Jesus Eats the Passover Meal
(Mark 14.12-21; Luke 22.7-13; John 13.21-30)
17On the first day of the Festival of Thin Bread, Jesus' disciples came to him and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal?”
18Jesus told them to go to a certain man in the city and tell him, “Our teacher says, ‘My time has come! I want to eat the Passover meal with my disciples in your home.’ ” 19They did as Jesus told them and prepared the meal.
20-21When Jesus was eating with his twelve disciples that evening, he said, “One of you will surely hand me over to my enemies.”
22The disciples were very sad, and each one said to Jesus, “Lord, you can't mean me!”
23 He answered, “One of you men who has eaten with me from this dish will betray me. 24The Son of Man will die, as the Scriptures say. But it's going to be terrible for the one who betrays me! That man would be better off if he had never been born.”
25Judas said, “Teacher, you surely don't mean me!”
“That's what you say!” Jesus replied. But later, Judas did betray him.
The Lord's Supper
(Mark 14.22-26; Luke 22.14-23; 1 Corinthians 11.23-25)
26During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.”
27Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and drink it. 28 This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven. 29From now on I am not going to drink any wine, until I drink new wine with you in my Father's kingdom.” 30Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he sat down with his disciples and ate with them. The event has come to be called the Last Supper and at the end of the meal, he did something that Christians have come to almost take for granted. With just a couple of exceptions, every Christian denomination celebrates this event in some manner or another on a regular basis.
Like a family meal, this supper gave Jesus one last opportunity to sit down with his disciples and have them share something special together. We get glimpses of the conversation and we pick up on the concerns for what was going to happen over the next few hours.
While the meal and conversation were going on, Jesus took some bread and a cup of wine and taught them that there were vital lessons to learn in the soon coming events. The few who were with him at the cross would remember the broken bread, and would realize that in his brokenness would come their healing. As they saw him beaten and bleeding, they would remember the cup and would know that by this would come the lifting of sin and guilt, replaced by the joy and peace that only he could give.
They would also remember that the one who broke the bread was the one who had said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.” (John 6:35) And the one who held the cup was the one who had said, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) Soon it would all make sense.
And then Jesus gave them the promise that a better day was coming—he would be alive again and would sit down with them in the kingdom of his Father. The disciples wouldn’t understand this until after resurrection day, but we live on this side of the empty tomb, so we get it.
We were not at the cross, or at the empty tomb. But whenever we hold the bread and the cup, we remember, and we look forward to his Kingdom too.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the lessons we learn in the symbols of the broken bread, and the cup of wine. Bread of Life, thank you for your broken body by which we are healed. Giver of the water of Life, thank you for your shed blood by which we are redeemed and cleansed. And thank you for the symbols that help us never forget. In your name. Amen.