Bible Reading: Luke 22.14-23
Now when the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles joined him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. “But look, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man is to go just as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this. Luke 22.14-23
It is Thursday of Holy Week and Jesus along with His disciples have gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem to eat the Passover meal. It was a meal that was eaten every year by Jews to remember God’s deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12), where the Israelites were instructed to slaughter a spotless lamb and put its blood above their doorposts. When God came in judgment on the homes of the Israelites and Egyptians, He would put to death the firstborn son in any home that did not have blood over the doorpost. God provided the blood of a lamb, a substitute sacrifice, to save His people, but there was much wailing in Egyptian families that night. God’s people would celebrate this meal every year, taking lambs to be slaughtered. The Israelites would gather together in their homes and remember the original Passover night in Egypt.
It is at this Passover meal that Jesus uses the words, this is My body, which would have had no place in the Passover meal, so these words are stunning as Jesus gives a new interpretation in terms of a new and greater deliverance. Now we must know that the understanding of this for the disciples is not there as of yet, but it will be gained after Jesus’ resurrection. So, He tells them to eat the bread and then to drink of the cup. The bread was a representative remembrance to Jesus’ body, which would bear the sin of the world. Likewise, the cup represents Jesus’ blood to remember His blood that He would shed for redemption.
During this meal the head of the house began the meal with the thanksgiving for that day and for the wine and he would pray over the first of the four cups that would mark the feast. Then a second cup of wine would introduce the main dish, then a third cup would follow which was known as the cup of blessing, which would be accompanied by a prayer of thanksgiving. Then the participants would drink a fourth cup of wine. It seems likely that when Jesus says drink of “this cup” that it would have been the third cup out of the four, which is the cup of blessing in the Passover meal and he gave “thanks” and this is the term eucharisteo in the Greek, which is a term that some use for the communion meal, so it simply means, “to give thanks”. The eating of the Passover meal identified the Israelite with the redemption from Egypt and now this eating and drinking convey the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice to those who share the table, who have true fellowship with Him by faith.
So, may we give thanks for Jesus who is our Passover lamb who saves us with His blood and may we look forward with hope as we will eat this meal with Him in the coming Kingdom.
Memory Verse: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14.6