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Is the Lord’s Supper the Passover Meal?

Part 1 Communion and the Last Supper:

How did Jesus introduce the concept of Communion?

In John’s gospel the setting was an “evening meal” [1]

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke it was at a Passover meal with his followers:

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” [2]

Pascal lamb

Pascal lamb

Presumably, because Jesus as a man, lived His life in obedience to the Law, He and his disciples would have visited the Temple that afternoon to slaughter their Passover sacrifice.
Then later that evening, they would have consumed it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, as required by the Book of Exodus.

That may be difficult for us to accept that, but think back to when Jesus wanted John to baptize Him and John didn’t want to do that because the people were confessing their sins and were being baptized [3], so why should Jesus get baptized? Well, Jesus said:

“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. [4]

Jesus knew that He was going to finish the meal in a different way, but He did want to eat the Passover with his disciples.
In initiating the Passover Meal, God wanted certain things in this meal to point to the Jews leaving Egypt, but also, and more importantly, to point directly to Jesus.
The Passover Meal is full of symbolism, which we will look at shortly.

The history of the Passover meal and the Jewish Seder Meal:

Passover was started 3200 years ago, when the Israelites left their slavery in Egypt.
From then until 70AD (about 40 years after Jesus was crucified), the Passover meal was informal:

  • Each head of a family would in his own words explain the four Biblical rituals:
  • the eating of the paschal lamb
  • the bitter herbs
  • the eating of matzah which is unleavened bread
  • and telling the story of the escape from Egypt.

After the destruction of the temple in 70AD the Jews were unable to sacrifice the Pascal lambs.
The Passover meal became more formalized and it became the Passover Seder Meal.
There is an order to the Seder meal and ‘Seder’ actually means “order”.
On the table they had a lambs bone instead of the Pascal lamb.

Jesus’ disciples prepared for the Passover Meal:

Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” [5]

Fingers in the food mixing bowl

Fingers in the food mixing bowl!

We may think of setting up a table and chairs and preparing a meal, but these preparations were very important and were mainly about getting rid of all yeast.
It was a deep clean – like in hospitals to remove all germs.
There mustn’t be a single crumb lying around.
A crumb of bread would contain yeast and yeast makes the bread rise.
It is a symbol of sin, it puffs up.

Jesus at this Passover Meal held up the unleavened bread and said:

“This is my body given for you.” [6]

He was saying in effect that he had no yeast, no sin.
He is sinless, pure, he had not failed in one thought, action, or word, because he is the spotless Pascal Lamb (the Passover Lamb).

 

Continued:
The Passover Meal and Communion? Part 2

Here is the complete series:

References:
[1] John 13:2
[2] Luke 22:15
[3] Matthew 3:6
[4] Matthew 3:15
[5] Luke 22:8
[6] Luke 22:19

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