The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper Luke 22:14-20
It’s a joy to be a part of a church family that celebrates Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection not only on Easter Sunday, but really every Sunday as we gather together proclaiming Jesus through word and song. But Easter Sunday feels particularly special, it’s kind of like the Super Bowl- the one football game that carries more joy, intensity, and excitement than the other games. I pray that you might just experience a little Super Bowl Sunday excitement today as we celebrate our Lord Jesus through the partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper, or the Last Supper as it is often is referred to as- was the Passover Meal that Jesus shared with His closest disciples before His death on the cross. More than likely this was the third Passover Meal that Jesus had shared with His disciples, but this one before His death was special in that its significance was changed in the eyes of those with Him. The Passover Meal had been commemorated and celebrated every year, for over 1400 years, dating all the way back to when God had sent Moses to rescue the small Jewish nation from Egypt. After a series of God-sent plagues, we see in Exodus 12 God instructed Moses and the people of Israel that in order to be saved, they needed to sacrifice a lamb, to cook it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The blood of the lamb was to be smeared on their doorposts, and then God killed the first born in every Egyptian home, but those under the protection of the blood of the lamb were spared. After the meal, and after God struck the Egyptians, the children of Israel were then released by Pharaoh and they began their journey to the land of Israel. God said that same night that they were to eat this meal every year as a memorial, to celebrate this event of their rescue as a permanent ordinance. So, generation after generation celebrated this Passover Meal, in order to remember and celebrate God’s salvation that night.
With this history in mind, let’s look at what Jesus did and said during this Passover Meal before His death, and consider how Jesus forever changed His follower’s traditional concept of the Passover Meal. We’ll read together in Luke, chapter 22, verses 14-20.
Our key verse that outlines how Jesus changed the significance of the Passover Meal is in verse 19, Jesus told His disciples that they were do that meal now in remembrance of Him. What a bold statement. 1400 years of history, every year celebrating the powerful event of God’s rescue, and Jesus now says to eat this meal not in memory of God rescuing the people from Egypt, but rather to eat it in memory of Himself! For Jesus to have said this, He indicated to His disciples that the way in which God was using Him to rescue the people of Israel was greater in scope that the way in which God had rescued the people of Israel during the time of Moses. Here was yet another way in which Jesus was fulfilling and completing the Old Testament. And it wasn’t until after His death and resurrection that His followers realized further the symbolism that Jesus was intending to convey.
They realized that the Passover Lamb was no longer an unblemished 1-year old male lamb, but is now to be seen as an unblemished, sinless Jesus- God Himself in flesh. The lamb’s blood over the doorposts was replaced by Jesus’s blood that would cover even the darkest of sins hidden in one’s heart. The unleavened bread now represents Jesus’s own body given for His followers. The bitter herbs are not offered as a compliment to a roasted slice of lamb, but rather are to be remembered in how they were mixed with wine and offered to a dying Savior on a cross. The fruit of the vine not only washes down food consumed, but now symbolizes the Messiah’s own blood that washes away the sin of mankind. This is the fulfillment of the Passover Meal, the Lord’s Supper, this is what we remember and celebrate as we partake in a bite of unleavened bread- today also known as a cracker without baking soda in it- and as we partake in a swig of the fruit of the vine- I like to call it new wine, meaning I just bought grape juice new at the grocery store and it hasn’t had time yet to ferment into wine.
So, it’s Jesus that we remember and celebrate today. We focus on how He has brought about a rescue bigger and grander than even God’s rescue of His people from Egypt. But I want to point out to you that the Passover Meal that Jesus fulfilled through instituting the Lord’s Supper with the bread and the cup, is still only partially fulfilled. Look at what Jesus says in verses 15 and 16…
So, even as we celebrate today the modified Passover Meal, as the Lord’s Supper, there is coming still another modification to it. And that modification- that fulfillment- will take place, as the end of verse 16 states, in the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, we will sit down to what the book of Revelation describes as the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9) The marriage supper of the Lamb will ultimately fulfil the Passover Meal and the Lord’s Supper. So today, not only are we remembering the past, but we are looking forward to the future. Our celebration is part memorial and part prophetic in nature. We celebrate Jesus’s rescue of us from sin, death, and decay; and we celebrate our inclusion in God’s coming Kingdom, a kingdom absent of sin, death, and decay.
Now if you’re with us this morning and haven’t bought in completely to that coming kingdom, I advise for you to refrain from taking the cracker and juice that our deacons will be shortly passing out. No questions will be asked of you, no judgement will be passed on to you from our people. But I would encourage you to investigate deeper the claims of Jesus, and to consider pursuing a relationship with Him, following Him and receiving His forgiveness, so that you too might one day participate with His people in the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Right now, I’m going to offer up a prayer of thanks, and after that our deacons will serve you. But before we eat and drink, we’ll first have a few minutes of prayerful reflection, and I’ll lead you through that time. Deacons, if you’ll go ahead and come forward, and then we’ll pray.