His Last Supper
This post is from the Christ Fellowship Easter Devotion, "We Have Seen His Glory." To download the entire devotional, click here.
Ever since Jesus was little boy, the Jewish month of Nisan would have been very special to him. For on the fifteenth day of Nisan the Festival of the Passover begins. The Festival of the Passover was week long memorial to the events that took place during the Exodus from Egypt. Is was a time to remember how God has passed over Israel but brought judgment upon Egypt. The first night of the festival began with a special meal (this meal is sometimes referred to as “the Passover”). It was a meal the Jesus had eaten for many years. But this year the meal carried a great weight – it would be the last meal Jesus would eat before his death.
The gospel writers all agree that the first day of the festival fell on the Thursday just before Jesus’ death. And as that day came, Jesus instructed his disciples to make preparations for the passover meal that night. They secured an upper room, as Jesus directed. A lamb was sacrificed for the meal. And the bread and wine were prepared. Then later that evening Jesus gathered with only his twelve disciples to celebrate the past and a new Exodus that was soon to come. Jesus told his disciples that he had earnestly desired to eat this meal with them (Luke 22:15). He had longed to be with them at his last supper. He had longed to serve them by washing their feet. And he had longed to announce for the first time that the New Covenant has now arrived.
That the Old Covenant was broken was no secret. It was broken even before Moses came down from the mountain to deliver it! The history of the people of Israel is a history of covenant unfaithfulness. God had saved his people from the bondage of Egypt and called them to live in covenant love toward him. But their hearts lead them away. They, to use the Bible’s language, whored after other gods. This Covenant was surely broken. God’s people needed a new one. And this is exactly what God promised to give. Jeremiah and Ezekiel both talk about the coming of a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36). This New Covenant would change hearts, forgiven sins, and pour out God’s Spirit. Where the Old failed, the New would succeed.
But God’s people were left waiting. Years turned to generations. Generations turned to centuries. It seemed that God had forgotten his promise. Had Israel strayed too far for God to bring them this covenant? Was there ever coming a day in which God would come and save his people? When would the New Covenant come? All of the these questions and more, no doubt, filled the hearts of God people in Jesus’ day, especially the disciples. They had seen the wondrous works of Jesus. They had heard this astounding teachings. They had confessed him to be the Christ.
And then as they were eating the Passover with him, they heard what their hearts had longed for. After breaking bread and explaining that it represented his broken body, Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood,” (Luke 22:20). It was finally here. God’s New Covenant with his people had come. And Jesus was ushering it in. But it would not be without blood. When God inaugurated the Old Covenant, Moses was told to sprinkle all the people with blood. Blood has to be shed in order for a holy God and sinful man to be in covenant together. This is why Jesus said it was his blood that was bringing in the New Covenant. Jesus knew that he was hours away from being beaten, from being pierced with thorns, and from being nailed to a cross. His blood was about to be shed. And it would bring with it a New Covenant of hope and salvation for God’s people