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FROM SYMBOL TO SUBSTANCE (1): MEDIATED BY CHRIST

(Luke 22:14-20)
June 25, 2017

Read Luke 22:14-20 Heres a paradox. Human history is divided by one


life -- Jesus Christ, BC/AD. Amazing. Some are trying to change that. In
museums and books you increasingly see BCE (before the common era) and
CE (common era). But the division point is still Jesus. BCE = BC. CE=AD.

Why Jesus, not someone else? All the other founders of major religions died
old and successful. Buddha lived to 80 years and is credited with achieving
ultimate enlightenment. Mohammad lived into his 60s and united all of
Arabia into one kingdom, under one faith. Confucius died at 72, revered by
his contemporaries, having developed an ethical system that swept China. By
contrast Jesus, at age 33, died a humiliating, criminals death, hanging naked
on a Roman cross rejected by His own people and abandoned by virtually
everyone in his life. He left no written legacy, no organized religion and was
unknown outside of Palestine, which is about the size of Rhode Island.

When His few followers did regroup, they adopted as their symbol the cross.
Lunacy, as shown by a 1st century cartoon found in the ruins of Rome. Written
in stone, hidden behind bars so people cant rub it away, it depicts a Roman
cross. Hanging on the cross is the body of a man with the head of a donkey. A
man bows before the cross. The inscription reads, Eleximenus worships his
God. How foolish to worship a crucified man. Its a joke; its a cartoon! --
It is the power of God that eventually overtook the Roman empire and
divided human history into BC and AD. How could that possibly be?!

Only one possible answer. His death had a supernatural purpose. It was not
the tragic result of political forces too strong for Him. It was not a futile
gesture urging us to try harder. Nor was it simply a lesson in loving one's
enemies and the politics of non-violence. It had a far deeper meaning.

The disciples will not get it now but they will get it later. And after them
thousands more, and then millions after that. His life, death and resurrection
address mankinds greatest enemies -- sin, guilt and death. Victory over those
can be found nowhere nowhere except in Him. Thats why He is rightfully
the center point of history. Thats what this passage teaches as the symbolism
of Passover is replaced by the substance of the Lords Supper.

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At first glance this passage looks like Lukes account of the initiation of the
Lords Supper as found in Matt and Mark. But there is a profound difference
here starting with the fact that Luke has Jesus taking the cup first. In fact,
Luke has two cups. But that is the whole point. Luke is showing us this is not
only the first Communion, it is also the last Passover at least the very last
legitimate Passover. So what were seeing is the dividing point of biblical and
theological history which also means the dividing point of human history.

Let me explain. The Egyptian captivity of Israel and its subsequent release is
the major object lesson of the OT -- pointing us forward to the meaning of
Jesus life, death and resurrection. After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God
sent Moses to deliver Israel around 1425 BC. Thru a series of plagues, the last
of which resulted in the death of every firstborn person and animal in Egypt
who didnt sacrifice a lamb and apply the blood to their doorpost, God moved
Pharaoh to release the people. God then formed a nation around the Law He
gave to Moses and eventually brought the people into the Promised Land.

God had commanded an annual commemoration of this deliverance the


Passover Feast. The Passover typically consisted of a long meal with several
stages of celebration and conversation. It opened with a prayer of
thanksgiving for Gods blessings. Next came the first of 4 cups of diluted red
wine the cup of blessing. Then a ceremonial washing of hands to symbolize
cleansing from sin. They then ate bread and bitter herbs, commemorating the
bitterness of Israels slavery in Egypt. Then they sang Psa 113-114 the first
two of 6 Hallel (song of praise) Psalms followed by the 2nd cup of wine. The
father, or head of the table, then explained the meaning of Passover using
Deut 16 and 26 to explain how the unleavened bread symbolized affliction in
Egypt. They ate the main meal, of the lamb, unleavened bread (signifying the
speed of their departure) and the 3rd cup of wine. The ceremony closed with
the singing the Psalm 115-118 and drinking the 4th cup of wine.

Thats the ceremony Israelites had enacted millions of time over the past 1400
years. And thats how this Passover starts. They had the prayer of
thanksgiving and then the first cup probably the one mentioned in Lu 22:17.
BUT -- then things take a shocking turn! When it comes time to explain the
meal, Jesus takes bread as had been done for centuries, but when He opens His
mouth He says astonishing things that have never been said at a Passover
before. Instead of this is the bread of their affliction, that our ancestors ate
in the wilderness, Jesus says, This is my body this is the bread of my
affliction. He changes the focus of the whole thing. Turns it on its ear.

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Passover becomes the Lords supper. Promise is becoming reality! Symbols
are about to be replaced by substance. What Passover anticipated is becoming
actual. And at the center of it all is Jesus and the cross. The two are
inseparable. At the cross, sacrificial lambs are replaced by The Lamb and
deliverance promised becomes deliverance delivered! Its a stunning moment.

This incredible passage shows 7 elements of deliverance. Each is symbolized


in Passover and realized in Jesus. This affirms our faith as believers and locks
in the full meaning of Communion. Seven elements of deliverance.

I. The Need for Deliverance

Israelites captive in Egypt knew they needed deliverance. Exod 1 tells us a


Pharaoh arose who didnt know Joseph. He feared the fast-multiplying
Israelites. Exod 1:13: So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as
slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and
in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them
work as slaves. The Israelites went from esteemed visitors to bitter slaves
with no way out no escape. Their situation was hopeless -- intended to
symbolize the spiritual reality of the human condition. Just as every new
Hebrew baby was born into slavery, so every new human life is born into
slavery to sin. David said in Psa 51:5, Behold, I was brought forth in
iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. The human condition!

But while the Israelites knew their predicament, most of us do not. We dont
feel enslaved to sin. Sure we spin the truth now and then. We lose our temper
occasionally, all in a good cause. Act a little selfishly sometimes who else is
going to look out for #1? But slaves to sin? No way. Most of our choices are
commendable. When theyre not, its excusable. Were like the smoker who
says, I could quit anytime I want. Why, I quit twice last month alone.

God begs to differ. Our self-deception runs deep. Jer 17:9: The heart is
deceitful above all things and desperately sick. Who can understand it? Not
us thats for sure. We are rationalization machines. Why? II Cor 4:4: The
god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from
seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Unbelievers cant see the gospel. And what is the first element of the gospel?
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).

Thats why God calls us lost. Lu 19:10, For the Son of Man came to seek
and to save the lost. Who are the lost? All of us. If were not, the Lord has
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wasted a lot of time and energy. Either He is deceived or we are deceived.
Which side of that bet do you want? Long ago Jer 13:23, Can the Ethiopian
change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are
accustomed to do evil. God says well be able to do something worthy of
God about the same time the leopard sheds his spots. Bottom line: were not
capable of changing our basic nature. We are sinners by birth and by choice.
Jn 8:34, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to
sin. Did you sin this morning? Then you are a slave to sin. Did you sin
yesterday? Then you are a slave to sin. The thought that you can choose to
sin or not sin is nullified by every resolution youve broken. We cant resolve
to do better at dawn and make it to nightfall. Were as enslaved spiritually as
the Israelites were physically. Psa 130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark
iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? The point is, He does, and no one can.

Thats the verdict of God who created us None is righteous, no, not one
(Rom 3:10). Journalist Hunter Thompson of Rolling Stone mag took his own
life at age 67. His first wife, Sandy Conklin-Thompson wrote: He was, on
the one hand, extremely loving and tender, brilliant and exciting, generous
and kind. On the other end of the spectrum he was extremely cruel. In one
of his tender moments, I asked him if he knew when he was about to
become the Monster. He said, Sandy, its like this. I sense it first, and
before I have completely turned around he is there. He is me. He is all of
us, and the first step toward deliverance is to realize were in bondage. Albert
Einstein, no believer, still realized this: It is easier to denature plutonium
than to denature the evil spirit of man. He was right. Israels physical
bondage symbolizes the spiritual bondage that grips every man, woman, boy
and girl. Were enslaved, and without help, there is no hope.

II. The Mediator of Deliverance

Thats bad news. Israel was captive and so are we. But the good news for
Israel is one day, out of the blue, someone came. Someone to stand between
the people and Pharaoh. More importantly, someone to stand between the
people and God. Someone to the rescue. Moses, a mediator! Exod 4:29 Then
Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of
Israel. 30 Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and
did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed; and when
they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen
their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. By faith they believed
theyd be delivered thru Moses, their mediator.

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Moses delivered them from physical bondage. Then God gave the Law thru
Moses. But even as Moses came from Mt. Sinai with the Law written in stone,
he found the people in a drunken orgy of pagan worship of a golden calf. They
had broken every commandment before Moses even got there. God expressed
His fury in Exod 32:9b-10: I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-
necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot
against them and I may consume them. God would have destroyed them then
and there except what? Moses, the mediator, interceded and God relented. He
provided a sacrificial system by which law-breaking people could be saved by
faith if theyd bring a sacrifice. But it was only a symbol. Salvation on credit.
Heb 10:4, it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Those millions of sacrificial lambs could only point to something greater.

And now, Jesus is telling His disciples, that something greater has arrived.
That something greater is Jesus Himself. This is my body, which is given for
you (v. 19). This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my
blood (v. 20). He is, as John testified the lamb of God that takes away the
sin of the world (Jn 1:29). Reality is about to replace symbol. Heb 10:14:
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being
sanctified [delivered]. The covenant given through Moses could not
ultimately save. It could only point forward to something greater. Thats why
both Ezekiel and Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant that could save.

Jer 31:31: Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will
make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not
like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them
by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they
broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares
the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.
And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Ezek 36:25-27 tells us
this covenant provides a heart of flesh in place of stone. And the forgiveness
and cleansing that the old covenant could only symbolize, the new covenant
will actualize! So when Jesus says, This cup that is poured out for you is the
new covenant in my blood (v. 20), He means The time has come. The
new covenant is here. Not salvation on credit; salvation for real! And as
Moses mediated the covenant of promise, Jesus mediated the greater covenant
of fulfillment.

D. A. Carson is from Canada and while a student he brought a Muslim friend


home for Christmas that Carson had reading John. Carson took him to visit
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Parliament in Ottawa, beautiful structures and with a lot of statues. In the final
foyer, the guide pointed out a statue of Moses, representing law. Guyara
immediately asked in a pleasant voice, Where is Jesus Christ? The guide
said, I dont understand. Why should Jesus be here? Guyara replied, I
read in your Holy Book that the law was given by Moses, but grace and
truth came through Jesus Christ? Where is Jesus Christ? Thats the
ultimate question for all of us, isnt it? Moses mediated a covenant of promise
that symbolized deliverance, but only Jesus could deliver it. I Tim 2:5, For
there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus. One mediator! Just one. So where is Jesus Christ in your life?

Conc We took our kids to the fair one time and Tim (age 6) decided he
wanted to ride the double Ferris wheel. Id never been on one, but it looked
tame enough. As a kid, Ive never had any fear of heights. So on we got. The
first round or two was fine, but then we hit just right and were clear at the top
just as both wheels started down. Suddenly, I only wanted one thing off. But
around we went again and again and it seemed like every time we hit the
exact top point. I was trapped. I tried to signal the operator as we went around
the bottom. He feigned that he didnt see. I think he was a sadist. I was
entirely at his mercy and there was no mercy.

But there is mercy in Jesus. You can get off the ride of guilt any time you
choose. Just as Jesus is the center point of history, He must become the
center point of your life. The ride is great for awhile. There is pleasure in sin
for a season (Heb 11:25). But soon the price must be paid the wages of sin
is death" (Rom 6:23). Thats where it ends unless you ask off. He will
gladly stop the merry-go-round if youll plead for mercy. Because the gift of
God is eternal life thru Jesus Christ our Lord. You need a mediator. Jesus will
be your mediator. Lets pray.