The Lord’s Supper
Key Verse: “Ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.”
TODAY, MARCH 24, MARKS this year’s date, according to Jewish reckoning, of the anniversary of the typical Passover, kept by faithful Jews, including Jesus himself at his First Advent. It is in harmony with this that, in our lesson, we find Jesus instructing his disciples, Peter and John, to “prepare us the passover, that we may eat.” (Luke 22:8) This was done, the disciples having obtained a “large upper room” for this purpose.—vs. 12
Although his disciples did not yet appreciate the full import of the occasion, Jesus understood it would be this very night that he would be taken, made to stand before the Jewish and Roman authorities in a series of mock trials, and be nailed to a cross the following morning. He knew that in less than twenty-four hours, his earthly life and ministry would be finished. With that in mind, and as he sat with his closest disciples, the twelve, he saw the need to impart to them, and to us, a new remembrance—one that would take the place of the annual Passover commemoration.
With his death, which was to occur on the same day, Jewish reckoning, as the killing of the typical Passover lamb, Jesus would fulfill the words of John the Baptist, who said of him, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus, by keeping every aspect of God’s law perfectly, and by being slain as the antitypical Passover lamb, took the place of the old arrangement, making it no longer necessary for his followers to keep those ceremonies. As Paul later said, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”—I Cor. 5:7
In the typical arrangement, God had instructed the Israelites to keep an annual “memorial” of the Passover, which had been the means by which their firstborn were spared from the plague of death, and by which, as a nation, they obtained release from Egyptian bondage. (Exod. 12:12-14,26,27) Now, as he was about to become the antitypical Passover lamb, Jesus instructed his disciples, and us, to keep a simple, but meaningful, annual remembrance—a Memorial—of his death.
Jesus “took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them.” He instructed them to eat it, saying, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Then he took “the cup” of the fruit of the vine, and after giving thanks, instructed them to drink of it as a further remembrance of him, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19,20; Matt. 26:26-28; I Cor. 11:23-25) This is the “Lord’s Supper” of our title. It was not a meal at all, but a simple ceremony instituted by Jesus to be an annual Memorial, or remembrance, of his death, the reality of which would take place in only a matter of hours.
Jesus’ disciples did not yet understand the deep significance of these symbols of the bread and cup. They, in fact, were arguing among themselves as to who would be accounted the greatest in their Master’s kingdom. In our Key Verse, Jesus rebuked them for this selfish attitude, telling them that to have any place in his future kingdom, they would have to become as servants, just as he, their Master, had served them.