Before He was arrested Jesus met with His disciples for an evening of teaching (Jn 13-17) and the observance of the Passover meal. As He served the Passover seder Jesus broke with tradition. As He took certain elements He revealed how they prophetically spoke of Him, and in the process actually initiated a new symbolic meal. As He passed the bread and cup to His disciples He gave them new meaning. From that moment on the bread would remind them of His brutal death on the cross, and the cup would remind them of their entirely new relationship with God. How often He expected them to observe this meal is not mentioned, but the early church apparently took it frequently (Acts 2:42, 46, 1Co 11:20). When they met together they would often share a meal and then at its conclusion would then pass the bread and cup. Now, 2,000 years later we still take part in the same bread and cup. Christians call this meal by different names, Communion, the Lords Supper, the Eucharist. But regardless of the name we use, the bread and cup to still challenge us each time we take them to confess our sins, be assured of Gods forgiveness, walk boldly in Gods promised blessings, and wait expectantly until we see Jesus face to face. Like a wave rolling through time this meal invites each generation to hear the Lords voice say afresh, Remember Me!
A. What did He reveal? (Lk 22:7-20)
vs. 17, 18 - Well do this again some day
vs. 19 - The afikomen was broken and shared by everyone before the third cup of wine was passed. I am the Passover Lamb who will be offered up for your redemption from eternal death
v. 20 - The third of four successive cups is called by two names: the cup of blessing and the cup of redemption. It was called the cup of blessing because it came after the conclusion prayer of thanksgiving and blessing to God for the food that had been eaten, for deliverance from Egypt, for the law of Moses, for His covenant with Israel, and for Gods mercy. It is also called the cup of redemption because it symbolizes the blood of the Passover Lamb. In passing this cup Jesus was explaining that His death would replace the blood of sacrificial animals. His cross becomes the new means of finding release from the bondage of sin.
B. What did He initiate?
He was announcing the formation of a new covenant. In going to the cross He would take our place so that the curse released by failing to keep the old covenant would fall on Him. Amazingly He would suffer the punishment for our collective sin (Ex 24:3-8; Dt 28:15-68). It would be His blood shed instead of ours. He would die instead of us. From that moment on those who would cling to His death by faith would enter a new covenant with God in which they would stand blameless and therefore blessed.
C. What do we remember?
Every time we take communion we recall to mind the person of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. In effect we take hold of the new covenant and its blessings afresh and we remember:
His sacrifice and advocacy: the forgiveness of sins (He 10:10; 1Jn 1:8-2:2)
His gift: the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (He 10:15; Jn 14:16, 17)
His privilege: unhindered access to the Father in prayer and worship (He 10:19-22).
His promise: the resurrection and eternal life (He 12:22-24; Jn 6:40)
His banquet: the marriage supper of the Lamb (Lk 22:18; He 9:28; Rev 19:6-9).
1. Reflect on what goes through your mind when you take the bread and cup. Share with us how this experience affects you.
2. Does repeatedly taking communion make it so familiar it loses its impact on your heart or does it seem to have a timeless quality? If it has a timeless quality tell us why?