The Old Testament is rich with pictures of Christ. And in this passage, we see the fulfillment of them in Christ.
The disciples were having the Passover meal, and after the first cup of wine, Jesus pulled out a piece of bread from a bag, a bread called matzah. There were actually three pieces of bread in this bag, which were put into three different compartments.
Why three? Some people said it represented Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Others said it represented the priests, Levites, and the people.
During the meal, the second piece was pulled out and broken. And for the first time in any Passover meal, Jesus gave his disciples the true meaning of the bread. He said,
This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)
Jewish Christians tell us now that they believe the three pieces of bread represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But it was Jesus who came out and lived among us. And in the matzah, we see what he was like. Matzah was made without yeast. In the Bible, yeast is always a picture of sin, and so the bread was a picture of Jesus’ sinless nature. The bread was also pierced, so that the bread would stay unleavened during the cooking process. In the same way, Jesus was pierced for our sins. And then the bread was broken, just as Jesus’ body was on the cross.
Then Jesus took the cup, and the cup he took was what the Jews called the “Cup of Redemption.” It was a reminder of how God had bought the Jews out of slavery to Egypt and set them free.
But Jesus, instead of pointing back to the past, pointed to the future, saying,
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
What did Jesus mean by new covenant? Well, when God brought the Jews out of Egypt, he gave them a covenant. An agreement. That if they would obey his laws, he would be their God and they would be his people. But there was a problem. No one could keep those laws perfectly.
And so God promised in the book of Jeremiah that he would make a new covenant that would not depend on our effort. He said,
I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor or a man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all will know me from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
In this new covenant, God made several promises. First he would change us from the inside, changing our hearts and minds so that we can obey him. Second, we would have a new relationship with him. We don’t need priests or pastors to stand between us and God. We can have a close intimate relationship with God himself. And third, all our sins would be wiped away. He will remember our sins no more.
Now Jesus was saying, “The time for the new covenant has come. My blood will be poured out for you so that your sins may be forgiven and you may find new life.”
So because of Jesus and what he did for us,
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:22-23)