Today we’ve read about a portion of Jesus’ final full day on earth. Thousands of Jews from all over Israel had journeyed to Jerusalem for the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began with the Passover celebration. On that day, every Israelite family would kill a year-old lamb, commemorating the time when the angel of death, who killed all the firstborn in Egypt, passed over their homes on the night of their exodus from Egypt. The Bible refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God because He came to fulfill what every previous Passover lamb prefigured—His substitutionary death for the sins of the world.
Jesus and His disciples had been staying each night in the nearby town of Bethany. On this particular day, Jesus sent Peter and John before Him into Jerusalem to prepare the Passover meal so Jesus and His disciples could eat it together. The instructions Jesus gave them for the preparations were amazing. Just as they entered through a gate in Jerusalem’s wall, they would meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. They should simply follow him to a house he would enter. Then they were to say to the owner of that house, “The Teacher asks, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?'” He would take them to a large upstairs room that was already set up for them.
Apparently, the owner had some prior knowledge that Jesus wanted to use his upper room for a meal with His disciples, but how he knew that, we don’t know. Either Jesus had previously made arrangements with him, or God had somehow informed him. The man, whom Peter and John followed, was on an errand to bring a pitcher of water to the house they needed to find. He wasn’t specifically waiting for Peter and John at the Jerusalem Gate, but just “happened” to be walking there at the same time they entered the city. God had arranged the circumstances so that they were all at the right place at the right time. If He desires, God can slow us down or speed us up to make sure that we’re in the right place at the right time as well. For example, God might arrange for a slowpoke driver to be ahead of your car to help you avoid an accident in which you would otherwise be involved.
Once Jesus and His disciples had gathered for the Passover meal, Jesus made it very clear that it would be the last time He would eat the Passover meal until it came to fulfillment in the Kingdom of God (see Luke 22:16). Either He was speaking of the time of His thousand-year reign on the earth, indicating that He would join people then who would celebrate the Passover in commemoration of His sacrifice, or He was speaking of celebrating the Passover in a spiritual sense with every person who would believe in Him.
Although Luke didn’t record it, as Jesus shared the cup of wine with His disciples, He said, “This is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:28). God couldn’t simply forgive people’s sins by a decree of forgiveness; otherwise He would be compromising His own holiness and justice. As the Creator and moral Judge of all humanity, He must punish all sin. Amazingly, Jesus was willing to suffer our deserved punishment, dying as our substitute. His blood being poured out speaks of His violent and painful death. And like all ancient covenants that were ratified by blood being shed, God has entered into a covenant with us, promising to forgive all our sins. That covenant is ratified by Jesus’ shed blood.
Just as the wine Jesus shared represented His blood, so the bread He broke and shared represented His body. Our eating and drinking what represents His body and blood is symbolic of our becoming one with Him. We’re in Him and He’s in us. Our sins have been paid for in full by the One who now lives in us by His Holy Spirit.
Q. Did Jesus tell us how often we are to share in what is now called Communion or the Lord’s Supper?
A. No, He didn’t. He just said that as often as we do it, we should do it in His remembrance.
Q. Is the Lord’s Supper something we can only celebrate in a church service officiated by an ordained minister?
A. No, not according to the Bible. When Jesus broke bread and drank wine, He did something that was extremely common in His day. People broke and ate bread at practically every meal of their lives. Wine was the most common beverage other than water. For this reason, some Christians believe that every meal we eat can be viewed as Communion, blessed at the beginning, done in Christ’s remembrance and serving as a reminder of our oneness with Him.
Application: The author of Hebrews wrote, “We have become partakers of Christ” (Hebrews 3:14, NASB). One of the greatest truths of the New Testament is that Jesus lives inside of everyone who truly believes in Him. Now Christ in us wants to live through us. Our job is to allow Him to do just that.