Saturday after Laetare
Scripture: St. Mark 14:1-31 (NKJV)
14:1 After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. 2 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.”
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.
6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.
12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”
13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”
16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.
17 In the evening He came with the twelve. 18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”
19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?”
20 He answered and said to them, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”
22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”
30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”
31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.
It is our Lord’s words which instituted our Lord’s Supper. The Words of Institution, used in the Divine Service, are a conflation of the four recorded accounts so that we might not lose any detail. Even though St. Mark’s account doesn’t include the explicit words, “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28), nor does it include the command for the church to repeat it, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:24), the benefit and purpose are there. St. Mark’’s brief account tells us the Lord took some of the unleavened bread and proclaimed that it was His body and gave it to them to eat. Similarly, the Lord took a cup filled with wine and proclaimed that it was His blood of the covenant. They all drank from that one cup.
The Body and Blood of Our Lord is the very One which was being “poured out for many” in sacrifice on the cross. The words, “for many,” teach us that His suffering and death was not just for the disciples present that night, but for “many,” that is all people. Other passages (1 John 2:2) confirm that “many” does not refer to a limited atonement of believers only. The “for” (or “on behalf of”) teaches a benefit by substitution. Jesus does it on behalf of them, so that He might redeem them (Gal. 3:13). Even St. Mark’s brief account shows that our Lord desires that all men might come to believe and receive His “poured out” Body.
It was God alone who fulfilled the Old Testament covenant (berith) when His Son was sacrificed. The benefits of Jesus’ substitution—proclaimed in His new testament (diatheke)—are given out in the Lord’s Supper.
O Lord, through the reception of Christ’s Body and Blood, give us forgiveness of sins. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.