This week we welcome Steve Wicking, one of the Elders of Jubilee Church.
The Last Supper was actually the First Supper
Just before Jesus was betrayed, tried by a kangaroo court and put to death, he shared a final meal with his disciples. This wasn’t just a farewell dinner, Jesus chose to eat this meal on the day of the Jewish Passover; but why was this so significant?
The Passover meal was something that the Jewish people had been commanded to eat every year in celebration of the day they were rescued from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-42). However they didn’t just eat it, they took part in it. As they killed the lamb and ate the bitter herbs and the unleavened bread, they identified with the suffering and sudden liberation of the Exodus people.
What’s more, although they probably didn’t realise it at the time, successive generations participating in the Passover were also proclaiming the coming of the Messiah – the one who Isaiah prophesied would be the ultimate Passover lamb for the people (Isaiah 53:7-12).
And now here are the disciples, sharing a Passover meal with Jesus at the Last Supper. But this is not just any Passover meal. This is the ultimate Passover meal with the ultimate Lamb of God and it’s in this context that Jesus gives his followers a new symbolic meal. It’s a new Passover for the new covenant of his blood, which remembers, participates with and proclaims Him. What does it mean for us today?
Remembering – “…do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19)
As we eat the bread we remember the brutal reality of what Jesus did on the cross. The loaf is torn – just as his body was broken for us. Then as we drink the wine (or juice) we remember Jesus on his knees in the garden of Gethsemane, facing the spiritual horror of humanity’s sin and begging His heavenly father to “take this cup from me.” (Mark 14:36). But Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to remember ‘what I did’. He said ‘remember me’ and so that’s what we do. We remember why he died – because he is rich in love and mercy and overwhelmingly gracious and compassionate!
Participating – The last supper is more than just a ritual (1Corinithians 10:14-22).
Communion is a dynamically spiritual experience where we encounter Jesus as we honour and worship him with our actions. When we take communion together we are physically declaring Christ’s victory over sin and death and therefore his lordship over creation. That’s why, when Paul is challenging the Corinthians about their attitude to communion, he tells them to flee from idolatry. How can they participate in the body of Christ whilst also giving themselves to other gods? If we belong to Christ’s body, then we must flee from anything that would compete for our worship.
Proclaiming – Jesus said that he wouldn’t eat the Passover again until ‘it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 22:16).
Maybe the disciples would have remembered God’s promise in Isaiah 25 that He would destroy death and throw a banquet for all people? Later, in Revelation 19, John describes this feast as the promised wedding supper of the Lamb, the great victory celebration of the Kingdom’s fulfilment when all wrongs are righted, all sickness is totally healed and every tear is wiped away. In the meantime, as we take the bread and wine we ‘proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ (1Cor. 11:26) and we expect to see the kingdom break-out as we do.
As we take time out to focus on the momentous events of Jesus’ death and resurrection this Easter, it’s a great opportunity to share communion and to remember, participate with and proclaim Christ together as we look forward to the ultimate fulfilment of the Passover at the heavenly wedding party to come.
Thank you Steve. Steve spoke recently about being Devoted to the Breaking of Bread in our Devoted series.
We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper together at our Good Friday service at 4pm on March 29th.