by T. Austin-Sparks
(March 8, 1964 P.M.)
Will you please turn to the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter ten, at verse sixteen, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?" Chapter eleven, at verse twenty-five, "In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood."' The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? This cup is the new covenant in My blood. In the few times that I have been with you at the Lord's Table, I have sought to show something of the fuller and deeper meaning of this table. And that is what I want to do tonight.
I want to say just a little about the cup of the Lord. In the two passages which we have read, two things are said about the cup. Firstly, that it is a communion in the blood of Christ. The real words are these: Is it not that which we have in common with the blood of Christ? So that in the first place, it is something which we have together in the blood of Christ. And the second thing is: That the cup is the new covenant in His blood. I am going to take the second first: The new covenant in His blood. Perhaps we have not recognized the real meaning, the deep meaning of the covenant in the blood of Jesus. It is something which has made us absolutely one with Christ. A covenant is something which brings two people together in absolute agreement. In a covenant, they both put their hands down on the document and say, 'We are absolutely one in this matter. We commit ourselves together to the terms of this covenant. As long as we live, we stand together as one person in this covenant.'
Jesus says, "THIS CUP IS THE COVENANT IN MY BLOOD." And He says, "For those who enter into this covenant with Me, I will lay down My Life for them. I will live for their interests. All their interests will be My interests. And I will give My Life for them." This blood is a new covenant. But there are always two parties to a covenant. And in principle what applies to one party applies to the other. Jesus says, "This is the token that I lay down My Life for you." He says, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Will you come onto the common ground of this covenant? Will you take this cup and mean, when you drink it, what I mean when I shed My blood?" Of course, there is a difference, He died for our sins; we cannot die for our sins. By His blood, He atoned for the sin of the world. We can never do that.
But at the same time, this covenant means the same thing for us. It means that we have entered into a covenant with the Lord. In His blood, we have been made one with Him. And now, forever, we live only for Him. His interests are our supreme interests. We will live for Him and we will die for Him. Do you know, dear friends, every time we take this cup, that is what it means? That is the deeper meaning of the cup of the new covenant. On His side, He has committed Himself to us. If we dare to take that cup, we mean that we commit ourselves to Him. We have been joined in an everlasting covenant in His blood. As we have partaken of His blood, so we have been made one with Him in life. I trust that we shall all remember this every time we come to the Lord's Table. When each one of us takes that cup, let us stay for a moment, and ask ourselves the question: What does this mean? What do I mean by this? What does Jesus mean by this? It means that He and I are one in a Life covenant forever. As His Life was for me, so my life is for Him.
I remember an incident some years ago in India. We were gathered around the Lord's Table; and sitting on the front seat were two young Indian men. They were a very fine type of young man. And I was speaking about the Lord's Table. I was saying something about what it means to partake of the cup and the loaf - how it requires an utter committal to the Lord. And I asked everybody to face this matter again. Then we bowed in prayer. And the brother brought the cup, and he took it from one to another; he brought it to one of these men. I noticed he took it in his hand, and with his eyes closed for a moment, he waited quietly, evidently thinking very hard about this, and then as though he came to a decision, he lifted the cup to his lips and drank. And then it was passed to the other young man next to him. He took it in his hand, and I saw his face was going through some terrible struggle, and he was thinking hard about this, and then at last he shook his head like this, and passed the cup on.
He had made his decision. He had said, "I cannot enter into this covenant. I cannot let Jesus have my whole life." He was honest with God. I admired that young man. Although I was very sorry that he did that, that he went away from that meeting a man who refused to let Jesus have his life, I did have to say, well, I admired him for being so honest. Many will just take the cup and drink it. It is a matter of form. It is what Christians do. It is what we do every time we come to the Lord's Table. We never pause for a moment, before we drink, and ask ourselves again the question: Has Jesus really got the whole of my life? Do I mean to be as wholly for Him as He has been for me? Do I put my hand to the covenant again, and say, "For life, for death, for eternity, I am the Lord's?" That is what it means, dear friends. This is what the Lord means by it. And that is what He wants us to mean by it. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."
Now the time has gone, I cannot say anything about the other passage. It may just be that I have another opportunity, I do not know. But remember this, if I never say any more to you, this is a blood covenant between the Lord Jesus and us, between us and the Lord Jesus. We have entered into an eternal understanding with the Lord Jesus. Because He has given Himself so absolutely for us, we give ourselves absolutely to Him and for Him.