The Last Supper
Text: Matthew 26 : 1 - 30
The last meal Jesus had with His disciples was the Passover. We may even call it The Last Supper. All the elements of the Passover meal were there. Each part of the Passover held great symbolism and was to be appreciated accordingly. It was a time of renewal of faith in God and a time for meaningful fellowship as well.
THE LORD’S SUPPER
As the meal drew to a close Jesus did something quite different. There were only two elements in the symbolic meal that He wanted His disciples to observe henceforth. This symbolic meal is often called The Lord’s Supper.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it,
and gave it to the disciple and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them,
saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the
new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
What a surprise this must have been to the disciples! They had celebrated the Passover Feast for all their lives! Never did they realize that anyone could add new meaning to this Feast that had been observed for millennia! Only Jesus could find and add new meaning to something so old, it was an institution to the nation!
THE ORDINANCE OF THE PASSOVER
The Passover remembered how God delivered Israel from Egypt with a mighty hand. Again and again, Israel would read and remember the ancient text written by Moses of the first Passover.
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night,
and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,
both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt
I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses
where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you;
and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when
I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial;
and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout
your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting
This event was of great historical and theological significance. Israel would be well advised to observe it throughout their generations. This was a command of the Lord that Israel did keep faithfully!
The Passover Feast was strictly for the children of Israel! No Gentile could ever partake of the Passover! New meaning must be added to the Lord’s Supper, for the death of Jesus would have far wider application than just the nation of Israel.
NEW MEANING ADDED
Only Jesus could have added new meaning! The very words that He used were significant. Let us take time to ponder over the words He spoke.
‘Take, eat, this is My Body’
Bread was staple to Israel. Unleavened bread was to be consumed at the Passover Meal and for the Feast of the Unleavened Bread that followed immediately after. Jesus gave a whole new meaning to the bread that He gave to His disciples that evening. He spoke of the bread as something that represented and symbolized His body!
The synoptist Luke added an important word. He observed,
“This is My body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of Me.”
Some have supposed that every time the Lord’s Supper is observed, the bread is magically transformed into the body of Jesus! Could this have been the meaning Jesus intended? A careful study of the text would not yield this meaning. The original context would not allow for this far-fetched interpretation.
Many interpreters seek mysterious also magical meaning into what Jesus said. There really is no need to do that at all. The clue to the correct interpretation of what Jesus meant may be found in this truth. Jesus NEVER gave magical meaning to anything He said or did!
Jesus was simply making a reference to His death. Obviously, His physical body had to die. However, through His death He would be able to give life and strength to all who believed in Him.
“Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant…”
The Bread and the Cup must be read and interpreted together, as the Body and the Blood of Christ. Both have equal significance. One is not more important or sacred than the other. The giving of the Body to be crucified, will come the shedding of blood.
The blood of Christ was intriguingly associated with “The new covenant”. It was also associated with the remission of sins. Both concepts are filled with deep meaning. We must devote some time to fathoming these great truths Jesus sought to teach His disciples. As the Passover was seen as an “ordinance” for Israel, so The Lord’s Supper is observed as an “ordinance” by the Church.