February 26, 2011
In His Own Words
" He said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.'"
~ Mark 14: 24-25
These two verses struck me with a new light. Seeing how we are coming to the end of February I thought that this post would be very timely. Love has been in the air all month long and I have learned that it is also saturating every word God shares with us in his word.
Recently I had finished a Bible study on the gospel of Mark. And although I had read that particular gospel many times before I still found new insight and understanding. Particularly when it came to gaining a better understanding of who Jesus is and what his life on Earth accomplished.
In Mark 14:24 Jesus was sharing his final meal with his twelve closest friends and disciples. By this point in his life's story we know that Jesus and the twelve were nearly inseparable. They traveled everywhere together and Jesus spent as much time as possible teaching them, encouraging them, and preparing them for a time when he could no longer be with them.
This final meal was bittersweet and the disciples could not understand everything he was saying to them, let alone the significance of his words. Verse 24 shares how Jesus was telling them what the purpose of his life on Earth meant. He was telling them his mission and the awesome accomplishment it would fulfill.
What accomplishment? Verse 24 says, " ...'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.'" In order to understand the accomplishment we must first understand what is the "covenant" Jesus was talking about. Lest this post get too long I will surmise in a nutshell.
The Old Testament, all the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi, speaks of how those who wished to know God and remain in his favor had to follow a set of rules. 10 rules that were named the Ten Commandments. If anyone broke any one or combination of those rules they were condemned to God's wrath. For God is perfect and holy and cannot accept any form of sin. But no human being is perfect or ever was. So everyone, no matter how religious, fell short. To counter this sad reality God commanded that people perform animal sacrifices, give offerings, create vows, and follow many detailed rules about how they should live. But even with all these things done it was still impossible to have direct access to God. Only Aaron and his sons could enter the Holy Tabernacle. And there were lots of rules for them too.
God loves humanity and saw that these rules were difficult to uphold and frustrating for people. So He created a new plan. A better one. The Old Testament shares key events in the history of humanity's relationship to God under the " old covenant." The New Testament, all the books from Matthew to Revelations, speaks of the " new covenant." This is the covenant Jesus was speaking about. It was only possible through Him. And it could only be implemented at the moment of his death. Why? Because sin requires a sacrifice of sinless blood to successfully be atoned. Animals were sinless in God's eyes but could never cover the sins of the entire world. Jesus, in contrast, never sinned by choice. And because He is the son of God He was uniquely capable of saving everyone who lived or would ever live. But only if they accepted his death on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for them.
Mark 14: 24 was Jesus telling his disciples that he was about to free them and all humanity from the rules and regulations they had to live with their entire lives. He was about to save everyone from the bondage of sin and spiritual death. Not only that but with his death they would have direct access to God himself. This was something that was never possible before! Jesus was giving them and us the ultimate gift of love.
And as powerful as this verse is the following is even more so for me. Mark 14: 25 says, " Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." I was curious why Jesus said this and what he meant by "the fruit of the vine." So I did some digging and found answers in the gospel of John. John 15:5 says, " I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:9 says, " As the father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love." And John 15: 11 is the verse that clarified to me what Jesus was saying in Mark 14:25. It is the most beautiful confession of love I have ever read. John 15:11 says, " I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."
What does this mean? What word is repeated in John 15:11? Joy. But not just any joy. The joy Jesus speaks of is the joy of being united to those He loves. John 15:9 speaks of this very clearly. In Mark 14:25 Jesus was looking forward to eternity, long after his suffering on the cross. He was seeing the end result... perfect joy found in perfect intimacy which can only happen in the perfect kingdom of God.
Jesus wasn't only speaking to his disciples seated beside him that day. He was also speaking to you and to me. Jesus is longing for the moment when we step into eternity and are reunited with Him! In that moment the joy we will experience will only be rivaled by Jesus himself.
Loved ones be encouraged. What Jesus said in Mark 14:25 is a promise. And it will be fulfilled.