The Last Supper
READ Matthew 26:17-30
The betrayal by Judas (14-16) hangs over the whole occasion (21-25), creating a feeling of immense heaviness of heart (22). Judas remains full of cunning and lies to the end (25), even though his intentions are clearly known by Jesus. No one else seems to have suspected him. That Jesus’ death was foreordained by God does not absolve Judas of guilt (24). Jesus had been preparing the disciples for His forthcoming death for some time, but now the tragic climax is very close.
As head of His group of followers, Jesus would have given thanks for the bread towards the beginning of the meal. This time, however, Jesus pauses when the meal is well under way (26). Something new is about to take place. He identifies the bread He is holding with His own body, which was soon to be broken on the cross. Then He gave thanks for the wine, this time identifying it with His own blood (28). The setting is Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (17, 18), celebrated by Jews for centuries since the Exodus (12:1-30). This creates a clear link with God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He created a covenant then (Exodus 24); now a new covenant through the poured out blood of Christ was being established. This new covenant would involve deliverance in the form of forgiveness from sin (28; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Sacrificial victims were a familiar part of Old Testament ceremony (Leviticus 4, 5); Jesus was to die a sacrificial death on behalf of each one of His followers (28). Jesus finally promises renewed fellowship with Him at a future time when they are all in the Father’s kingdom (29). Until that time, Paul commands that Christians should continue to celebrate this meal (1 Corinthians 11:26).
PRAY Give thanks to the Lord for sending Jesus to die. Ask Him to reveal to you more of what Jesus’ death means. Ask Him to keep you in communion with Him today.