Observing the Last Supper

KEY VERSE: “He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body.” —Luke 22:19

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Luke 22:1, 2, 7-20

WE BELIEVE that it was incumbent upon Jesus to observe in minute detail the instructions of the Jewish Law. In Leviticus 23:5,6 we read, “The fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.” It is important also that we understand the Jewish method of keeping time, which was used all down through the Jewish Age and was still in use in our Lord’s day; that is, the day started at sundown and ended twenty-four hours later at the next sundown. With this background in mind, we know that when Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover, it was sometime on the thirteenth of Nisan, for the preparations had to be completed by sundown on the thirteenth, just before the beginning of the fourteenth of Nisan. After the sun went down, marking the beginning of the fourteenth of Nisan, Jesus and his disciples gathered in the upper room. The paschal lamb would have been slain and prepared for roasting, for the Passover supper would have to be completed before midnight.—Exod. 11:4; 12:1-12,31

During the short ministry of Jesus, he, as an obedient Jew under the Law, celebrated three Passover feasts before the last that marked the end of his ministry. Those previous Passovers must have been periods of deep reflection, meditation and prayer for our Lord, which sharpened his anticipation for the last one that would mark the fulfillment of the type of the Passover. In the Luke account, Jesus said to his disciples, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15,16) Because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to the disciples, Jesus knew that much of what he said to them that evening would not be understood. But he looked forward to the time when the Holy Spirit would give them understanding, and with it some appreciation of the wonderful sacrifice being offered on their behalf. Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, … [which] the Father will send in my name, … [it] shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) And again in John 16:12,13, we read, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he [it], the Spirit of truth, is come, … [it] will guide you into all truth: for … [it] shall not speak of … [itself]; but whatsoever … [it] shall hear, that shall … [it] speak; and … [it] will shew you things to come.”

The Memorial Supper instituted by Jesus at the conclusion of that final Passover supper was in essence a memorial of the fulfillment of the type. The Passover lamb was accounted as slain, and the purpose of Jesus was to demonstrate to the disciples the benefits of that sacrifice to them and to all of the anti-typical firstborns of the Gospel Age. The account states, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body.” (Matt. 26:26) The primary significance of the bread is that his life as a perfect man was surrendered as a corresponding price for Adam, who was perfect when he sinned, and because of this, the world of mankind will have an opportunity for life in the kingdom. There is a correlative meaning to the bread as far as the footstep followers of Jesus are concerned in that, by partaking, it pictures their justification for the purpose of becoming associated with Jesus in sacrifice during the Gospel Age.

After Jesus gave them the unleavened bread, “He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it [or drink all of you out of it—Diaglott] for this is my blood of the New Testament [Covenant] which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26:27,28) The cup represented the perfect life poured out. Because of his faithfulness, the blood of Jesus will become the blood of the New Covenant by which the world of mankind will have forgiveness of sins and an opportunity for life. The footstep followers of Jesus, by partaking of these emblems, are pictured as having an opportunity to share in his sufferings and be partners in sacrifice.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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