THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-2-68 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled The Body and Blood of Jesus. We invite you with us in this great auditorium to turn to the First Gospel, Matthew chapter 26; Matthew chapter 26. We shall all out loud read together verses 17 through 30; Matthew chapter 26, reading verses 17 through verse 30. And if your neighbor does not have his Bible, you share your Bible with him. And we will all read together. And on the radio, in your home, wherever you are, take your Bible and open it and read it out loud with us; Matthew 26: 17 through 30, now together:
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.
This is the precious recording of the institution of the memorial supper. It begins with the last week, the Passion week, in the life of our Lord with these words, “Now the Feast of the day of Unleavened Bread, the first day, came the disciples to Jesus saying, ‘Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?’” [Matthew 26:17]. That would be the fourteenth day of Nisan [Leviticus 23:5], which was the first month of the year in the ancient Hebrew calendar. And on the fourteenth day of Nisan, which in that year fell on Thursday, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the paschal lamb was slain [Exodus 12:5-6]. And by high noon of that day all the leaven in the house was fairly purged out [Exodus 12:15, 19], and the people by families were preparing to sacrifice the lamb of the Passover [Exodus 12:3-4].
So the disciples came to the Lord on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Matthew 26:17], a feast that lasted seven days, in which the paschal meal was eaten [Exodus 12:17; Numbers 28:17], and saying to the Lord that the day and the hour had come, what should they do in preparation for their observance of that Holy Supper. And Jesus said unto them, “My time is at hand” [Matthew 26:18]. The day had come for Him, whom Paul describes as our Passover, to be sacrificed for us [1 Corinthians 5:7].
This is a voluntary commitment of our Lord. “My time is at hand” [Matthew 26:18]. That is, He turned His face toward Jerusalem and to the cross as a part of God’s sovereign purpose in His life; for He came into the world to die for our sins. He said, “I lay down My life of Myself, that I may pick it up again. No man wrests it from Me” [John 10:17-18]. In fact, when they came to arrest Him, the Lord said, “If I were to call, 72,000 angels would be at My hand to protect Me” [Matthew 26:53]. And when we remember just one angel, just one, in one night, passing over Sannecherib’s Assyrian army, slew 185,000 soldiers [2 Kings 19:35]; just imagine 72,000 angels [Isaiah 37:36]. “If I were to ask they would be at My right hand to defend Me [Matthew 26:53], but My time is at hand” [Matthew 26:18].
It was a voluntary offering of Christ for our sins. When Pontius Pilate interrogated Him, the Lord said, “Thou wouldst have no power over Me at all were it not given thee from above” [John 19:11]. This is the story of the slaying and the sacrifice of the Lamb who was offered before the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8]. “My time is at hand” [Matthew 26:18].
With an earnest desire, Luke says, the Lord avowed He wanted to be with His disciples this last evening before His Passion. “With desire, I have desire,” Luke writes it, “to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” [Luke 22:15]. For the Lord had carefully arranged that nothing should stand in between Him and those disciples in this last night together before He died. Every arrangement had been carefully made. For there was a price on His head [Luke 22:2-6], and Judas had already sold Him for thirty pieces of silver; had already bargained, the contract had been made [Matthew 26:14-16].
And the Lord dare not show Himself publicly for fear of the violence of the people. So what was done was done secretly, furtively, quietly, in the dark behind closed doors. And in the preparation of the Passover, according to Luke, the Lord sent two of His disciples into the city and said, “You go your way into the city and there at such and such time and at such and such exact place you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him [Luke 22:8-10]. And where he goes, you go, and when he turns into a house, you say, ‘The Master said, Where is the guest chamber, that I may eat the Passover with My disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared” [Luke 22:11-12].
Now that was a sign. No man would carry a pitcher of water, not in that day. That was a menial task that only a woman did. A woman carried a pitcher of water, but not a man, not any man, ever! This was a sign predetermined and prepared by our Lord. “Go into the city and at such and such time, and in such and such exact place, you will see a man there with a pitcher of water on his shoulders, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him” [Luke 22:10]. And the disciples followed that man, and they were shown to an upper room, and there everything was prepared for the last paschal meal the Lord would share with His disciples in the days of His flesh [Luke 22:11-13].
In the Hexateuch, there are three tremendous Passover observances. One was in Egypt when the angel of death passed over, and all that were under the blood were saved [Exodus 12:11, 23]. In the interminable wilderness wanderings, the second Passover was observed, in the heart of that trackless desert [Numbers 9:4-5]. And the third time in the Hexateuch, it was observed by Joshua and the people under the frowning walls of those towering cities, and those great giants that the people faced as they sought to conquer Canaan’s land for God [Joshua 5:10].
This is the last Passover the Lord would eat with His disciples [Luke 22:15-20]. It’s the passing away of the old. It is the first supper of the new, the fulfilling of the old covenant and the old life and the bringing in of the new promise, and the new day, and the new life in Jesus Christ. “For now Christ our Passover is to be sacrificed for us” [1 Corinthians 5:7].
So as they were eating Jesus took bread and blessed it. And as He sat down with the disciples to break bread and to eat that Last Supper, He made a sorrowful announcement. “Verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray Me” [Matthew 26:21; John 13:21]. The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread [1 Corinthians 11:23], and the disciples, at an announcement like that were astonished and ashamed!
“Lord, one of us? One of us?” [Matthew 26:22]. Remember the secret place and the secret meeting and the quiet time. “Lord, one of us?” And isn’t it strange, each one felt that it could be I more than it could be one other of those eleven. “Lord, is it I, is it I, could it be I?” [Matthew 26:22].
“The same night in which He was betrayed He took bread: And when He had given thanks” [1 Corinthians 11:23-24]—always our Lord lived with an upward look; the downward look may be dark and dreary, but the upward look is always bright and victorious. “And He gave thanks, and He brake it, and said, “This is my body.” After the same manner He took the cup, “This is My blood” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25].
Shall I then expect in breaking bread to eat the actual body of My Lord? Shall I then think that in drinking the cup I am drinking the actual blood of My Lord? There are, of course, millions and millions and millions of a certain communion and faith that believe in that transubstantiation, the miracle of transforming bread into the flesh of Christ and the fruit of the vine into the blood of Christ—actually eating the flesh of the Lord and actually drinking His blood.
What am I to think of that? As I read the Bible, as I look at it, “This is My body, this is My blood” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25]. What am I to think of that? Several things. One: I know it is not the actual body and blood of Jesus because when He said these words He was standing there before them. He was living still in the days of His flesh, and His blood was coursing through His veins and His heart. They were not actually eating Christ. He was there standing before them when they broke that bread and ate it, and when they shared that cup and drank it. I know it is not the actual body and blood of Jesus.
I know it for another reason. The Lord said, “This do in remembrance of Me, this is My body given for you: eat in remembrance of Me. This is My blood of the new covenant shed for the remission of sins: drink in remembrance of Me. As oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup you do show forth,” you dramatize “the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:24-26]. I know, therefore, that I am not eating the actual body of the Lord, nor am I drinking the actual blood of the Lord. I am memorializing, bringing to remembrance, the sacrifice of Christ for my sins. And as I share in this Holy Supper, the bread reminds me of His flesh, and the red fruit of the vine reminds me of His blood. So this bread broken, represents His body, and this cup, so red, represents His blood. It is a ring from His finger. It is a bracelet from His arm. It is a letter from His heart. It is a picture that I am to treasure and remember the Lord.
In our church was a fine, devoted, gifted businessman, one of the finest in this city; a man who has been translated to glory. One day in his beautiful mansion home here in Dallas, I was in his library and on the library wall was a picture, a large, very large, oval picture of an old fashioned girl. She looked to be eighteen, nineteen years of age and dressed with a high ruffled collar and an old fashioned dress and a hairdo as they wore their hair so long ago; a sweet beautiful old fashioned girl.
Well, as I visited with him in the library, he pointed to that picture, very prominently displayed. And I asked, “Who is it?” And he said, “That’s my mother, that’s my mother.” And unable to hold back the tears, he said, “I never knew her. I never knew her. She died when I was a very small child. I never knew her.” Then he said, “Pastor, one day heaven will be sweet to me because I shall see her, to know her for the first time. That’s my mother.”
Would it not have been easy to say, “Why, man, what foolishness! I cannot understand such mentality. That is your mother? Why, that is a frame of wood and a covering of glass and a cardboard with ink on it. And yet you say that is my mother.” Why, I would be ashamed of myself had I suggested such a thing to him. I knew exactly what he meant when he said, “That is my mother.” He meant that picture represents my mother and brings back to my heart the memory of that mother whom someday I shall see in glory.
This is exactly what the Lord means by that word “is.” “This is My body, this is My blood” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25]. That is, it represents, it pictures, and it brings back to our hearts the sweet memory of what Jesus did for us.
Now in this memorial supper we have our Lord’s emphatic, plainly delineated outline of what it is in His ministry that He especially and particularly would like for us to remember. What of all, in the life of our Lord, should we especially remember, bring to mind, review, keep ever humbly, gratefully before us? What shall it be?
There are so many tremendously wonderful things about Christ. Oh! That’s why you preach about it, and sing about it, and talk about it, and thank God for it forever. Think of the sermons that have been preached, and we haven’t exhausted the richness of God’s love in Jesus yet. Think of the hundreds of thousands of sermons that have been delivered! Think of the songs without number that have been sung, and we haven’t sung them all yet.
So much of Jesus; what in His life and ministry would the Lord like for us especially to call to mind and to hold and treasure in our hearts? It could be His beautiful life. To think of the perfect life of our Lord is a holy meditation. We could think of the glorious power and miracles that He wrought. Just to touch the hem of His garment was to be saved, to be healed [Matthew 9:20-22]. We could think of His words of wisdom. “No man ever spake like that Man” [John 7:46].
But none of these, none of them, does the Lord ask that we especially remember. Now the Lamb must be without blemish [Exodus 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19], and the perfect life of Jesus is sweet to remember. And the blessedness of the miraculous ministry of our Lord is an encouragement to anyone who’s sick or in trouble or in trial. And the words our Lord has said will be with us when heaven and earth pass away [Mark 13:31].
But not by His beautiful life, and not by His miraculous works of power, and not even by His glorious words: it is by His stripes that we are healed [Isaiah 53:5]; it is by the pouring out of His life unto death that we find remission of sins [Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22]. And that’s why, of all of the incomparable, infinitude of the richness of the work and life and ministry of Jesus, we are first, above all, to remember His sacrifice for our sins [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26].
That’s why the Lord taught us the nomenclature of heaven. He did it in the ceremonial law and in the worship in the tabernacle in order that we might understand—when Jesus the Lamb of God should come and die for our sins—we would understand and we would know God’s language and God’s nomenclature.
When I use the word “sacrifice,” I know exactly what that means. I’ve been taught it in the Old Testament ritual. And when I read that word “altar,” I know exactly what that means. I’ve been taught it in the Old Testament ritual. And when I read that word “atonement” [Romans 5:11], the sacrifice for our sins, the propitiation [1 John 2:2], I know exactly what that means; I’ve been taught it by God’s nomenclature from heaven.
And the scene could never be forgotten. When a man had sinned, God’s Book says that we all have sinned [Romans 3:23], when a man had sinned he brought to God’s tabernacle an offering, a sacrifice, tied it to one of the horns on the altar and knelt down before it and put his hands on the head of the sacrificial victim; and there confessed his sins over the head of that sacrificial victim. And that identified him with the sacrifice. And he confessed all his sins over the head of that innocent victim [Leviticus 4:27-35]. And after the confession, the priest slew it.
What did that mean? That was God’s way of teaching me what atonement is, what the word sacrifice is, what the word offering is. And when Jesus came and took our sins in His own body and bore them on the tree [1 Peter 2:24], and our Passover was sacrificed for us [1 Corinthians 5:7], the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29], I know exactly what it means: I’ve been taught it in God’s Book.
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
All praise to the Father, all praise to the Son,
All praise to the Spirit, the great Three in One!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Glory,I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
[from “Saved By the Blood,” S J Henderson, 1902]
“This is My blood of the new covenant shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28]. “For I say that as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
In that long ago day, and for the first Christian centuries, the disciples of the Lord, persecuted, hated, hounded, hunted, met in secret places, in the night, in caves. Our preacher this morning described a meeting place of God’s saints in Antioch, in a cave. And they had words by which they spake to one another when they would meet a stranger in a city. One of them is in 1 Corinthians 16:22: “Maranatha. Maranatha.” Isn’t that a strange thing how Paul puts that in that conclusion? “Maranatha.” “Maranatha.”
Where did that word come from? It was an Aramaic word, and it was first used by these disciples in Judea, and from Judea all over the world, Maranatha, “the Lord comes.” The Lord comes. “As oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26]. Maranatha, “the Lord comes.” And in conversation a man with a stranger would just incidentally say that word. If the stranger had no idea what it meant, he was not a Christian. But I can see the quickening spirit response; if a stranger spoke to another and he used that word, Maranatha, and there was a quickening response, he was a Christian. He was a Christian! “The Lord comes,” Maranatha, “the Lord comes.”
And then in a goodbye, what we would say in our time, “Goodbye,” or “Farewell,” or “God bless you,” that’s the way we would bid a friend goodbye. What did they say? This word here, achri hou elthe, “Till He come.” “Till He come.” Achri hou elthe, “Till He come.” “Till He come.” And thus the Christians found their greeting in the hope of the Lord, “Maranatha, maranatha,” the Lord cometh [1 Corinthians 16:22].
And they found their final hope in their goodbye and farewell in the coming of the Lord, achri hou elthe, “Till He come.” Till He come! God be good to you till I see you in Jesus; the Lord watch over and between us until we see Him and one another face to face” [1 Corinthians 11:26; 16:22].
Dear people there is no sweetness and no preciousness in God’s world like the preciousness of God’s saints who in Jesus love one another and their Lord. To be a Christian is the sweetest way to live in the world. To have a Christian home is the finest way to build a home in the world. To die as a Christian is the finest way to die in the world, and to lift up our faces in the hope of a Christian is the finest commitment a man can make in the world. And that’s our appeal to your heart tonight.
In a moment we shall sing our song, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, one somebody you, give himself to Jesus; come and stand by me. Make the decision now where you are, where you’re seated. And when we stand to sing in a moment, stand up coming. “Here I am, pastor. This is my wife. These are our children. All of us are coming.” Or just a couple you, “Pastor, we’re coming, my wife and I.” Or one somebody you, “Pastor, tonight I have decided for Christ, and here I am. Here I come.” Do it. Do it. And in a moment when we stand, on the first note of the first stanza, come. In the balcony round, on this lower floor, when you stand up, stand up coming. And that first step God will bless you and strengthen you in the way. Do it now. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.