STORY SETTING AND BACKGROUND
Jesus Institutes Lord's Supper
Matthew 26-17-28; Mark
14:12-21; Luke 22:7-30; 1 Cor.
The Passover was the first of the three
festivals at which every male 12 years and older, was
to be present. The other 2 were the festivals of Pentecost and of the
Tabernacles. The latter was the harvest festival observed in late September or
early October. Exodus 12 records the
preparation of the children of
The Passover was a festival of remembrance, which reminded the Children of Israel of God's gracious and mighty act in choosing them as His people and setting them free with a mighty hand. The Passover lamb pointed forward to Jpsus, whom God sent in due time to take away the sins of the world (John ) .
For the Jews the new day began at sunset with the appearance of the first three stars of the evening. Thus on Wednesday evening, the head of each house made an elaborate search for any leaven (yeast) or leavened bread. The feast of the Passover was combined with the feast of Unleavened Bread. Only bread made without yeast could be eaten during this time.
Business was brisk in the cattle market near the temple where the lambs for the Passover meal were sold. These had to be at least 8 days and not more than a year old. They had to be perfect in every way.
The sacrificial ceremony for the slaying of the Passover lamb began at All of the 24 courses of priests were on duty so all the lambs could be killed and sacrificed during the afternoon. This was done at three identical sacrifices. Not less than 10 people were to share one Iamb, but often many more were included in the group.
At the beginning of each sacrifice, every Jew with a Iamb killed it at a given signal. The blood was caught in a golden bowl, passed on by a living chain of hands, and poured out at the altar. The animals were skinned and cleaned. The inside fat was taken out and burned on the altar. During all this time, the Levites led in song. At the end the people were dismissed to make way for the next group.
The lamb was roasted on a spit made of pomegranate wood. Great care was taken so that the Iamb would not touch the stove and that no bones were broken. The Iamb had to be roasted on the fire with head, tail, and legs complete, and then served on a large platter.
ELEMENTS OF THE PASSOVER
Aside from the lamb, wine mixed with water, unleavened bread,
bitter herbs (lettuce, endive, succory, beets?, and bitter coriander?) were other important elements. A
sauce was also made from dates, raisins, and ground nuts. This symbolized the
bitter slavery of
Late in the
afternoon, Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room in
According to the writings of the Jewish teachers and scholars, a definite ritual was followed for the Passover meal. Whether this was done at Christ's time is not certain. The later ritual followed this order: the head of the house prayed and gave thanks to God. Then the whole group drank the first cup of wine. Next came the singing of Psalms 113-114, the eating of the bitter herbs, followed by the second cup of wine.
At a question from the youngest present, the head of the house explained the significance of the Passover. The lamb was eaten with unleavened bread, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving, and a third cup. The group sang Psalm 115- 118. A final cup of wine ended the meal. The group usually lingered a while in quiet discussion. Many pilgrims joyfully walked through the moonlit streets to the temple to spend the night in singing and praying.
JESUS AND THE PASSOVER
A quarrel arose among the disciples as to who should have the places of honor next to Jesus. This occasion set the stage for Jesus to teach His disciples a lesson on humility.
After the seating had been settled, Jesus as head of the group spoke the opening prayer, and passed the first cup of wine. Then to teach His disciples a lesson in humility, Jesus washed their feet. In characteristic fashion, Peter protested.
Probably after the explanation of the significance of the Passover and the second cup of wine came the announcement of the betrayal. John seemingly whispered to Judas to tell who the betrayer might be. Jesus softly gave the answer. The sop probably consisted of meat of the lamb, some bitter herbs, wrapped in unleavened bread, and dipped into the bitter sauce.
The third cup was known as "the cup of blessing" or the cup after the supper (Luke ; 1 Corinthians ). It was seemingly at this time that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels and 1 Corinthians 11 :23-26.
Each of the above accounts records this phrase in similar fashion: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood." As the Iamb of God, Jesus was about to be sacrificed once and for all for the sins of mankind. In Jesus the sacrifices of the Old Testament found fulfillment. (John 1 :29; Hebrews 12:24; 1 Peter -19; ; Isaiah 53; Genesis 3:15). Jesus had kept God's holy Law. He was about to make fulI atonement as the sacrifice for man's Sins.
Jeremiah 31 :31-34 speaks of the new covenant which God would make with His people. The sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God made this covenant of grace and forgiveness possible, for Christ's blood was shed for the sins of all people. Thus, all who receive Jesus in faith live in this covenant relationship of grace. They are in fellowship with God as members of His family.