Jesus Institutes Lord's Supper


Matthew 26-17-28; Mark 14:12-21; Luke 22:7-30; 1 Cor. 11-23-26; John 13:21-30



    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 Israel for the first Pass­over on the eve of their departure from the oppression and slavery of Egypt.

    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 1: 29) .

    The population of Jerusalem was great­ly increased by many pilgrims coming from all over Palestine, neighboring countries, and from all over the Mediter­ranean and Mesopotamian worlds. It is thought that the population of Jerusalem normally ranged somewhere between 25,­000 to 30,000. Perhaps up to 125,000 pilgrims crowded into the city for the festival.



    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 1: 30 p.m. 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.



    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 Egypt.

    Late in the afternoon, Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room in Jerusalem. A threefold blast of silver trumpets blown at the temple told the people that the time for the meal had come. A full moon bathed Jerusalem in soft, silvery moonlight.

    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.



    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 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16). 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 1:18-19; 2:24; 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.