12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”
16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 “This is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The Last Supper
I have been to Jerusalem and sung in the upper room where Jesus is purported to have had his last supper. It is strange how we don’t associate it with the Passover celebration, but in this passage it is closely connected. We see, then, that Jesus takes elements that already have significance and he gives them a new meaning. It helps, if you get a chance, to attend a Passover Seder and see a Messianic Jew (Jewish follower of Jesus) explain the connections. I grew up loving the Brethren Lord’s Supper service. We sat in rows facing a good English loaf and a cup of wine. The loaf was ripped in two by a member of the congregation and then passed along the rows of seated people. The wine was passed as one cup among many. In the original context Jesus would have used a loaf that looked much more like a cracker and he would have snapped it in two with a crack, I believe. He would have also had his own cup of wine and would have already drunk various cups at subscribed points. This would have been the second to last of those cups and he left the last one untouched because it would be consumed upon his return some time in the future. I don’t think that the Brethren service lost Jesus’ intent, though. I was glad that we broke bread every Sunday and not just on Passover. I could sense the tearing of Jesus’ body in a tortuous death. It helped me as a child to be thankful – to develop a pattern of gratitude. I saw the deep red wine as truly indicative of the blood. The wine we used was rich in colour and potent to taste. I understand why we use grape juice these days, but something about the taste of the wine stays with me. It left a slight burning in my nose and I think I have always associated red wine with blood. Again, as I remember those days, I have gratitude toward a man who was God and gave us a dramatic reenactment to remember his sacrifice. It was a great act of love, but it purchased so much; it covered so much.
We should eat broken bread and drink wine until he comes back. However, we have often tagged it onto other services. We don’t have a whole meal like Jesus did, we don’t even have a whole service. It is worth reflecting upon what he has done. What his sacrifice once did, it is still doing in the life of his faithful disciples.
Jesus, I thank you for your blood. I hate seeing blood. I hate pain. I think in many ways I might prove to be a coward. However, your love creates in me a desire to be bold. I wish to be strong and your Last Supper reminds me so clearly of the one I follow. When my church remembers you, help me to remember you with the depth that I do when I am with the Brethren.
- Where did Jesus send his disciples?
- What does a Passover Seder look like?
- How did Jesus change the Seder?
- How do you celebrate communion?
- What do you think is Jesus’ desire for you in celebrating the communion?
Jesus sent his disciples to a house with an upstairs guest room, so that they could prepare for the Passover. A Passover Seder goes through different rituals, such as checking for Elijah, dipping the bread in the bowl, having the children find the leavened bread around the house, etc. Much of what takes place symbolizes the waiting for the Messiah. Jesus changed the Seder because He is the Messiah. He used the previous rituals to bring a New Covenant with His body and blood. I love communion, and I praise God that communion has been a treasured celebration in my family. Although we participate in communion at church, our family also celebrates it at home. I have heard views opposing this, but I have not yet developed my own well-examined theology about my family’s practice. I do know that we have been greatly blessed by taking communion as a family. Communion is absolutely beautiful. I think that Jesus’ desire is for us to remember what He has done on our behalf, and His new covenant. We are to confess our sins and repent before doing so. We are to take the time to praise God and be in awe of Him. Communion rubs what Jesus did in the face of the enemy, reminding him how He overcame and was victorious.
Jesus sent the disciples into the city (Jerusalem) to a specific man’s home in which they would celebrate the Passover. The Passover was instituted in Egypt through Moses. The Israelites killed a lamb and put its blood on the door posts of their home and the angel of death passed over their home. Jesus is now the Passover lamb and it is through his broken body and his blood that believers will be covered from the death they deserve.
The way my church has celebrated communion is monthly taking bread and grape juice as a congregation, spending time in contemplation on what Christ has done for us, and reading some of these passages. I think it serves as both a remembrance and a celebration for what God has done.