A Continual Reminder: The Lord’s Supper
Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Hebrews 11:28; Luke 22:14-20 A Continual Reminder: The Lord’s Supper
Several changes in Passover were made over the years. Moses sermon in Deuteronomy 16 says the Passover will be observed in the place God commands and that all will return to their houses following the event.
During the days of Jesus, large crowds gathered in Jerusalem to observe the Passover. In John Cunningham Geikie’s two volume work The Life and Words of Christ, he describes Jerusalem at the Passover: “The city itself and the neighborhood became more and more crowded as the feast approached, the narrow streets and dark arched bazaars showing the same throng of men of all nations as when Jesus had first visited Jerusalem as a boy. Even the temple offered a strange sight at the season, for in parts of the outer courts a wide space was covered with pens of sheep, goats, and cattle to be used for offerings. Sellers shouted the merits of their beasts, sheep bleated, oxen lowed. Sellers of doves also had a place set apart for them. Potters offered a choice from huge stacks of clay dishes and ovens for roasting and eating the Passover lamb. Booths for wine, oil, salt, and all else needed for sacrifices invited customers. Persons going to and from the city shortened their journey by crossing the temple grounds, often carrying burdens… Stalls to change foreign money into the shekel of the temple, which along could be paid to the priests, were numerous, the whole confusion making the sanctuary like a noisy market.” According to a census by the high priest near the time of Jesus, it is reported that 256,500 lambs were slain during the Passover. On the afternoon before the Passover meal, the lambs were killed in the temple and the blood of each was offered to God on the altar. Priests stood in two rows with each priest holding a silver or gold basin that was pointed at the bottom so the basin could not be set down and the blood congeal. The Israelite cuts the throat of the lamb and the priest caught the blood in the basin. Then the basin is passed to the next priest to the next until the priest at the altar threw the blood in one action on the altar where it flowed into drains and disappeared below the temple. While this happens the people led by the Levites sing Psalm 113-118, the Hallel with the firsts line of each Psalm repeated by the people and then responding with “Hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord” after the other lines. (Danby, The Mishnah, pp. 136-151.
Now the furor of activity of the day has given way to the setting of the sun and the final hour for Jesus will soon come. The first three stars of the evening begin to become visible and the threefold blasts of the Silver Trumpet has sounded from the Temple-Mount heard not only in Jerusalem but into the countryside. (Alfred Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 2, p. 450) Jesus will be crucified during the event. He and His disciples are at the Passover meal together in an upper room on the evening of his crucifixion. This is the first and last Passover that Jesus appears at in Scripture. He has desired to eat this meal with His disciples because He knows that this will be the final need for a lamb to symbolize the sacrifice for sin that He will soon make on the cross. As the meal is coming to an end, Jesus ends the meal with the final bread and cup that we receive today:
This ordinary thing “unleavened bread” becomes extraordinary. Of the unleavened bread, Jesus says, “This is My body” and suddenly this flat cracker looking bread becomes more than just a remembrance of Israel’s past. During the Passover, Jesus, who is leading the meal, would have taken the middle of three unleavened loaves of bread eaten during the meal. This unleavened flat-bread loaf would have been broken and one half removed from its place in the cloth at the beginning of the meal and is brought back to the table as the meal concludes. The broken bread speaks to us of the broken body of Christ. Although not a bone of His body is broken, as no bone of the Passover Lamb was broken, yet His body is broken by the stripes of the whip and the thorns of the crown that He will wear. His broken body is the suffering in our place--Isaiah 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” As Paul asked the Corinthians, “Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16) Jesus answers the question, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (I Corinthians 11:24) Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51) Now bread they eat is the half that had been hidden. It symbolized eating at the Messiah’s banquet
Of the cup, Jesus said, “This is My blood”. The blood of a new covenant is shed. This cup would speak of the new relationship with God through the covenant of grace purchased and sealed by the blood of the Lamb of God--Jesus Christ our Lord. This blood of Jesus the Christ takes the place of the blood of the animal sacrifice. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7) John wrote (I John 2:1-2) “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Our relationship sealed in the blood of Jesus by the love and grace of Father-God. It cost the life of Christ to restore the lost relationship between mankind and God.
Knowing how people forget, this meal is to continue as a reminder. In the rush of life and the press of business, it becomes easy to forget. This meal reminds us of what Jesus said (John 6:54-57), “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.”