This Cup Is The New Testament
April 9, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: 1 Corinthians 11:25
Text: “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.”
Beloved in Christ for many years this truth has been lost to the church. If you ask a person today “what is the New Testament” they will usually answer, “the last 27 books of the Bible” or “that period of time from the birth of Christ forward.” And they are right, of course. But those are secondary answers, that have wiped the primary answer out of our collective memories.
The cup which Jesus gave the disciples to drink from that night IS the New Testament. Said another way the New Testament consists of the celebration of the Sacrament: the Cup and the Bread, which upon consecration are now the Body and Blood of Jesus, which are given to us Christians to eat and to drink so that we might gain by them remission of sins, life and salvation. Peace with God. Justification before God. Heaven. A reversal of the death sentence due to all sinners who will not come to Christ for pardon!
Is your church a New Testament church? If it is then that fact is only known by your celebration of this Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood both constitute and define us as the church. It is who we are, and what we do. And anything else we do proceeds from, or leads back to this Sacrament.
And that is another misunderstood word whose meaning we can again claim this Maundy Thursday. Church. “Church” in St. Paul’s writings never means the membership list, or the body politic, but the assembly of the baptized gathered for Eucharistic worship.
And so if you are the church of Jesus Christ it can only be known by your celebration of this Sacrament every Lord’s Day.
Just like a baseball team is only a team if they show up for the game and play it. To be a notional baseball team that puts on uniforms and practices and drills means nothing. It is in the playing of the game that a baseball team is a baseball team.
“This cup IS the New Testament in my blood,” says Jesus.
Is means is.
Indeed the Eucharist aka Lord’s Supper aka Holy Communion constitutes Christian worship. It is the only form of worship that Jesus left his church, and so let us all “Do this.”
On that night in which he was handed over for our transgressions he showed the true end and fulfillment of all Jewish worship. It was this Sacrament. From this moment on all Jewish worship is subsumed in Holy Communion. Every offering ever made in the Old Testament, every animal ever slaughtered for sins, every grain and wine and oil offering ever given to the LORD to atone for sins had THIS end in mind.
This cup IS the New Testament.
All the things we do in the Eucharistic assembly: the readings, prayers, vestments we wear, the movements we make, the creeds and hymns etc. are all done in anticipation of the high point of Christian worship: eating and drinking this life-giving, death-defying meal.
A person might say: I am a Christian. My response is: I will believe you when I see you kneeling at the Lord’s altar and eating his flesh and drinking his blood in Holy Communion.
For being a Christian is not merely an internal reality that exists between one’s ears, or in one’s heart or pious imagination, or because they claim to subscribe to a certain form of doctrine. That does not make one a Christian. But to be a Christian means first to worship Christ, all other things then follow.
Consider the Maji who came from the east to find the Christ child. They didn’t come because they had read a theology book, but because the Holy Spirit provided a Star them, because he drew them and taught them to follow it to the cradle of Jesus.
Nor did they come with notebook and pen ready to take notes. But with grateful hearts, bendable knees, and gifts by which to worship him.
Royal, costly and beautiful treasures of earth for a beautiful and royal Savior who came to earth to make the costliest sacrifice of all. He did not offer gold, or silver for our redemption. But he offered himself for the sins of the world, now stacked on his infinitely mighty shoulders. His suffering, and death and resurrection have taken them all away and have brought to heaven.
Consider the man born blind in John Chapter Nine. When he learned the Jesus was the Son of Man what did he do? He immediately fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
And remember Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus who did the same. She earlier had come to Jesus hoping and praying for absolution of her many sins. She received it and then fell at his feet, washed them with her tears, dried them with her hair, and poured myrrh over them. That is love. That is worship. That is how one has communion with Jesus.
Things are a bit different now that Jesus and the New Testament have been fully revealed. This Cup stands at the center of it all. It is the Holy Grail!
Why does the church preach and teach? So that people might believe and receive baptism. Why does she baptize? So that people might enter into the Holiest Communion of all, with the Holy One himself. Jesus. And through him with the Father and the Spirit as well.
Life is good O Christian. Very, very good!
This Sacrament gives us factual fellowship with Christ, with every Christian on earth, and with every Christian who came before. And with the angels and archangels and the vast and innumerable company of heaven as well.
All that is here, at the Christian altar, on this holy ground. And nothing but the deepest faith, and highest reverence will do when one approaches God’s wondrous altar of love.
But This Cup is not an end in itself either. It is as close as you can get to Christ in this life. Truly Christ own flesh and blood is in you by this Sacrament, even as you are “in him” by baptism.
But in heaven Holy Communion will be of a very different nature.
It will be even closer intimacy than this, and even more filled with life, joy, and gladness …
No bread or wine will be needed for we will feast on the exalted Christ himself. We will touch him with renewed hands, and hear his glorious voice with pure ears that have been cleansed of all the deadly viruses that entered them in this world. Nor will there be a 7 day interval between our communion with him.
It will be constant.
It will be everything.
It will be the only thing.
But for now, in anticipation of that, let us lay aside all earthly cares, all hopes and dreams of personal gain and power and glory, all earthly treasures, and prostrate ourselves at this holy altar to commune with Jesus.
To celebrate the New Testament in his blood.
THIS CUP … is the New Testament in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me. Amen.