Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 24 2013 - Luke 22:14-34 – The new covenant in my blood

Our reading this morning focuses on the Last Supper which Jesus ate with his disciples before his betrayal, trial and crucifixion. It was a Passover meal and Jesus had longed to eat it with his disciples. In that meal they would remember together how God had saved their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. He had come down to rescue them; come down in judgment upon the Egyptians. And in that terrible night, they had been saved by the blood of the lamb. The blood of the slaughtered lamb had been painted round their doors and God had passed over them. There was a death in every house in Egypt that night: in the Egyptian households the death of the firstborn; in the Israelite households the death of a lamb.

Jesus took the elements of that Passover meal and showed how they receive a new focus in what he was about to do for them. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one through whose shed blood we are kept safe from the wrath of God. He is God come down to set us free. He is the one who calls us to follow him into the inheritance which God has for his people.

And so, in the paradox of this Last Supper, Jesus gives his disciples a simple means of remembering all that he has done for us through eating bread and drinking wine together. The slaughtered lamb has gone, to be replaced by the simple, daily bread. No further sacrifice is necessary; the work is finished. But the bread is to be a continual reminder of his body given for us – given to torment and death. The wine is to be the reminder of his blood poured out for us, that we might be forgiven.

When Jesus took the cup of wine at the end of that Passover meal, Luke records that Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:20). These words are wonderfully rich. Jesus speaks of the new covenant. It is more than a repetition of Passover, Exodus and Sinai for it surpasses all that has gone before. All that had been promised in the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures was now about to be fulfilled. God was about to make a new covenant with his people: a covenant which would never be broken; a covenant marked by the pouring out of his Spirit into the hearts of his people to lead them into obedience to him. All of this is about to be accomplished through the death of the Lord Jesus; through the pouring out of his blood.

A covenant is a solemn and binding agreement. Jesus' death – his shed blood – is the means by which God binds himself to us and by which we are bound to him with an indissoluble bond; it is the blood of the covenant. We who once were far off have been brought near; reconciled to God. We who were once not a people have become the people of God – family.

Thank You, Jesus, thank You, Jesus
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
Thank You, Jesus, thank You, Jesus
Thank You, Lord, for loving me

You went to Calvary
And there You died for me
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
You went to Calvary
And there You died for me
Thank You, Lord, for loving me

You rose up from the grave
To me new life You gave
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
You rose up from the grave
To me new life You gave
Thank You, Lord, for loving me

Apr 24 2019 - 1 Samuel 9 – Saul meets Samuel

The Israelites wanted to be a powerful nation, just like the other nations round about them. So they told Samuel that they must have a king. But who is able to act as king over the people God has chosen to be his own and to be a light to the nations?

The hidden hand of God is at work through the details of the story in today's chapter. Saul's father, Kish just happens to have lost his donkeys which would have been left to fend for themselves on the sparse pasture of the hill country – as sheep today are let loose on the hills in Wales. Saul, along with one of his father's servants, is sent to search for them and bring them home. They searched the local countryside but could not find the donkeys. Only then does the servant have the bright idea of consulting Samuel, the priest and prophet of Israel who lived in that region.

Meanwhile, the Lord had revealed to Samuel that a man from the tribe of Benjamin was on his way to see him and that this was the man whom he is to anoint as Israel's king. Saul is just the kind of young man whom you might expect to make a good king, even though he is from the smallest tribe in Israel. He stands head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries (v.2), he has the physical characteristics that would make him the kind of king the people would welcome – a king like the nations. The Lord tells Samuel that this is the man who will deliver God's people from the oppression of the Philistines (v.16). He will be a second Samson, perhaps even a better Samson.

Samuel lives up to his reputation as a prophet or seer – one who can see things that are not visible to others. When Saul meets Samuel he is immediately told that he need worry no more about the donkeys, they have been returned safely to his father. Then Samuel utters the enigmatic words, "And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line? (v.20). Saul is puzzled; he does not think that there is anything special about him and his family.

But now Saul is led into the feast that has been prepared in conjunction with the sacrifice and worship planned to take place at the high place above the town. There Saul was given the chief place at the feast and the very best of the food; it must all have seemed very strange to him. After the feast they went down to Samuel's house in the town where they stayed the night. Only in the morning, as Saul is about to leave, does Samuel take him aside to tell him that he is going to be Israel's first king. It must have been very difficult for Saul to take in.

What kind of king does God want to be ruler over his people? It must be one who reflects the character of God himself. Saul looked the right part – head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries – but the events of the following chapters will prove his character.

What a contrast with our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the beautiful images of him in Victorian paintings and Sunday School posters, we are told that, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). It is character, not appearance, that God values and that equips someone for leadership among God's people. Jesus alone is fit to be king over the people of God for he "is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being." He is God incarnate.

Father God, we give you thanks and praise for our precious Saviour and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has conquered all our enemies, will save us from every threat and danger and will bring us safe at last into the place he is preparing for us in glory. We thank you that though we are unworthy of your goodness, you have set aside the best for us and welcome us to feast at your table. Help us to serve you in a spirit of humble faith and of joyful obedience and worship.

Peter Misselbrook