We remember the Last Supper every time we participate in communion at church. I'm teaching Luke 22:14-20 to the children at church this Sunday. As I've been reading it and preparing, I'm blown away by the amount of meaning packed into this event. As Jesus shares this meal with His disciples, we can actually see the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Its amazing how much is going on in these verses.
Jesus takes the bread, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples to eat. But look closer, that's not all that's going on here! This is unleavened bread. Leaven is used throughout the Bible to represent sin and unleavened bread symbolizes purity and the state of being sinless. In addition, the Passover meal itself remembers the Exodus out of Egypt. Speaking of bread in this context should recall images of the manna or bread from heaven that God provided to feed the Israelites in the desert. Jesus says that this bread represents His body. Do you see all of the imagery weaving together? Jesus is the manna from heaven sent by God to provide for His people. Jesus is sinless and pure. Jesus' very body will be broken to provide sustenance and life for us.
Next Jesus takes the cup of wine and declares that it represents His blood poured out for us in a new covenant. Wine is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to times of overflowing joy. Blood is used all throughout the Old Testament as the way to atone for and purify sin. Under the Old Covenant, the priests would sacrifice animals and use their blood to forgive sin. With this cup, Jesus has started a New Covenant. Jesus' blood brings us overflowing joy because it pays for our sins and purifies us from sin.
But the most amazing part of this whole thing to me requires us to look at the context of the Last Supper. I mentioned earlier that Jesus and His disciples were celebrating the Passover with this meal. What was that all about? Think of Egypt and the Ten Plagues and Moses saying, "Let my people go." The Pharaoh had the Israelites enslaved. Plague after plague was sent by God to convince Pharaoh to free the people but Pharaoh would not budge. Finally, God sent the tenth and final plague. The angel of death would come down on Egypt and slay every first born son in every household. It was a terrifying night. There was only one way to be safe from God's wrath. You must kill a lamb and spread its blood over your door. Anyone in a home covered by the blood would be spared. The angel of death came and passed over the homes covered by blood, but he spared no others. The Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, lost his own son that night. With a broken heart, he let the people of God go.
The Passover is the holiday that the Jews used to remember the freeing of God's people from slavery by the mighty hand of God through the slaying of the first born sons, primarily the son of the great king Pharaoh. God's wrath passed over those who were covered by the blood of the lamb. Do you see the imagery all coming together? Jesus takes the Passover meal and gives it even deeper meaning. Now, we celebrate it together and we remember the freeing of God's people from more than just slavery, from sin and death itself by the mighty hand of God through the slaying of His own Son. God's wrath will come down on all and the only ones who will be spared are those who are covered by the blood of the Lamb.
I find it amazing that the Bible is so intricately woven together. Even though it had over forty different human authors and was written over the course of thousands of years in three different languages, it undeniably tells one message. I hope this gives you a bit of excitement as you recognize God's amazing plan coming together. Think about the depth of all of this the next time you participate in communion.