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THE BLOODY SWEAT.
"Like sacrificial wine
Poured on a victim's head,
Are those few precious drops of thine,
"They are the pledge and seal
Of Christ's unswerving faith,
"They, to his Church of old,
To each true Jewish heart,
In gospel graces manifold,
Communion blest impart."
In Gethsemane, the sins and the needs of humanity so pressed upon the burdened soul of Jesus that his very life was forced out, as it were, from his aching, breaking heart, in his boundless sympathy with his loved ones, and in his infinite longings for their union with God, through their union with himself, in the covenant of blood he was consummating in their behalf. "And being in an agony, he prayed more earn
1"In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ endured mental agony so intense that, had it not been limited by divine interposition, it would probably have destroyed his life without the aid of any other sufferings; but having been thus mitigated, its effects were confined to violent palpitation of the heart accompanied with bloody sweat.
Millingen's explanation of bloody sweat is judicious. 'It is probable,' says he, 'that this strange disorder arises from a violent commotion of the nervous system, turning the streams of blood out of their natural course, and forcing the red particles into the cutaneous excretories.'" (Stroud's Physical Cause of the Death of Christ, pp. 74, 380).
estly: and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."1
Because of his God-ward purpose of bringing men into a loving covenant with God, Jesus gave of his blood in the covenant-rite of circumcision. Because of his man-ward sympathy with the needs and the trials of those whom he had come to save, and because of the crushing burden of their death-bringing sins, Jesus gave of his blood in an agony of intercessory suffering. Therefore it is that the Litany cry of the ages goes up to him in fulness of meaning: "By the mystery of thy holy incarnation; by thy holy nativity and circumcision; . . . by thine agony and bloody sweat, Good Lord, deliver us."
In process of time, the hour drew nigh that the true covenant of blood between God and man should be consummated finally, in its perfectness. The period chosen was the passover-feast-the feast observed by the Jews in commemoration of that blood-covenanting occasion in Egypt when God evidenced anew his fidelity to his promises to the seed of Abraham, his blood-covenanted friend. "Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come. that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."2 "And when the hour 2 John 13: 1.
1 Luke 22: 44.
THE COMMUNION FEAST.
was come, he sat down, and the apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." Whether
he actually partook of the passover meal at that time or not is a point still in dispute; 2 but as to that which follows there is no question.
"As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body." "This do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner after ”4 “and when he had given thanks, he gave [it] to them," "saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant," or, as another Evangelist records, "this cup is the new covenant in my blood,"7 which is shed for many unto remission of sins"8 [unto the putting away of sins]. "This do, as oft as
ye drink it, in remembrance of me." drank of it." 10
"And they all
here was the
Here was the covenant of blood; communion feast, in partaking of the flesh of the fitting and accepted sacrifice;-toward which all rite and symbol, and all heart yearning and inspired
1 Luke 22: 14, 15.
2 As to the points in this dispute, see Andrews's Life of our Lord, pp. 425-460, and Farrar's Life of Christ, Excursus X., Appendix.
prophecy, had pointed, in all the ages. Here was the realization of promise and hope and longing, in man's possibility of inter-union with God through a common life-which is oneness of blood; and in man's intercommunion with God, through participation in the blessings of a common table. He who could speak for God here proffered of his own blood, to make those whom he loved of the same nature with himself, and so of the same nature with his God; to bring them into blood-friendship with their God; and he proffered of his own body, to supply them with soul nourishment, in that Bread which came down from God.
Then it was, while they were there together in that upper room, for the consummating of that bloodcovenant of friendship, that Jesus said to his disciples: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you. No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends [friends in the covenant of blood-friendship now]; for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known unto you." A common life, through oneness of blood, secures an absolute unreserve of intimacy; so that neither friend has aught to conceal from his other self. "Abide in me, and I in you; .
1 John 15: 13-15.
THE PRAYER OF FRIENDSHIP.
apart from me ye can do nothing," was the injunction of Jesus to his blood-covenant friends, at this hour of his covenant pledging. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”1
Then it was, also, that the prayer of Jesus for his new blood-covenant friends went up: "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee: even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that whatsoever [whomsoever] thou hast given him, to them he should give eternal life [in an eternal covenant of blood]. And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send [as the means of life], even Jesus Christ. Holy Father, keep them in thy
name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, Neither for these [here pres
even as we are.
ent] only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me. And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that thou didst send me, and lovedst them, 1John 15: 4-7.