For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
This verse is intensely interesting, because it contains one of our Lord's rare sayings about the purpose of his death. For the most part the New Testament teachings on that great theme come from the apostles, who reflected on the event after it had passed into history, and with the light of the Resurrection upon it. Still, it is not just to say that the apostles originated the doctrine of the atonement. Not only is that doctrine foreshadowed in Isaiah 53.; in the institution of his Supper our Lord distinctly sets it forth. Before this he spoke of his life being given as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), and he called himself the good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:15).
I. JESUS SPEAKS WITH STRANGE EMPHASIS OF HIS BLOOD. In the present day some people shrink from all reference to the blood of Christ. They are disgusted with the coarse and unmeaning language of a certain class of preachers to whom the mere physical image seems to be more than the truth typified. But our Lord himself directs us to the subject in the wine of the Communion. We must interpret his meaning in the light of Jewish ideas. The Jew taught that the blood was the life (Leviticus 17:11). Then Christ gives us his essential life. The blood was shed in the sacrifice of the victim at the altar. Christ is the great Sacrifice for our sins, and as such he sheds his blood; i.e. the blood signifies Christ dying for us; and then, beyond the mere act of dying, it signifies the preciousness of his life given to us.
II. THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SEALS HIS NEW COVENANT. He was instituting a new order, a fresh relationship between man and God. The old covenant of the Jewish Law was obsolete. Men had outgrown it, and were ready to receive something larger and more spiritual. Jesus himself teaches that he institutes the fresh relation. As a covenant signifies certain terms and arrangements, this new covenant of Christ's has its new conditions. His whole teaching about the kingdom of heaven is expository of his covenant. Preparations in prophecy (e.g. Jeremiah 31:31) and explanations in apostolic writings help us further to understand it.
1. It is for all nations, not only for Jews.
2. It is of grace, not of law.
3. It is spiritual, not of "carnal ordinances."
III. THIS NEW COVENANT BRINGS REMISSION OF SINS.
1. Christ forgives sins. By exercising his right to do so our Lord roused early antagonism among the defenders of the old religion. But the world has since seen that here lay the very root and core of his work. Here is the essence of the gospel for us today - it promises forgiveness of sins.
2. This forgiveness springs from the death of Christ. We may find it difficult to trace the connection; but it is not an invention of human speculation, for we find our Lord himself speaking of it. It is Christ's own teaching that our sins are forgiven through the shedding of his blood.
IV. THE REMISSION OF SINS IS OF WIDE APPLICATION. Jesus says it is "for many." He did not die merely to save an elect few. He had large aims, and he will not "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied" until he has brought many souls out of darkness into light. Therefore the very institution of the Lord's Supper is an encouragement for the penitent to seek the pardon which Christ is so bountiful in bestowing. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.