The Last Supper
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, take it; this is my body. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many, he said to them. I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.’” Mark 14:22-24
The night he was betrayed Jesus celebrated the traditional Passover feast with his disciples. That meal had very specific ceremonial aspects remembering the deliverance of the Jews from bondage to the Egyptians. Included in the meal was the eating of the memorial lamb of sacrifice. The blood of this lamb had been smeared on the doorposts of the every Israelite home in Egypt as a sign the angel of the plague was to pass over this home. This is the background for Jesus’ word declaring that the bread of the Passover was his body and the wine in the cup his blood.
In a few short hours Jesus would be taken by his enemies. With the silence of a lamb he would be led to the place of execution. Then he would yield up his body to be nailed to a cross. As he was lifted up he became a signpost for all eternity that judgment would pass over those who trusted in his blood.
These are the fundamental concepts upon which Jesus’ words were based. But there is more. When Christians eat the bread they partake in the mystery of Christ’s identification with them. When they drink the wine of the cup they are sharing in Jesus life and presence. Various Christians describe this ceremony differently but all agree that it is a feast of identification with Christ and He with them. It is about becoming the children of God, sitting at His table, enjoying his fellowship and finding safety in His household.
When we break the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper we should be mindful of the wonderful meanings that go with it. Most of all we should be reverently aware that God in Christ is with us. It is a holy moment, the most sacred of all moments and a time to bow down our heads in Thanksgiving.