And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. — Mark 14:22
It may have been the world’s smallest serving of the Lord’s Supper, and the location was unusual. However, God’s Spirit was so close as our pastor and his wife came to the nursing home to lend our family spiritual and moral support while my mother’s life was ebbing away.
Days earlier, Mother had mentioned taking the Lord’s Supper, but now she had not taken food or drink for several days. We could only caress her lips with chipped ice on a cloth. Was it too late for her to partake of communion one last time before she stepped into Heaven? We decided to try. When I asked the pastor if he would serve the emblems if I could locate them there in the nursing home, he agreed. Then I asked Mother if she would still like to observe this ordinance. Her response was an eager smile.
The nurse was happy to assist us with a small saucer containing a pea-sized piece of plain cracker and a tiny amount of fresh grape juice, from which we lifted about an eighth of a teaspoon. Our pastor read the directives from Scripture and prayed over the emblems. I was privileged to place them between my mother’s lips, and she did not choke at all. How the presence of the Lord filled the room! As our pastor led in some hymns, he included one of her favorites. In a very weak voice, she sang a few measures, but was soon out of breath. We actually thought she had fallen asleep until we looked toward her feet and noticed her big toe keeping accurate time until the last note.
The peace and God’s presence in my mother’s final days were a result of her relationship with Jesus Christ. She understood why, during some of His last hours on earth, Jesus had instituted a new memorial which gave bread and wine, the common elements of every Passover meal, a new significance. Our deliverance from sin and salvation are made possible by the shed Blood and broken body of Jesus. Remembrance means “a present participation in a past event,” and Jesus established the Lord’s Supper as a reminder to His followers. How blessed we are when we avail ourselves of His salvation!
Keeping the Passover was not new to Jesus and His disciples. His instructions regarding these plans illustrate His omniscience. He knew in advance that the disciples would meet a man bearing a pitcher. (Women of that day carried water in pitchers. Men seldom carried water, but if they did, they used waterskins, so the man carrying a pitcher would be very noticeable.) Jesus also knew who would betray Him following the Last Supper and His institution of the sacrament known today as communion or the “Lord’s Supper.”
Lambs for Passover were killed in the Temple on Thursday afternoon, and the Passover meal took place between sunset (6:00 p.m.) and midnight. Preparation included roasting the lamb and gathering unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and other symbolic food and drink.
As Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus made it plain that His life was ending. He predicted His betrayal by “one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.” The sauce was served in a common dish that was handed from one person to the next, and unleavened bread or bitter herbs were dipped in it. Jesus indicated He would be betrayed by one who had close fellowship with Him, which fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 41:9. Jesus’ words kept Judas’ motives from the other disciples. Had Judas repented of his plans and asked Jesus for forgiveness, he would have been restored and would not have been shamed before his fellow disciples. But Judas chose to continue with his plans.
During the traditional meal, Jesus instituted a new memorial. The word “for” in the phrase “shed for many” (verse 24) means “in behalf of” and specifies a substitutionary death. Jesus attached a new significance to the common elements of bread and wine. From then on, they would serve as a memorial of His death. These elements were not miraculously converted to something different. They emphasized that the Blood of God’s Son would be shed and that His body would literally be broken to bring salvation to all who would come to Him in faith and repentance. This was a “new testament” (new covenant) between God and men. Instead of obtaining forgiveness by offering an animal, people could pray for Jesus’ shed Blood to take away their sins.
Songs known as Hallel Psalms were traditionally sung at Passover. The closing song was probably parts of Psalms 115-118. After Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room for the Mount of Olives, Jesus said they would all “be offended,” or fall away, from Him. Peter was adamant that he would not, but Jesus said before the rooster crowed, Peter would deny Him three times. Although Peter was the most outspoken, the other disciples also pledged their allegiance (verse 31).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VII. The Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Son of God
D. The Passover and supper (14:12-31)
1. The preparation for the Passover (14:12-16)
2. The participation in the Passover and prediction of betrayal (14:17-21)
3. The institution of the Lord’s Supper (14:22-26)
4. The prediction of denial (14:27-31)
We will be blessed by remembering the Lord’s death until He comes again. Observing the Lord’s Supper is a wonderful way to do so.