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The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.


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Mark 13:11. Neither premeditate. This sentence, as well as the one which immediately follows, we have explained 131131     Harmony, vol. 1, p.453. under Matthew 10:19 Our Lord’s design in these words is, to relieve the disciples from that anxiety which interferes with the cheerful discharge of our duty, when we doubt our inability to sustain the burden. Not that he wishes us to fall asleep in indolent security, for nothing is more advantageous than to have such a consciousness of our weakness as produces humility and excites to prayer. But Christ advises us to cast all our cares into the bosom of our Father, so that, relying on his promised aid, we may pursue our course with cheerfulness. The promise is stated in different words by Luke; not that Christ will deliver his people from death, (for this must not always be expected,) but that he will give them a mouth and wisdom, to confound their adversaries. Now though Christ supplies them both with presence of mind and with ability to speak, yet I look upon these two words as connected by that figure of speech which is called hypallage; as if Christ had promised that he would guide their tongues, so as to enable them to make a wise and suitable reply.

He adds, that this wisdom will be victorious against all their enemies, because they will not be able to contradict, or to oppose it. Not that their impudence will yield the palm to truth, but because that truth, which they in vain strive to oppose, will triumph over their mad presumption. Would that all who are called upon to make a confession of their faith would rely on that assurance; for the power and majesty of the Spirit would be displayed in a different manner for overthrowing the ministers of Satan. Now that we are partly carried away by our own feelings, and, swelled with pride, rush on heedlessly, or advance farther than is proper, and partly confine ourselves within the limits of improper timidity, sad experience shows that we are deprived of the grace of God and the assistance of the Spirit. As Christ affirms, according to Matthew and Mark, that it is the Spirit of the Father that speaketh in us, (Matthew 10:10; Mark 13:11,) and here declares that he will give a mouth, we infer that it is His prerogative to fortify us by the Spirit.

Mark 14:24. This is my blood. I have already remarked that, when we are told that the blood is to be shed according to the narrative of Matthew — for the remission of sins, these words direct us to the sacrifice of the death of Christ, without the remembrance of which the Lord’s Supper is never observed in a proper manner. And, indeed, it is impossible for believing souls to be satisfied in any other way than by being assured that God is pacified towards them.

Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke — Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated. 197197     “Que la purgation de ses pechez a esté faite;” — “that satisfaction has been made for his own sins.”

Of the new testament. Luke and Paul (1 Corinthians 11:25) express it differently, the new testament in my blood, but the meaning is the same; for it is only by a spiritual drinking of blood that this covenant is ratified, so as to be firm and stable. Yet it may easily be inferred from it, how foolishly superstitious the Papists and others of the same stamp are in rigidly adhering to the words; for, with all their bluster, they cannot set aside this exposition of the Holy Spirit, that the cup is called blood, because it is the new testament in blood. But the same argument applies to the bread; from which it will follow that it is called the body; because it is the testament in the body They have no right now to contend that we ought to rely on the simple words of Christ, and shut our ears against expositions from without. It is Christ himself that speaks, and surely they will not deny that he is well qualified to interpret his own words. Now Christ openly declares that he called the bread his body, for no other reason than because he has made with us an everlasting covenant, that, the sacrifice having been once offered, we may now be spiritually fed.

There are two things here which deserve our attention; for from the word testament, or covenant, (διαθήκη,) we infer that a promise is included in the Holy Supper. This refutes the error of those who maintain that faith is not aided, nourished, supported, or increased by the sacraments; for there is always a mutual relation between the covenant of God and the faith of men. By the epithet New he intended to show that the ancient figures now cease, and give way to a firm and everlasting covenant. There is an indirect contrast, therefore, between this mystery and the shadows of the law; from which it is evident how much better our condition is than that of our fathers, since, in consequence of the sacrifice which was completed on the cross, we possess the truth in perfection.




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