7728 - The Last Supper

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In our last study together we reviewed how Peter and John had been sent into Jerusalem to prepare the Passover meal for Jesus and the disciples.

Today we find Jesus and his apostles, at the end of the day, reclining at the table for the meal. Day has faded into evening. At 6:00 p.m. the Jewish Friday began, so Jesus is less than twenty-four hours from the grave.

Listen to Luke 22:14-20:

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 of 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.

Notice that this is an intimate setting of only the twelve with Jesus. Many times as they gathered other disciples were also present with them, but this night is devoted to a final night with those whom he had spent so many hours preparing them for the ministry which, Jesus knew was ahead for them.

Scripture says that the apostles did not know about future events. They did not even comprehend what would unfold in the next twenty-four hours, even though Jesus had on several occasions told them plainly that everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. Jesus would be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. However, on the third day he would rise again (Lk. 18:31-33). But the same passage tells us, “The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about (v34).”

So the heart of Jesus may have been heavy in these hours, knowing all these things; yet being aware that the apostles did not understand. In this passage it seems that Jesus is relishing these few hours they would have together.

Notice it says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Their minds had not yet been opened to understand all these events. Later, after his resurrection, Jesus would open their minds so they could understand these things as well as all the deep truth of Scripture (Lk. 24:45).

Now Luke details how Jesus institutes the memorial of eating bread and drinking wine together in remembrance of Jesus.

Those familiar with the details of the Passover meal see how Jesus was fulfilling those symbolic events of the supper.

First Jesus took the cup and gave thanks to the Father. Then he asked the apostles to take the cup and divide it among them.

In the opening verse the picture is portrayed of the twelve reclining at the table with Jesus. They did not sit upright as we now do to eat, but they reclined with their heads toward the table. To eat they may have rested on one elbow.

So they divided the wine and drank. Jesus remarks that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until the kingdom of God comes.

Then he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, dividing it so they each had some. Then he commended them, “this is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.”

As the supper proceeded Jesus took a second cup of wine, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Now, at this point, we understand the significance of this memorial more fully than they did at that time.

This is the only reference in the gospels where two cups are shared with the apostles.

In our next study we will focus on the betrayer at this meal.