The Last Supper - The One Year Christian History

The Last Supper

It was the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

ON April 2, A.D. 33, Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare the Passover meal for him to eat with his disciples (Luke 22:7-13).

At the Last Supper Jesus instituted the New Covenant, replacing the Old Covenant of Mount Sinai. At the institution of the Old Covenant, Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel had gone up to the top of Mount Sinai, where they saw God and shared a meal in God’s presence (Exodus 24:9-11). Which person of the Trinity did they see and eat with? It was God the Son whose role is to represent the Godhead visibly to humanity (John 1:18). Thus, the Old Covenant was instituted at a meal between God the Son and the elders of Israel. The New Covenant was instituted in the upper room at a meal between God the Son and the disciples, the elders of the church (cf. 1 Peter 5:1; 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1).

At the Last Supper when Jesus said, “This is my blood, which seals the covenant” (Matthew 26:28), the words (except for my) were identical to the Greek Septuagint translation of Moses’ words at the institution of the Old Covenant (Exodus 24:8). Clearly Jesus was instituting a New Covenant to replace the Old Covenant.

Bible covenants were treaties between God and his people. Thus, it is significant that Jesus said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you—an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you” (Luke 22:20). Since the time of Homer, nations poured out a cup of wine to seal treaties. This ritual was so central to treaty making, the Greek word for “libation” became the word for “treaty.” Thus, Jesus used this contemporary treaty symbolism to make sure that everyone understood that he was instituting a New Covenant, or treaty, with his people.

Since the Old Covenant contained commandments, one would expect that the New Covenant would contain a new commandment. Thus, at the Last Supper Jesus says, “Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).

After Jesus had identified Judas Iscariot as the one who would betray him and Simon Peter as the one who would deny him (John 13:18-38), he led the disciples across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1; Matthew 26:36).

In the garden Jesus prayed while the disciples slept (Matthew 26:36-45). Then Judas Iscariot led Roman soldiers to the garden to arrest Jesus. Jesus was taken first to Annas, the former high priest and father-in-law of Caiaphas, the current high priest (John 18:12-24). From there he was taken to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:53-65). After an all-night session, the Sanhedrin decided to accuse Jesus of treason before Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:1). Pilate decided that Jesus was innocent, yet when the crowds continued to shout, “Crucify him,” he gave in and sentenced Jesus to die (Luke 23:1-24).

Reflection

Within less than twenty-four hours Jesus went from eating the Passover meal to dying as the “Lamb of God.” The New Covenant that Jesus instituted at the Last Supper is his kingdom’s constitution, the legal framework that explains how his kingdom functions. Jesus poured out his blood when he died for us as the Passover “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We can be part of his kingdom through faith by declaring our allegiance to him as our Lord and Savior.

All praise to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us his kingdom and his priests who serve before God his Father. Give to him everlasting glory! He rules forever and ever! Amen!

Revelation 1:5-6

From the Book:

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The One Year Christian History
By E. Michael Rusten and Sharon O. Rusten
Tyndale
$7.99

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