Matthew 26:26-30, Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
There are traditionally four cups of wine that are consumed during a Passover meal. Each cup represents something different. It was probably before the third cup – the cup of blessing –
that Jesus forever transformed the Passover meal for the people of God. He showed himself bringing fulfillment to the Passover meal, transforming the meal into what we know as the Lord’s Supper. As Jesus explains his fulfillment of the Passover, he makes three allusions to the Old Testament to show how he is about to bring salvation to his people.
The first allusion we see to the Old Testament comes in Christ’s words “for this is My blood of the covenant.” In Exodus 24:8, God has delivered the people of Israel from Egypt. God leads the people into the wilderness, and there He provides them with water, manna, meat, and gives them instruction to observe the Sabbath. For three months, the Lord provides for Israel.
After three months, God brings the people to Sinai. At Sinai, God gives a message to Moses for the people: See how I have delivered you from Egypt; See how I have provided for you. God say, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6a).
The people respond: “all that the Lord has spoken we will do!” So the Lord commands Moses to have the people consecrate themselves. And on the third day, the Lord came down to Sinai. Amidst smoke, lightening, thunder, earthquakes, and the sound of blasting trumpets, the Lord gave to the people the Ten Commandments, but the sinful people could not handle the encounter with the holy God so they told Moses to go up and listen to the Lord. There, the Lord gave Moses more instruction for the people. Then Moses seals the covenant between God and Israel: “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.’  And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.  And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.  And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.  Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’  And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Exod 24:3-8).
With the sacrifice of young bulls, the covenant was sealed. The blood that was sprinkled on the altar and the people, represented the covenant that God had made with Israel.
When we come to the New Testament, we see Jesus using the same phrase that Moses used so many years before. Yet Jesus changes the wording slightly – he says for this is “my blood of the covenant.” Why does he do this? Jesus understood the violent death He was about to undergo was to be the sacrificial death that would ratify a new covenant with God’s people. Just as Moses ratified a covenant with Israel by the shedding of blood, so now Jesus would inaugurate a new covenant with the shedding of His own blood.
Earlier in the book Matthew has told us that Jesus would save His people from their sin (1:21, the words of the angel to Joseph). Here we see how Jesus would do that – it is through His sacrificial death that Jesus will save his people from their sins and usher in the beginnings of a new covenant with God’s people.
The people of Israel longed for the promise of a new covenant. In fact, the new covenant was a long awaited reality for the faithful followers of God. After Israel proved herself to be unfaithful to the covenant, God allowed her to be sent into exile as He had warned. And yet, even after decades of disobedience, God had mercy on Israel. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised that He would establish a new covenant with Israel.
But what’s to stop them from breaking this new covenant, just like they broke the old one? My son loves to play with balloons. But almost as much as playing with them, he love popping them. I can give him a balloon and he’ll play with it, then pop it. I can blow-up another one and say, ‘don’t pop it,’ but what’s to stop him? For him, the temptation is too great.
Likewise, as humans, we are sinful. Sin and rebellion is the very definition of human nature. There was nothing to stop Israel from breaking another covenant if it was like the first one. God knew that, so he promises a different kind of covenant. He says he will make a covenant that the people will not break. How could he do this? God promised to change the people’s heart, by putting his Spirit in them.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 – “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,  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.  But 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.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
This is the new covenant that Jesus is going to bring about. A covenant made up of men, women and children who have true faith in Christ, because God himself puts it in them, through the Holy Spirit that regenerates our hearts, and empowers our obedience to God. Jesus tells his disciples that it is through his coming sacrifice on the cross, through the shedding of his own blood, that he will bring about the new covenant long promised by God.
The book of Isaiah is all about servanthood. Isaiah shows how Israel failed to be the servant that God wanted her to be. And yet, Isaiah also describes a unique Servant will
ulfill all that Israel was supposed to be. Isaiah gives us five songs about this Servant. These songs describe the Servants’ humiliation, vicarious suffering for His people, and His exaltation by God.
Here in this Matthew passage, Jesus identifies Himself as Isaiah’s Servant. Three phrases in Jesus’ statement about His blood can be seen as coming from various passages within the Servant Songs. But the clearest is from Isaiah 53. Jesus says, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
In Isaiah 53, the prophet says, “ Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth ….  Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; [he will] make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities …. he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
Again, we see that Christ is telling His disciples that His death, the shedding of His blood will achieve an atonement for the sins of many. Just as Jesus broke the bread, so His body would be broken; just as Jesus poured the wine, so His blood would pour from His body. It is for us that that His body was broken, and His blood spilled.
As the prophecy tells us: Christ bore the punishment for the sins of others. It is in this way that Christ came to save many – He became the atoning sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God against sin.
Today as we remember that first Lord’s supper, let us remember again how Jesus fulfilled the promises of God, and won our salvation for us.