Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them (Mark 14:23).
Ages before, God had said “I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people” (Leviticus 17:10). Keep in mind that the statement “cut them off from the people” implied a death sentence – likely to be carried out by God Himself.
In the Old Testament, life was bound up in blood (Leviticus 17:11). It was too precious to be used as food. If it was used at all, it was to be offered to God for forgiveness of sins, but never to be consumed by humans. So imagine how horrified the disciples must have been when Jesus passed around his cup of wine, had his disciples drink from it, and then told them: “This is my blood.”
Christ’s blood was certainly an atonement offering – his ransom price for our sin. But his life was also the life of God. To drink the blood of Christ was to share in his life and destiny. His life is the only life worth sharing so intimately, and the life of Christ is the only life worth emulating (John 6:53ff).
In the Lord’s Supper, we remember not just that Jesus died, or that he died for us, or even that he died so we might find forgiveness. It is also a reminder that we have voluntarily decided to share in his life. While we affirm this decision in observing the Lord’s Supper, to be true, it must be seen in the way we live each day.