Drink His Life!

Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant … (Matthew 26:27,28)


When Jesus instituted His Holy Supper, Matthew tells us that He said of the cup of wine, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood…” Only Matthew’s account retains the little word for. Though Jesus’ words can be understood correctly without the word for, yet through this little word Jesus identifies His reason why Christians should drink of the sacramental cup: “for this is my blood.” God’s people are not to hesitate or fear drinking Christ’s blood from the sacramental chalice, but they are to drink it expressly for the very reason that it is His blood!  It is apparent that God prohibited the drinking of blood in the OT for precisely the reason Christ invites the drinking of His blood in the NT: Blood is life. God had commanded, You must not eat the blood of any living thing, because the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it must be cut off [Lev 17:14]. God had consistently prohibited the drinking of blood as He repeatedly declared that a creature’s life resides in its blood, and only He was eligible to receive such life-blood back to Himself when it was received at His altar. Since OT sacrificial blood only belonged to God, to eat the blood of Christ is a sign of ultimate communion, a communion never even imagined in the OT!

In the minds of the Apostles who had seen Jesus perform numerous miracles, the sacramental invitation to drink His blood must also have been frightening. Surely these men, who had seen Jesus change water into wine, looked deeply into that Passover chalice and wondered if they would now see the blood that Christ declared to be present. They must have felt relief when they could neither see nor taste blood, only wine. But since their Lord had declared, “Drink from it…for this is my blood,” they must believe it. His blood must be in the chalice, for He said it was; they had been schooled by Jesus to always believe His word, even when it seemed to convey the impossible. Now they were caught between God’s restriction about blood and Christ’s command to drink it. F. C. N. Hicks summarizes this Jewish conundrum: “To drink blood! That is to tamper with the Holy: that is either a supreme achievement or it is a blasphemous venture into the forbidden.”[1]  If Christ is the Son of God, then drinking His blood in the Lord’s Supper is, undoubtedly, a supreme achievement!

As a token of life for life, God received the blood of innocent animals at His altar, staving off the penalty of death by granting atonement to the believers who approached His altar with such blood. As surely as sin causes death, undefiled life (blood) is able to cancel sin. Life cancels death. For life to totally cancel death, it must destroy the root of death, sin. The sacrificial life-blood in the OT was the undefiled life of innocent animals. This OT sacrificial blood was of course only a token. It was not able to create forgiveness but nevertheless able to convey it, much like the Lord’s Supper in this respect. Through the blood of these innocent animals, God’s OT people were prepared for the real atoning blood of Jesus. This life-blood of the undefiled Christ is so powerful that it can and indeed does reverse sin and death, for it is the blood of God (Acts 20:28)—and thus it is the life of God! Additionally Christ, unlike any OT sacrifice, would rise from the dead, thus enabling Him to invite what had been unthinkable: the drinking of undefiled blood. What Christians drink in Holy Communion is the blood of the Christ who died but is alive forevermore. To miraculously drink His blood is to drink life, and to drink life is to cancel sin and death. In the OT God was teaching about and preparing people for the blood of Christ.

Now come forward to the Holy Supper of our Lord and drink His blood.  In so doing, realize the Lord’s Supper has never been celebrated with a dead Christ!  Drink His blood, and in so doing realize you are drinking that which paid for sin.  Because His blood atones for sin, and as the wages of sin is death, you are drinking that which has cancelled death; you drink life.  Since Christ is the Son of God, and because blood is life, realize you are drinking the very life of God! In the Holy Supper you are drinking the life-blood of the resurrected Christ…the life-blood that will never be depleted, for Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him [Ro 6:9].

[1] F.C.N. Hicks, The Fullness of Sacrifice (London: S.P.C.K., 1956),246. See also Kleinig, Leviticus, 370.