The Third Cup
The third cup of the Passover Meal, known as the “cup of blessing,” came next, accompanied by another prayer of thanksgiving.
This is what is recorded in Matthew 26:26-29
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
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. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Jesus understood the violent and sacrificial death he is about to undergo as the ratification of the covenant he is inaugurating with his people.
Here is the KEY POINT that we must not miss:
Jesus is using the same language that was used when Moses ratified the covenant of Sinai by the shedding of blood in Exodus 24:3-8. Look at it!
When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’S words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”
Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:3-8)
Therefore, what Jesus was saying is this: What we have here is a new exodus! In the Old Testament, God saved the people from the evil of Pharaoh and then created a deep, lasting connection with them by creating a covenant relationship with them, giving them the Law that spelled out the stipulations of this covenant relationship between the people and God. Moses received that Law written on Stone Tablets and in the Book of the Covenant. Moses ratified the covenant with the blood of the animals at that sacrifice. And then he says, in verse 8, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Now, at the “Last Supper,” it is the Passover Meal commemorating that event of the Exodus. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, tells them that the bread is his body, and the wine is the blood of the New Covenant. He says, echoing those words from Exodus, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Christ saves his people from their sins through his sacrificial death. Again, we have a “Covenant” between man and God. Again, it is ratified with blood. But this time it is the “New” Covenant. In fact some of our ancient manuscripts actually has that word there—“This is my blood of the new covenant…” and in Luke’s account of this event, Jesus says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” This is what the Prophet Jeremiah spoke of—
31 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
I watched the first part of the new ABC production of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS last night. I always wondered why they showed the old Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner film on Easter weekend every year (it will be showed again this Saturday on ABC).
Here is the reason why: We are to see the Exodus as a "type" of a new and greater deliverance! It is a foreshadowing of the spiritual reality of what the whole Bible points to! The incredible deliverance of the Exodus was commemorated each year with the Passover Feast. The Passover celebrates how God saved the people and led them to the Promised Land in which they can dwell with God in covenant relationship.
The Last Supper, eaten on Passover, and the Lord’s Supper, that we do in remembrance of this event, celebrates that God saves us from sin and is leading us on the exodus to the Promised Land in which we can dwell with God in covenant relationship. Only our experience is grander and more powerful—for we have the Law written on our hearts.
Therefore, this Third Cup, called the “Cup of Blessing” in the Hebrew tradition, truly is the greatest blessing of all! It is the blessing of eternal life!
This is what we celebrate at Communion!
The Fourth Cup
After this, it was customary to sing the rest of the Hallel (Pss 114-18 or 115-18) and probably drank a fourth cup of wine.
And that is basically what we read in Matthew 26:30--
"When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."