Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
In today’s passage we see the Last Supper as we now call and the institution of the sacrament that we now call Communion, or as it is also called the Lord’s Supper. My goal at the end of this is that you will have a better understanding of what the Lord’s Supper or Communion means and most importantly why we Christians celebrate it. So with that being said let’s begin.
When Jesus pronounced, “This is my body” and “This cup is the new covenant,” he did not mean that the bread and wine are a repeating sacrifice. They do not become his actual body and blood and convey justifying grace. The bread and wine symbolize Jesus’ death. The Lord’s Supper is a precious memorial to remind people about Jesus’ sacrificial death. It convey’s sanctifying grace to the Christian who eats and drinks in faith because Jesus is spiritually present as his people fellowship with him and each other.
Now that we understand what the Lord’s Supper is really all about, let’s digging a little deeper into its meaning. The supper that Jesus ate with disciples’, that we just read about, on that Thursday night some two thousand years ago was a Passover meal. But before we can really explore what this means and how it will change the way most of you think about the Lord’s Supper, we need to define two words that will help us better understand what is going on. And the two words we need to define are type and antitype, but we need to define them in a Biblical sense. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines type as, “a figure, representation, or symbol of something to come, as an event in the Old Testament foreshadows another in the New Testament.” Nelson’s defines antitype as “a fulfillment or completion of an earlier truth revealed in the Bible.” And to see the Old Testament foreshadowing of what we celebrate every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are going to turn two passages from Exodus. We are going to turn to Exodus 12:1-28 and 13:1-16.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”
Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.—Exodus 12:1-28
The LORD said to Moses, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”
Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites —the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey —you are to observe this ceremony in this month: For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LORD. Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the LORD is to be on your lips. For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.
“After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD. Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.
“In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”—Exodus 13:1-16
The Passover meal is a type, and the Lord’s Supper is its antitype. The Passover meal was both a sacrifice and a covenant renewal ceremony in which Israel remembered the exodus and the old covenant that God inaugurated with the blood of sacrificial animals. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice but recalls Jesus’ once-for-all time sacrificial death as our Passover lamb; it is a covenant renewal ceremony in which we the church remember Jesus’ new exodus for us, his people, and the new covenant he inaugurated with his bloody death and resurrection. We are remembering that Jesus died our behalf and in our place. So when we the church celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are remembering Jesus’ body and blood because his death inaugurated the new covenant. And the very act of eating and drinking is a way to regularly proclaim the gospel until Jesus returns.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Judges 4-5, Luke 22:35-53, Psalm 94:1-23 and Proverbs 14:3-4
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