Our Lord instituted the Supper the evening that Judas had betrayed Him. Judas had left the Passover supper before Jesus instituted it. I will be using the record of Matthew 26 which reads:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom (vs 26-29),
as well as Mark 14:22-25. These are parallel with Luke 22 also.
The supper is never going to be completely understood or remembered without the background of the Passover record in Exodus 12 and 13. However, the Passover and the Lord’s supper are not the same. The Passover was first, then the supper. In fact, the first mention of leaven in the Bible is in Exodus 12:15 and this becomes very useful to us in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper in the 21st century.
The children of Israel were ordered to not have any leaven in the house (cf. Ex. 12:15). It was called the feast of “unleavened bread” in verse 17. That was the very night (1500 years later) that our Lord, with the apostles, instituted the supper. Due to the Law of Moses, which Jesus kept, there could have been no other bread available to them other than unleavened. Leaven was to be out of the house and nowhere around and if it was that person was to be cut off from Israel. There is significance in the fact that they were to have no leaven in their house during the days of unleavened bread. This signified that they had put all evil out of their houses. That is the significance of the leaven. Leavened bread denoted corruption and impurity. Every time Israel failed to realize the importance of the day of Passover, they lost their way. Every time they came back there was the instituting of these days of unleavened bread all over again.
Next, the blood had to be applied. Paul wrote, “…For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). He became our paschal Lamb and that to take away the sins of the world, but the blood must be applied to our souls through being baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins (cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:4). If the blood was not applied to their door posts, their first born would die, as did the first born throughout Egypt. The blood was applied to the door lentel and the family was saved. Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we need to remember that Christ is our Passover. We face spiritual death and through the Cross of Christ this can be avoided.
I would like to say something about Judas who betrayed Christ (cf. Mark 14:20,21). Sometime, when you have time, study the chapters in the Old Testament that prophesy the betrayal of Christ. That is Psalms 69 and 109. Peter quotes from these in Acts 1. I had a problem understanding some things about Judas until I went back and studied those chapters. Judas belonged to a class of people. Judas was never mentioned by name in the Old Testament, but rather it was a class of people. Judas by choice allowed himself to belong to that kind of people that would betray Christ.
Let us look at something that can help in understanding the Bible. Jesus took bread and “blessed it and brake it.” If we are not careful, we will read into this something that is not really there. He took the cup and gave thanks. This is exactly what “blessed” means. We need to learn to give thanks for the loaf and the fruit of the vine. That is what we learn. Years ago, I learned a lesson about this that has helped me through the years. When we are at the table let us give thanks for the loaf and the fruit of the vine. This is not to be a general prayer. Jesus had one thing in His mind at this point in time. This is not a time to pray for all the sick, and invoke God’s blessings on all of us or be thankful for the day and all its blessings. Let us be specific. Jesus knew that He soon would be facing death. In view of this He still gave thanks. This tells us something about His life and the ordeal that He was to go through.
“And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:24,25). This shows that there would be a spiritual communion beginning at Pentecost between Christ and the people. In 1 Cor. 10: 16, 17 the statement that the cup is the communion of the blood of Christ. This is what He is talking about. Hence, among other things, it denotes fellowship with Christ, God, and one another. We need to realize the meaning of those days of putting leaven out of their house, was a time to examine their own hearts to see if there was any evil that needed to be put out of their lives. It would have changed their hearts. The bread that we partake of on Sunday is that same type of bread. It is not by accident that He took unleavened bread and instituted the Lord’s Supper. This means that every time that I am about to partake of the unleavened bread there is a time that I need to make sure that I have put all the evil out of my life. Are there things in my life that ought not to be there? I need to examine my life before I even leave home. If there is something that ought not to be there, we need to ask the Lord to take that from us as we repent. Let us not forget that this bread was to show the putting away of evil and impurities. The blood of Christ recognized the doing away of the Jewish system and the beginning of a new era.
When Are we to Partake?
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…..” (Acts 20:7). There is an unmistakable allusion to the practice, which began evidently immediately after the resurrection of our Lord, of assembling on the first day of the week for religious purposes. This also shows that the Lord arose on the first day of the week, showed himself to the apostles a second time one week later on the first day of the week, that the church was founded and the Holy Spirit shed forth on Pentecost, which was on the first day of the week. On the same day the disciples at Troas meet to break bread, the Corinthians meet, take collections (1 Cor. 16:2). Every week has a first day so every Lord’s Day Christians are to assemble to partake of the supper. From this we derive a spiritual benefit of partaking with our Lord on these occasions. There is no other day that is scriptural—has divine authority.
Examinations Must Take Place
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1 Cor. 11:27-29).
In one sense there is no one worthy to partake of the supper and could not except by the grace and mercy of God. We must come with a pure heart as much as in us is possible. Moreover, the Supper is to be partaken of in remembrance of our Saviour (cf. 1 Cor. 11:24-25).
Here are some things for us to remember in observing the Lord’s Supper. It commemorates Cavalry. What do I mean by this? The atonement—how that Christ died for our sins! It means that through what took place on Calvary we are made as one with God, reconciled with God and made friends with God because sin alienates. Being one with God we are made one with another. A recognition that without Calvary I am lost. It is a communion. This has to do with a common sharing. This means fellowship or partakers with. Paul said in chapter 10 that we are partakers of this one body. It is a common sharing that we have in Christ and this tells us that we are united. Why then in Corinth could there be division? It is a reminder of a new covenant. Notice that Christ said, “this cup is the New Testament in my blood.” It tells us that the Law of Moses has been abolished. The word new comes from a Greek word that means “new in kind and quality.” It is a covenant of kind and quality that was dedicated by a better blood. Moses’ law was dedicated by the blood of animals, but not this covenant. It demands concentration. Let a man examine himself. The mind is to concentrate on what this is about. Why examine self? What about my attitudes? Have I been guilty of causing division? How have I lived? Have I lived a penitent life? Do I keep my mind on what all this is about? If the Corinthians had concentrated on what the Lord’s Supper was all about, they would not have had the division. It is reminder of care one for another. The Lord’s Supper tells us of God and Christ’s love for us. While telling us this, it is a reminder that we are to love one another like Deity loved us. This means care for! How could they ignore the poor if they had understood that the Lord’s Supper was a reminder that God cares and as such we ought to care. We must not ignore the fact that there is a benevolent attitude in it.
Contention, which is division, is to be avoided. When we partake of the Supper we ought to ask, “Am I contentious and have a divisive spirit?” If so then I need to repent of that. We cannot be contentious and divisive and partake of the Supper with God’s approval. We would not have factions if we realized that we are all one and we cannot be contentious and be one in Christ. We cannot eat and drink worthily with this kind of spirit. I must examine my heart. We have a common aim and common goal.
Our very being around the Lord’s Table should suggest that we are all living for the same purpose—a common cause. We are committed to the Lord and all that the Table signifies. Do we think that we have hand in hand and heart in heart that we are all working for a common cause? There is the common expectation that He is coming again. To partake of the Supper is to say that I believe with all my heart that He is coming back. All these things are involved partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It is not just a ritual that we go through—it has meaning and purpose.