The Body and Blood of Jesus
May 17th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-17-59 7:30 p.m.
We turn in our Bible to the First Gospel, Matthew, chapter 26; Matthew chapter 26, verses 17 through 30, the First Gospel, Matthew, chapter 26, verse 17 through verse 30. And if your Bible, if your Bible didn’t bring his neighbor,if your neighbor didn’t bring his Bible, share it with him, share your Bible with one who doesn’t. And now let’s all read it together, Matthew 26:17-30:
Now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?
And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples.
And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve.
And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I?
And He answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.
The Son of Man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.
The Feast of the Passover was the feast at the first part of the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Exodus 12:1-28]. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted a week; the Feast of the Passover was the meal that began that holy and sacred seven days. It began on the fourteenth day of Nisan, at high noon; all of the people in their homes scourged their houses of leaven. Not only was that true in the days of Jesus, it is true today. An orthodox Jewish family will scour the house to rid it of any sign of the presence of leaven. Then, in the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nisan, the lamb that had been shut up four days with the family, long enough to be identified as a member of the household, the lamb is slain. And that evening the Passover meal is shared by the family. And if one family is not large enough for the lamb, then they’re to call in their friends next door. And they’re to eat the Passover in groups in the home, in the night time [Exodus 12:3-8]. The Passover was in this day, most people think, on Thursday evening, or the Jewish Friday.
That noon, the leaven purged out; that afternoon the Lord sent two of His disciples; and the sign of the place to which they were to be led for the sacred paschal meal was a man carrying a pitcher of water [Mark 14:13]. You see women carried the water in the Orient; and for a man to be carrying a pitcher of water was a sign. Every step of Jesus was carefully watched. Judas had already bargained for thirty pieces of silver to betray Him [Matthew 26:14-16]. So the life of our Master at this time is furtively, clandestinely, secretly lived. So the place where they were to have the Passover, prearranged, the way to be led to it was a sign: a man carrying a pitcher of water. The disciples were to follow him; and when the man carrying the pitcher of water, the sign, went into a certain house, why, the disciples were to go to that man and say, "The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples" [Matthew 26:18].
All of this was foreordained, predestined before God made this world. "My time is at hand" [Matthew 26:18]. The exigencies of the hour did not determine what was done; it was done in the elective purpose and providence of God from the beginning of the creation. And our Lord came into this world for this set purpose; as He turned His face to Jerusalem, there to die for the sins of the people [Luke 9:51] – "My time is at hand" [Matthew 26:18]. So, on Thursday evening, or as they would count it, on the Jewish Friday, that night the disciples were gathered there with the Lord Jesus, and they ate the Passover supper together [Matthew 26:20-21].
While they were eating, Jesus made the sorrowful announcement that one of them should betray Him, deliver Him into the hands of sinners. "Being sorrowful, each one said, Lord, it could not be I?" [Matthew 26:21-22]. And Jesus said, "The one that dips his hand with me in the dish, even that one, here tonight, the same shall betray Me" [Matthew 26:23]. Then Judas, who already had the thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16], looked at the Lord contemptuously, sarcastically, and said, "Master, You talking about me?" And Jesus said, "I am"; or in the Greek, the strongest affirmative, "Thou hast said" [Matthew 26:24-25]. And then Judas went out [John 13:30]. If you follow a parallel column of these evangelists of the synoptic Gospels and John, a harmony of the Gospels, it was here that Simon Peter whispered to John, who was as, an Oriental table would be set, Jesus here and John leaning on his elbow at the table in the way that they ate, John’s head was next to the bosom of the Master, as the Bible says; and Simon Peter whispered to John and said, "Of whom does He speak?" And Jesus said, "He it is, to whom I give this bread dipped in the dish." And Jesus took a piece of the bread, and sopped it in the dish, and gave it to Judas. And when Judas received the offering, he went out; and it was night [John 13:21-30], and made arrangements with the leaders of the Sanhedrin and the temple guard to deliver the Lord into the hands of the officers in Gethsemane, in the place of prayer to which Jesus so frequently resorted.
Now, when Judas had gone, as they were eating,
Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, All of you drink of it; For this is My blood of the new covenant, the new contract, the new promise, the new avowal; this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for the remission of sins.
All of these words are holy and sacred, and they bring to our hearts the hush of that night and that sorrowful and tragic occasion.
This is a memorial. Out of all of the things in the life of our Lord – "So filled," John says, "if I were to write and describe them, all the world itself would not hold the books that should be written" [John 21:25] – out of all of the things in the life of our Lord, what is it that our Lord would have us always, and foremost, to remember? His wonderful words? Oh, how tender and sweet they were; how full of wisdom and knowledge. But not His words. His gracious deeds, the miracles that no other man ever did; all of those wonderful things that filled His life – is it His deeds? Out of all that our Lord was and did and said, what one thing is it He would have us ever to remember? Is it the beauty, the holiness, of His perfect life, without spot and without blemish? [1 Peter 1:19]. It’s wonderful to one’s heart just to think upon a life as holy, as given to God, as the life of our blessed Lord Jesus. But it is not His life even. The one thing above all and foremost that our Lord would have us remember is the day of His cross; remember this.
"And He took bread and said, This is My body [Matthew 26:26]. And He took the cup and said, This is My blood" [Matthew 26:27-28]. And how many there are in this world who under the miraculous gift of priestly hands believe that this is transmuted into the actual body and the actual blood of our Lord. "This is My body, and this is My blood." But I need not expatiate before you on the meaning of that.
For example, I went one time with a man in this city, in his beautiful home, into his study; and there on the wall of his library was a picture of an old-fashioned girl, dressed in an old-fashioned way. The picture evidently had been enlarged from a tintype, round, oval, hanging there on the wall. And as I stood there by the side of this wonderfully fine businessman in our city, he said, "You see that picture there? That’s my mother. I never saw her," he said, "she died when I was born." And he turned to me and added, "And preacher, my hope for heaven is some of these days to see the face of my sainted mother." And as he spoke to me, the tears came into his eyes. "This is my mother." Well, I could have turned and said, "Listen fella, you know better than that. That is cardboard, and ink, and glass, and wood; that’s not your mother." I did not say that, for I knew what he meant. As we stood there in the study and looked at the picture of that old-fashioned girl, dressed in that old-fashioned dress, and with tears he says, "Preacher, that is my mother," I knew what he meant. "That is the picture of my mother. That represents to me my mother." It is the identical thing in this. "This is My body," and we brake bread [Matthew 26:26]; "This is My blood," and we drink of the fruit of the vine [Matthew 26:27-28]. I know what He meant. "This is a picture of the day of the cross, when I gave My life for you [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:5:14], and the earth drank up the blood of the Son of God" [John 19:30-34; Colossians 1:19-20]. It brings back to our memories the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God; His body and His blood [Romans 5:11; Hebrews 2:17]. They are symbols, they are pictures, they are representations, they are memorials of the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God [Matthew 26:26-28].
And that is always the heart of the gospel. We are not saved by the wonderful words of the Son of God, though "Never a man spake like that Man" [John 7:46]. We’re not saved by the gracious miracles, those tender, sweet, loving things Jesus did for the poor, and the blind, and the lame, and the halt, and the leper, yea, and for the very dead. But we’re saved by the gift of His life [John 3:14-17]. We’re saved by the atoning sacrifice [Romans 5:11; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2]. We’re saved in the cross of the Son of God [Philippians 2:8]. And it is the memorial of that day that the Lord would have us call to mind yet again, and still again, and once again. "For as oft as ye do it," every day, every week, once a month, "For as oft as ye do it, ye do it in remembrance of Me" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. So the supper is a beautiful memorial, bringing back to our hearts the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross.
"Now preacher, we’d like for you to explain to us how it is that the death of Christ saves us from our sins." Oh, I wish I could answer; but I cannot. I do not know; I cannot fathom, I cannot understand it. All I know is that God says, "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be the righteousness of God in Him" [2 Corinthians 5:21]. All I know is that God said, "If you will take the blood of the paschal lamb, and sprinkle it on the lintels and the doorposts, when the angel of death comes in the night, he will pass over that house" [Exodus 12:22-23]. That’s all that I know. When I’m under the blood, I’m saved, and I’m saved from the wrath of the awful judgment of God upon my sin. That’s all that I know. I’m saved in the blood of the Crucified One [Romans 5:8-10], and we eat and we drink in memory of that atoning sacrifice.
Now, it is also a prophecy and a promise. "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom" [Matthew 26:29]. It not only is a memorial looking back to the day of the cross, but it is also a promise, and a prophecy; it is a covenant of a glorious triumph yet to come at the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we shall see our Lord face to face [Revelation 19:6-9]. "I will drink of that fruit of the vine, new, in My Father’s kingdom" [Matthew 26:29]. So it looks forward to the glorious consummation of the age; even as Paul recorded it in his Corinthian letter: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. So it’s a prophecy. As we take our stand by the cross, the light from the sacrifice of the Son of God casts its rays through the millenniums of the future; and when we stand by the cross, we take our stand by Him who holds the future in His hands [Isaiah 46:10]. We’ll not fail. We can’t lose, for Christ shall some day yet be victorious and triumphant over all the earth, over death, over hell, over the grave, over Satan [1 Corinthians 15:55-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]; when He drinks it new with us in our Father’s kingdom [Matthew 26:29].
Now, I have one little word else, which also is an appeal. The memorial of the Lord’s Supper is set in the church. The ordinance does not belong to the chamber of commerce, does not belong to the legislative assembly, it does not belong to the Congress of the United States, it does not belong to the United Nations; the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is set in the church. And this is the way that the Lord hath taught us: first, we’re to be saved [Acts 8:37]; second, we’re to be baptized [Acts 8:37]; and third, we’re to be obedient to observe those things He has given us to keep, the Lord’s Supper [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. And those three great parts of the Great Commission of Christ [Matthew 28:19-20], are inspired in their order, as they are in their content. First, we’re to be saved; we’re to give our hearts to the Lord Jesus, looking in faith unto Him, receiving Him as Savior, that’s first. Second, we’re to be buried with our Lord in baptism; buried in the likeness of His death, raised in the likeness of His resurrection. And third, we’re to keep the things He has given us, of which one is this sacred and holy ordinance of the memorial of the breaking of bread. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth [Matthew 28:18]. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the people" [Matthew 28:19], that’s first; we’re to give our hearts to Jesus. We’re to be converted, we’re to turn in faith to Him, we’re to be a disciple of the Lord first [Matthew 28:19]. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"; that’s second [Matthew 28:19]. We’re to be baptized: buried with the Lord, raised with the Lord, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19]. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" [Matthew 28:20], that’s the third; one of which is the Lord’s Supper, observing the memorial of the breaking of bread [Matthew 28:18-20].
First: to be a disciple, to trust in Jesus [Acts 8:37]. Second: to be baptized, buried and raised with our Lord [Acts 8:37]. And third: to observe the memorial of the breaking of bread, and the drinking of the fruit of the vine [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. That is the gospel. That’s the ordinance in His church. And that’s the appeal we make to your heart tonight. Have you given your heart in faith to Jesus? If you never have, would you do it now? "Pastor, tonight, the best I know how, I will give my heart in faith and in trust to the Lord Jesus; and here I come." Have you been baptized? If you have never been baptized, would you come and give your hand to the pastor? "Pastor, tonight, I have given my heart to Jesus. I’ve never been baptized. As it says in the Book, I want to be buried with the Lord in the likeness of His death, and raised with the Lord in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-5; Matthew 28:19]. I want to be baptized; and here I come." Have you already been saved? Have you already been baptized? But your life is not linked with us in this precious and blessed congregation, would you come? "Pastor, tonight, I’m coming by letter." Or by statement. "Here’s my family, we’re all coming tonight." Or just one somebody you, while we make this appeal, while we prayerfully sing the song, would you make it tonight? In this balcony round, somebody you, down this stairwell and to the front, or this great throng on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the pastor, "Here I am, pastor, I give you my hand; I take Jesus as my Savior." Or, "Tonight, I’m coming to be received for baptism." Or, "Tonight, we’re putting our lives in the fellowship of the church." Would you make it now? On the first note of the first stanza, would you come? While we stand and while we sing.