LEST WE FORGET
Lord, give me the proper estimation of the Lord’s Supper.
Read MATTHEW 26:17–30
The Last Supper
17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The method of carrying out of the Lord’s Supper has divided Christianity far more than united it. Next time you partake, focus on what Messiah Jesus has done for you personally.
Matthew does not hide the fact that Jesus’ betrayal is inseparable from the first Lord’s Supper, Christianity’s most solemn sacrament. The Lord’s Supper has already absorbed the rich symbolism of the Passover: its re-enactment of sacrifice and salvation, the liberating act by which God created his covenant people. Jesus adds significant new dimensions that would ever after recall his suffering and our deliverance: the bread reminding us of his body, given up to pain and death; the wine signifying the new covenant of salvation between God and humankind. Jesus has eaten countless meals with his disciples but none with this level of significance. It demanded careful preparation, a ceremonial meal in which participants could link themselves with Christ and each other in a ritual which looks both backwards and forwards. Today, liturgical churches appropriately stress careful liturgy and symbolic detail.
The common terminology in every account of the Last Supper consists of four verbs: Jesus took, blessed or thanked, broke and gave. We should do no less; but neither should we do much more and risk losing the sacrament’s powerful simplicity in an unduly complex ritual. The accounts vary in their choice of the words bless or thank. Here the church must be careful. It is not the bread which is blessed, but God. Jesus uses the traditional Jewish benediction: “Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” None of us has the power to make of bread something which God has not already created, but we do have the power to imbue it with deep meaning, to take it reverently into our bodies, and by faith regard it as the memorial of what Jesus has done for us, the token of God’s real presence with us, and the foretaste of what we are to become.
Reflect on these words from the Book of Common Prayer: “Grant us… gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.”
Lord, Your people are ever cognizant of what You have accomplished for us through Your death, and we gratefully commemorate it, as You have commanded.