In Matthew 26:28, what does Jesus mean by “This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for the remission of sin”?
In order to understand what Jesus wanted to communicate we need to read the verses that occur before and after Matt. 26:28.
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (NASB) Matt. 26:26-29
This statement from Jesus occurred in the Upper Room near the end of the Passover meal. Jesus was instituting what is called “communion” or the Lord’s Supper. Today, it is one of two sacraments practiced in many Christian churches. The second common sacrament is called baptism. A less common sacrament is called foot washing.
It is believed that Jesus handed a portion of bread to one of His disciples. He broke off a portion of the loaf of bread and passed it to someone else who did the same. The loaf was handed from one person to another, with each person doing the same. After Jesus had encouraged them to eat the bread, He then said, “. . . this is My body.” We know that He did not mean that they had some of His flesh in their hands and that they should eat His flesh, because each one had just taken a piece from a loaf of bread.
Then Jesus lifted up a cup and encouraged them to drink from their cups and said, “”Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins . . .” In the very next verse, Jesus says that He would not drink again from the “fruit of the vine” until the kingdom. Jesus’ own statement makes it clear that they had just drunk some wine. They did not drink His blood.
Jesus was using imagery or symbolism to communicate an idea. The bread and wine were symbols of His death on the cross. His body was cut and punctured and His blood was spilled to the ground.
The rest of verse 28 indicates that His death would establish a new relationship between God and man. Under the old Mosaic covenant, a man and woman discovered that they were sinners because they were challenged to keep the law completely. Every person discovered that could not keep God’s laws. They discovered that they were in fact sinners (Gal. 3:24).
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (NASB) Gal. 3:24
But under the new covenant, Jesus could remove man’s sins when he or she believed in Him. That is, their sins were remitted, or canceled, when he or she believed and trusted in God. The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant – Mosaic Covenant or The Law. The old covenant could never remove sins since the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin (Heb. 10:1-18). It was obsolete (Heb. 8:13). The New Covenant gave life – spiritual life by a new and better way (Heb. 10:19-20).
The death of Jesus’ physical body made it possible for us to have our sins forgiven. As a result we can escape hell and enter eternity with God. God loves each one us!
Reference Links:The New Covenant replaces the old (Hebrews 8:6-13)
The New Covenant (Hebrews 8:7-12)
When and why was the blood sacrifice required by God?