14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.
19 And he took bread, and when he had given 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.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
Our heavenly Father,
We come before you to again worship your great name.
We praise you for your majesty over your creation and your sovereignty over our world.
Lord, we thank you for your Son who has come into our world to bring salvation.
Lord, we pray that you would bless our time in your word, and Lord, we pray that you would use this study from your Word to prepare our hearts and minds for communion in which we will soon partake.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
We’re talking about communion today and we’ll be doing communion in just a bit.
I love this quote from Lee Eclov who’s a retired pastor in the Chicago area. I had him as a professor for a class at Trinity. “The table of the Lord isn’t where sinners find Christ but where sinners celebrate being found.”
In our section this morning, Jesus institutes The Lord’s Supper, also known as communion, also known as the Eucharist with his disciples.
These are all referring to the same thing.
The Lord’s Supper is one of two ordinances that this church observes. The other being baptism. We call them ordinances because they are ordained in scripture.
And as we begin our exploration of this topic, I begin with a question.
Why do we do this?
Now obviously we could say, “because Jesus told us to.” And that’s true. And that’s the reason why we as Christians should do it. But why did he command it? Have you ever thought about that?
About six times a year, we take a small piece of bread. You might think it’s a cracker, it’s actually unleavened bread. And we take a little bit of grape juice.
Why did Jesus tell us to do that?
The reason why we do the Lord’s Supper and why we’re commanded to do the Lord’s Supper did not come from nowhere.
And so before we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we’re going to talk about its significance: past, present, and future.
And this first section is background to our main text this morning.
In the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, the Israelites had been enslaved by the Egyptians. Pharaoh would not release the Israelites. And God struck Egypt with a series of plagues: water turned to blood, locusts, hail, darkness.
But after all of these plagues, the Egyptians still had not relented in letting the Israelites go.
And so God brings one final plague. He strikes dead the firstborn of all of the Egyptians.
This is the background for the Old Testament holiday called Passover. We see the instructions given in Exodus 12.
At the first Passover, each Israelite, that is to say each Jewish household was to select a lamb. If a family was too small or if they couldn’t afford a lamb, they would pair up. But it was household to household. And there was a sacrifice of a lamb that was necessary. They’d sacrifice the lamb and they would take some of the lamb’s blood and put it on the outside of their home.
This was an act of faith. Trusting that the deliverance would come from the Lord as he had promised.
Passover could not be more appropriate of a name for this holiday. Because on this first Passover, the faithful to the Lord were passed over, and their lives were spared.
In the Old Testament, the key event was God redeeming the Israelites from Egypt. It is constantly referenced throughout the rest of the Old Testament. It is constantly pointed to show God’s goodness, faithfulness, and grace to His people.
And so the Passover was meant to be an annual celebration. There would be a feast to remember this event. It was held in the springtime.
Exodus 12:8 gives some of the instructions for this meal. They would eat the meat of the lamb they had sacrificed.
8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Notice that it also gives instructions that they would also eat unleavened bread.
The instructions of Passover aim at speed. Unleavened bread is bread without a leavening agent, such as yeast, which causes the bread to rise. But the rising of the bread takes time, and so it was to be done in the fastest way, and thus, unleavened bread.
And so these elements remained part of this annual feast. Over time, the Passover meal was expanded. You would still eat the lamb, the bitter herbs, unleavened bread. There was wine that was part of the feast. Actually four glasses of wine.
And that brings us to our second section. The Lord’s Supper present. And the present way we celebrate it is based on the way in which Jesus instituted it.
14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
And as Jesus sat around with the disciples, it was this same Passover meal, also called a Seder.
And that’s where they sat with Jesus.
17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.
I mentioned there was more than one cup of wine at the dinner. Culturally, the second cup was the point of the meal when the story of the Passover was retold.
The disciples were all Jewish. They had all grown up going to the Passover Seder. Year after year, hearing the story of the Exodus. Of God redeeming his people from slavery. But at this Passover, they sit with the Lord. And the significance of this Passover isn’t about being redeemed from physical slavery, but redeemed from Spiritual slavery, redeemed from the penalty of sin.
It’s interesting that it was not part of tradition for everyone to share the same cup. But that’s what Jesus did.
But in doing that, it stresses solidarity and unity.
And they pass the cup around. Jesus is still yet to institute the Lord’s Supper. This cup is before that, and this part of the story is only recorded in Luke’s gospel.
In verse 19, we come to Jesus giving the words of institution:
19 And he took bread, and when he had given 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.”
At the Passover Seder. All about remembering what God had done for His people.
And Jesus takes that familiar unleavened bread. And he breaks it. Unleavened bread is brittle, it’s not like a loaf of bread that you could pull apart. It cracks, you break it apart.
“This is my body, which is given for you.”
Bread. Something so simple, so universal. Something needed for physical nourishment.
As we discussed in a previous sermon, Jesus had taught during his ministry that it was he who was the bread of life.
20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Again, the wine has been part of this meal for generations.
But Jesus shows it its true meaning.
This cup is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
There had been an old covenant.
But Jesus says that the cup is poured out is the New Covenant.
After the first Passover, after the Lord had delivered the Israelites from Egypt, God made a covenant with the Israelites. That is the Mosaic Covenant, or also referred to as the Old Covenant.
That covenant was found in Exodus chapters 19-24.
Part of that includes the Ten Commandments. That’s the basis for the Law of the Old Testament. God’s moral expectations for His people to follow.
We obviously don’t have time to cover all of that this morning, but a few important things to highlight.
In Exodus 24, the covenant was ratified.
The Old Covenant.
Part of that covenant also involved a sacrifice.
Exodus 24 we see the sacrifice, but I want to focus on what was done with the blood.
6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.
But then in verse 8, we see what Moses did with the remainder of the blood.
8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Consider that for just a moment.
Moses took the blood and threw it on the people.
You don’t really throw blood. It’s a liquid. More appropriately, Moses sprinkled the blood on the people.
But think about that for a moment.
The Old Covenant. Blood is literally sprinkled on the people.
The Israelites are in the desert. Water is not plentiful.
It’s not like they’re going to take their clothes to a laundromat. They don’t have washing machines. You also didn’t own multiple outfits. You pretty much were wearing what you had.
Washing clothes was difficult. So blood sprinkled on their clothes would have set in. Even if it was just drops of blood.
Think about that.
So the clothes they wore when Moses did this would have had drops of the blood from the animal that was sacrificed for them.
A constant reminder of the covenant they had made with the Lord after the Lord had redeemed them.
Just a little bit later on, at the end of Exodus 24:11, it says of Moses and the Israelite elders:
they beheld God, and ate and drank.
They had a meal!
They had. a meal.
Feel like we see meals other places.
So at the Lord’s Supper:
20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
The blood of Christ, poured out for the New Covenant.
Now that’s a reference to Jeremiah 31:
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
Pointing forward to the New Covenant.
32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.
The Israelites had broken the Law. And here we see that the Lord will write the Law on our hearts in his New Covenant. This is referring to the Holy Spirit.
And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
This new covenant replaces the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic covenant revolved around land and keeping the law to maintain the land. And the people failed at this.
But Jesus brings a greater covenant. And at the Last Supper, when he sat with his apostles, he was telling them that the time of this new covenant, prophesied in Jeremiah 31, was being ushered in.
We have a good God.
That’s the Lord’s Supper.
A sign of the New Covenant that the Lord Jesus came into the world to bring.
The Lord’s Supper is important.
Honestly I think too many Protestant churches approach it more as a chore that they have to do than something good that they get to participate in.
We are participating in something that Jesus Himself instituted and that Christians have done for almost 2,000 years. It unites us within the church and to history. And most importantly, it is a call to remember the gospel.
The bread and the drink are both things we physically ingest. You really eat the bread. You really drink the juice. Symbols that point us to the real body and real blood of Christ that were broken and shed for our sins. Jesus is as real as the bread and the juice.
They are physical symbols to remind us of a reality. Symbols are important. A wedding ring is just a ring. But it represents the commitment of marriage. The American flag is some cloth, by itself. But there’s a set of values it represents. We associate roses with love. Symbolism pervades literature and art. We do things in life for symbolic reasons. We commemorate certain days, we establish family traditions.
And when we take the Lord’s Supper, it’s a reminder of the gospel.
Christ’s body, broken for us. For your sins. And mine. His blood shed.
Like the ancient Israelites who Moses sprinkled blood on, those drops of blood in their clothes, a reminder of the covenant that God had made with His people.
The Lord’s Supper. A continual reminder and remembrance of what Jesus has done for us.
We can never spend too much time reflecting on the gospel. What Jesus has done for us. There was a cost for sin. And Jesus paid that for all who trust in Him.
We practice open communion.
Where anyone who trusts in Jesus as Lord and savior is welcomed to partake.
III. The third point of our passage is the Lord’s Supper future.
In our passage in Luke, Jesus is pointing forward.
“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
At that meal, Jesus said “I will not eat UNTIL it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
He’s referring to the end times.
He references this again in our passage.
For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
The Lord’s Supper. Past, present, and future.
In the past, it was something that pointed to God’s miracle of redeeming Israel. Now it points us to the gospel and what Christ has done for us. But it points still to the future and to our hope. Because Jesus has died to redeem us but he has also promised us eternity.
The Book of Revelation depicts a great feast at the end of times.
In the opening chapters of the book of Revelation, Jesus has been active with His churches. In Revelation 4, The Apostle John is given a vision of the throne room of heaven. This wondrous site to behold, but Jesus is absent until we get to chapter 5. And John sees a lamb standing, as though it had been slain. The lamb had been slain, but he has risen.
And because the lamb of God that was slain for the sins of man has died and risen, that is our hope that we can stand before God in the throne room of heaven. In Revelation 19, there is a vision of the great wedding feast, and who is the groom?
Again it is the lamb.
At the first Passover, a lamb was slain.
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, it was on the night before his own crucifixion where he would serve as the lamb who was slain.
But it points forward still to the wedding feast that the lamb hosts. Jesus is the lamb. He is the Lord of the great feast.
Jesus sacrificed himself so we could be with him.
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
And we are all invited to that feast.
Past, present, and future. It’s interesting to think about the Passover Feast. That was something done with your family. And then Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper. And that is something we do with our church family. But still it points forward to the ultimate feast when we will partake with the entire family of believers.