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The disciples were shocked. They evidently did not suspect Judas Iscariot for they
asked, "Surely it is not I?". (The Greek expected the answer, No). The Lord's reply was,
"The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Me will betray Me". They had all
done this, but the language means that one of these who had eaten bread with Him had
violated the rules of eastern hospitality by betraying Him. Eastern people are emphatic
on this point. Eating someone's bread ties the hands and compels friendship. (Compare
Psa. 41: 9 with David's similar experience and note the words "did eat of my bread").
Judas tried to bluff it out by asking the same question (Matt. 26: 25). Christ's reply
seems indeterminate, "thou hast said" (A.V.). But in the original it means, as the N.I.V.,
"Yes, it is you". We are not told of Judas' reaction, for he evidently left the room at this
point (John 13: 24-30).
The Lord now proceeds with the meal. He takes one of the hard flat Jewish loaves
and breaks it so that each might have a piece, saying, "Take and eat; this is My body"
(Matt. 26: 26). "Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying,
Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many
for the forgiveness of sins." The N.I.V. in a footnote says, "some manuscripts have the
new (i.e. before the word "covenant"). In Luke's account (22: 19, 20), the words are
inserted, as they are in I Cor. 11: 24, 25. There can therefore be no doubt that the Lord
used the words "the new covenant", and this can only refer to Jer. 31: 31-37. A
covenant is an agreement between two parties and here they are clearly stated--Jehovah
on the one hand and Israel and Judah on the other, just as they were when the old
covenant of law was instituted (Exod. 24: 8).
In seeking to expound this passage, the churches have forgotten this and mountains of
wrong doctrine have been erected on their varying ideas. The Lord Jesus asserts that His
shed blood is "for the forgiveness of sins". The words of Prof. A. T. Robertson are to the
"This clause (the remission of sin) is in Matthew alone, but it is not to be restricted for
that reason. It is the truth. This passage answers all the modern sentimentalism that finds
the teaching of Jesus only pious ethical remarks or eschatological dreamings. He had the
definite conception of His death on the cross as the basis of forgiveness of sin." (Word
Pictures in the New Testament, pp. 209, 210).
The bread and the wine symbolized His body and blood. The figure Metaphor is used
here, for He held the bread and wine in His hands. Obviously His physical body was
already present so that the bread and wine could only be symbols of that body. Yet the
ritualist ignores this fact and invents the myth of these symbols being His literal body and
blood, thus not only deceiving himself, but millions of other people as well. The figure
of speech used here is very common. When we point to a map and say "this is America",
or to a photograph and say "this is my father", no one misunderstands. The Lord Jesus
used this figure many times when He said, "I am the door", "I am the true vine", "You
are the salt of the earth", etc., where in each case the verb to be means "represents".
The New Covenant made with Israel is ratified here by His shed blood (His atoning
death), and it is the solid basis for Israel's redemption in the future and the setting up of
the Messianic kingdom (Rom. 11: 26-29).