The Lamb of God

 

A Holy Supper Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

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?” (Mark 14:12)

  1. Introduction
    1. We are now in the midst of celebrating Easter with observances of Palm Sunday, the institution of the Holy Supper, and Easter itself.
    2. Just as the Lord repeatedly warned His twelve disciples about events that were about to take place, it is good for us to ready ourselves for such important festivals by reflecting on their importance and meaning in our lives.
    3. Today, our purpose is to reflect on the reasons why the Lord chose the festival of the Passover to bring His earthly ministry to a close and complete His process of Glorification.
  2. Joseph in Egypt
    1. 70 people1 enter the land of Egypt, 600,0002 adults (plus children) leave from slavery.
    2. Moses (and Aaron) raised up by the Lord to lead them out.
    3. Pharaoh encouraged to resist so all could see the power of Jehovah.
      1. Hardened heart” made it clear that it was Jehovah’s power not Pharaoh’s kind heartedness that set them free. Other examples of this:
          1. Gideon and the 300 conquer the Midianites.
          2. The Battle of Ai.
    4. Series of 10 plagues, each more punishing than the last until the angel of the Lord “passes over” the land, and the firstborn sons are killed.
      1. The sign that protects the innocent? The blood of a lamb.
        1. A lamb ritualistically slain for that purpose.
      2. Lamb of God – Jesus in Revelation
        1. Lesson: Rev. chapter 7, and many other references such as:
        2. (Rev 12:10-11) Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. {11} “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
      3. Jesus was God’s first-born son.
      4. So we see the spiritual reason why Passover was chosen as the time to bring His ministry to its conclusion.
        1. Symbolic slaying of the Lamb
        2. Maximum impact on the church because of all the people gathered in Jerusalem for the festival.
        3. Symbolic establishment of a new church.
          1. The Passover was a dramatic event that spelled the end of the state where the Jews were slaves in Egypt and forced them out into the wilderness where in order to survive they had to form an organization, depend on each other, and follow the rules set out for them by Jehovah.
          2. The Last Supper signalled an event of similar spiritual importance. It was the last ritualistic act of Jesus as the Jewish rabbi, and in changing it, He established the first truly Christian sacrament.
  3. The blood of the Lamb that was slain.
    1. AE 329
      1. He who does not know that there is a spiritual sense in the Word believes that “blood” here signifies the Lord’s blood upon the cross; but this is not at all the meaning in heaven; but to the angels there the paschal supper here described has a like meaning as the holy supper instituted by the Lord, in which, in place of the paschal lamb, there are the bread and the wine
    2. Arcana Caelestia 3994
      1. [6] That in the supreme sense the paschal lamb is the Lord, is well known; for the Passover signified the Lord’s glorification, that is, the putting on of the Divine in respect to the Human; and in the representative sense it signifies man’s regeneration; and the paschal lamb signifies that which is the essential of regeneration, namely, innocence; for no one can be regenerated except by means of the charity in which there is innocence.
    3. Jewish doctrines of atonement.
      1. Once a year the sins of the congregation were put upon an innocent animal, which was then driven into the wilderness, taking the sins with him.
    4. The traditional Christian doctrine of Redemption borrows heavily from the Jewish idea
      1. Jesus, the “innocent one” takes all sin upon Himself and then dies with it, purifying us all with His blood, His sacrifice.
      2. As appealing as this may be, there are two very basic problems with it.
        1. First, the sin that He is taking away is “original” sin – Adam’s sin that caused God to be angry with all humans and condemn them to eternal death! Where in the Word does it teach that we are to be punished for sins committed by others?
        2. Secondly, how does having someone else take my punishment free me from my own sin?
          1. Has it ever happened that a friend or a sibling got punished for something that you did? Did it make you feel better, or did it make you feel worse that someone else got a a punishment that you deserved? How does punishing the innocent help the sinner?
    5. Compare to the NC doctrine of Redemption.
      1. Innocent has two meanings here.
        1. Innocent can mean someone who didn’t commit the sin – like a sibling or a friend.
        2. Or, it can mean the One who is without Sin, God Incarnate.
      2. If, as traditional Christian doctrine would have us believe, He died to take away our sins, why do we still feel their pull?
        1. He didn’t die to take them away, but to conquer hell.
          1. By allowing Himself to die when He had the power to miraculously prevent it, He overcame in His final and greatest temptation, thus defeating the hells and their influence over us.
          2. We are redeemed, not by the removal of sin, but by having the freedom to reject it as-from-self.
        2. The blood shed represents the effort taken on our behalf to put hell back into its proper bounds.
  4. This is My blood of the new testament that is shed for many for the remission of sins. (14:24)
    1. Why does the Lord call the wine of the Holy Supper His blood?
      1. Some are vaguely uncomfortable with that image
      2. But, seen in the context of the larger picture, we can see how it fits.
        1. Blood = truth
          1. Jews ate meat without the blood to signify that their obedience was without an interior understanding of why they were obedient.
        2. Blood is a symbol of effort and sacrifice
          1. This is especially seen in the process of regeneration.
            1. Regeneration requires learning the truth and compelling self to live according to it (effort).
            2. Regeneration requires giving up our beloved evils (sacrifice)
        3. When we make that effort, we are cleansed
          1. Washed in the blood of Christ. (See REV 1:5)
            1. Which only makes sense if blood is a symbol for truth/falsity like water.
  5. Conclusion
    1. Sacrifice of Isaac (and the substitution of the ram)
    2. Passover
      1. The Paschal Lamb, the protection of its blood, and the rule that none of its bones were to be broken.
    3. Laws of Moses about blood in the sacrifice and food.
    4. Jesus as the “lamb led to the slaughter”
      1. ISA 53:6-7 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; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
    5. Jesus asking the disciples to “drink His blood.”
    6. John’s vision of the “Lamb that was slain”
    7. All go to create a picture, a single message repeated to many states in many ages.
      1. Do these things, because they are as much a part of Me as My own flesh and blood, and by doing them, you become one with Me.
      2. (Mark 14:22-26) 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. Amen.

First Lesson: Isa 53

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? {2} For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. {3} He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. {4} Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. {5} But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {6} 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. {7} He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. {8} He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. {9} And they made His grave with the wicked; But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. {10} Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. {11} He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. {12} Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. Amen.

Second Lesson: Rev 7:9-17

{9} After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, {10} and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” {11} All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, {12} saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” {13} Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” {14} And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. {15} “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. {16} “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; {17} “for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Amen.

Third Lesson: AE 329

Since it is said, “Thou didst redeem us to God in Thy blood,” and since this is understood within the church entirely according to the sense of the letter, and not according To any spiritual sense, I will also show that “blood” does not mean blood, or the Lord’s suffering on the cross, but Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, and the reception of it by man; thus that “Thou didst redeem us in Thy blood” means That He has delivered and freed from hell those who acknowledge Him, and receive Divine truth from Him. In illustration of this matter I will cite the following. Because all things that were commanded in the Israelitish Church were representative of things celestial and spiritual, and not the least thing was not so, it was also commanded, when the paschal supper was first instituted:-

That they shall take of the blood, and put in on the two sideposts and on the lintel upon the houses wherein they shall eat (the paschal lamb); and the blood shall be for you for a sign upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, nor shall there be a plague upon you from the destroyer when I shall smite the land of Egypt.3

He who does not know that there is a spiritual sense in the Word believes that “blood” here signifies the Lord’s blood upon the cross; but this is not at all the meaning in heaven; but to the angels there the paschal supper here described has a like meaning as the holy supper instituted by the Lord, in which, in place of the paschal lamb, there are the bread and the wine; and the Lord then said that the bread was His flesh and the wine was His blood; and every one knows, or may know, that bread and wine are what nourish the body, bread as food and wine as drink, and that in the Word, which in its bosom is spiritual, these things also must be spiritually understood, “bread” standing for all spiritual food, and “wine” for all spiritual drink. [2] Spiritual food is all the good that is communicated and given to man by the Lord, and spiritual drink is all the truth that is communicated and given to man by the Lord. These two, namely, good and truth, or love and faith, make man spiritual; it is said, or love and faith, because all good is of love, and all truth is of faith. From this it can be seen that “bread” means the Divine good of the Lord’s Divine love, and in reference to man, this good received by him; also that “wine” means the Divine truth that proceeds from the Divine good of the Lord’s Divine love, and in reference to man, this truth received by him. Since the Lord says that His flesh is bread, and His blood is wine, it can be seen that “the Lord’s flesh” means the Divine good of His Divine love, and “to eat” it means to receive it, and make it one’s own, and thus to be conjoined to the Lord; and that “the Lord’s blood” means the Divine truth that proceeds from the Divine good of His Divine love, and that “drinking” it means to receive that truth and make it one’s own, and thus be conjoined to the Lord. Amen.

1GEN 46:27

2EXO 12:37

3EXO 13:7

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