Passion Week: Day 5 (perhaps Thursday); The Last Supper.

Class Outline:

Thursday April 9, 2020


Sometime late Tuesday afternoon, Jesus and His disciples left the city after an incredibly long day and headed up the Mount of Olives. They may have spent some time in the Garden of Gethsemane, but somewhere on the road that climbed the mount, they turned and noticed once again the beauty of the city, which the disciples pointed out to the Lord.


The Lord predicted the destruction of the Temple and the city, to which the disciples asked Him three questions; when shall these things be, what shall be the sign of your coming, and the end of the world? Jesus answers these question in the famous Olivet Discourse of which volumes have been written.


Upon returning to Bethany, attending the house of Simon the Leper (who is no longer a leper), Jesus predicts His crucifixion in two days’ time, and significantly, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anoints Jesus for His burial. Judas, likely stung in his heart by the events of the last few days, heads back to Jerusalem and bargains with the chief priests to betray Jesus, which of course, Jesus knows he is doing. A fitting end to the last day of Jesus’ public ministry, that He should be betrayed by one close to Him, whom He loved.


Wednesday might have been a day of rest with the disciples in Bethany. Don’t get hung up on trying to figure out which day of the week Jesus was crucified. People have been trying to do that for centuries and no one can offer decisive proof. If there was decisive proof, it would be in the Gospels and not in the reasonings of scholars or so-called scholars. What is important is the events. He entered the city on a colt on a Sunday and He rose from the dead on the following Sunday, and everything that happened in between is of extreme importance.


On Thursday (perhaps) there is the preparation for the Passover meal at the upper room of a home of a friend, possibly the parents of John-Mark.


They take the meal together. The disciples are still proud, unwilling to washing the feet of one another, debating which one of them is the greatest, to which Jesus gently instructs the dangers of such thinking. Jesus Himself washes their feet and instructs them, hinting at what great things are to come upon them and the church through the fulfillment of the New Covenant in His blood (Joh 13-16). They sing the Hallel and head off to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus suffers incredible temptation, prays the incredible prayer of John 17 and is arrested while the disciples flee.


Soon after, John and Peter follow the arresting party to the house of Caiaphas and Jesus begins to face His six unfair trials, which would run through the entire night and into the morning where He would face the Sanhedrin, Herod, and finally Pilate from whom He would be led to crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ultimate glory.


Tonight, we shall return to the Passover meal, His last supper with His disciples. Imagine what it was like for Him, that after this week of unveiling Himself to Israel, and after His entire life of accomplishing all of the Father’s plan, His public ministry over, He sits down to His last meal, a Passover, with His disciples. Knowing what Passover means and knowing how He was going to take from it and create a form of worship brand new for the age of the brand new men that He was going to create.


At this meal, Jesus transfers from the old covenant to the new covenant, and so the Passover is removed and replaced with the Lord’s communion table.


In essence, this meal is a culmination for the whole reason of His coming, of His birth. After these long three years, and these long several days of the week since His open declaration to Israel as her Messiah-King, He can, in quiet solitude, relax with His disciples and reveal to them that despite Israel’s rejection of Him, all things are going to change, all things are going to be made brand new.


Jesus understands that there is a traitor among them. He also understands that the other eleven are still holding on to their pride and are unknowing concerning the important things that are upon them; the most important things in the history of the world. But Jesus also knows that these eleven children are going to change and become men, great men of faith who are going to carry what He is about to reveal to them to the ends of the earth.


It was the Last Supper that Jesus announced the tuning point of faith, from old to new, and thereby proclaimed a new worship of Him.


By all accounts Jesus was in charge of this Passover meal, probably the first in which He did so. Holy Communion for the church grew out of the meaning of this Passover, but it is not the Passover; it is the new center of the worship of God.


At every Passover, the head of the family or the meal was required to give the interpretation. Usually it was a young boy who would ritually ask, “Why do we celebrate this Passover?” to which the father or the head would related to them all the story of the redemption of the nation from Egypt.


The table is likely set as it would be for all Jewish families during this time in history. In front of each seat are four cups for ritual wine, one plate, cutlery, and a napkin. Several candles would have been on the table. Charoseth (a sauce like concoction of apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and honey), unleavened bread, and vinegar are all on the table as well as jugs of wine.



The meal began with the preliminary course, blessed with the first cup of red wine, the cup of sanctification or the qiddush cup. This course included, among other things, green and bitter herbs. 


The four cups correspond to the four promises in EXO 6:6-7, which each one was recited after each ritual cup.


EXO 6:6-7

Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 'Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.


Passover meal:

First course (bitter herbs, first cup [sanctification])

Liturgy (Haggadah)

Hallel (a) Psa 113-116

Second cup (interpretation)

Main course

Third cup (celebration)

Hallel (b) Psa 117-118

Fourth cup (consummation)


After the first course there was the Passover liturgy in which the story (Haggadah) was related by the leader. I think we can confidently say that Christ recited this story of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, though the gospels do not reveal it, and He would have done it the best it had ever been done.


Then the first part of the Hallel was sung, Psa 113-116.


The participants drank from the second cup, the cup of interpretation or Haggadah cup. The main course was then served, and grace was said by the leader over the unleavened bread. The meal consisted of lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, fruit puree, and wine.


After the meal the leader said grace over the third cup of wine, the cup of blessing.


The ritual concluded with, among other things, the singing of the second part of the hallel, Psa 117-118, and the drinking of the fourth cup, the cup of consummation. Jesus did not drink the fourth cup, leaving it from His lips He said:


MAT 26:26

"But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."


All the body of Christ will drink this fourth cup with Him at the consummation of our marriage in heaven, in the great banquet hall of the New Jerusalem (or so as I picture it). He purposely set aside this last cup in order to share it with us in the happiest of times.


ISA 25:6-9

And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples        on this mountain;

A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,

And refined, aged wine.


7 And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is        over all peoples,

Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.


8 He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;

For the Lord has spoken.


9 And it will be said in that day,

"Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might        save us.

This is the Lord for whom we have waited;

Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."


Passover was a time of rejoicing, a festival of freedom. It looked back to the glorious deliverance from bondage through the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the people, and it also looked forward to the coming deliverance through the Messiah, the hope of glory.


The eleven men at that table believed Jesus to be that Messiah, but they still did not at all understand how He was going to deliver His people.


1CO 5:7

For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.


While the disciples were relaxed and merry with the celebration, Jesus would pray over the bread and wine with deep and heavy thoughts. This must have surprised them. They expected the usual, what they had seen and heard every year since they could remember as young boys.


When Jesus says grace over the bread and wine, He says something these Jewish men had never heard at a Passover meal.


When the leader prayed grace over the bread he would say something very close to: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” Jesus prayed something quite different. He was making something new.


When the leader prayed grace over the wine he would say: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.” Jesus would change this and thus make a new form of worship based, not upon God providing wine, but on the Father providing Him.


Jesus’ words of interpretation are critical because they were to become the sanctifying words sued in the celebration of Holy Communion. He was identifying Himself with the Paschal Lamb that was slain for the remission of sins. Him, whom the whole Passover signified, would become the center of worship in the new covenant.


Is it any wonder that Holy Communion has been the most participated in and most discussed ritual in the history of the world?


Jesus interprets the bread:


MAT 26:26

And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."


LUK 22:19

"This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."


“This is My body,” is not part of the Passover ritual. However, in DEU 16:3, this bread is called the bread of affliction.


DEU 16:3

seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste)


Jesus had also claimed to be the Bread of Life that came down from heaven to give life to men, JOH 6:35. But now He explains further that His own body is the bread of affliction in that it would be given up for His disciples. And in fact, neither Hebrew or Aramaic have a word meaning “body”. He would have said “basar” meaning “flesh” (“This is My flesh”) which the writers translated as ‘soma’ in Greek. That the bread was broken by Himself is the representative fact that His body would be broken, and the fruit of that would be given to the disciples to eat, i.e. take into themselves to become a part of them, new life.


Jesus interprets the cup (3rd cup: the cup of blessing).


MAT 26:27-28

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”


LUK 22:20

“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”


This was not the normal grace that was said over the cup. The Greek word for “gave thanks” is eucharistesas and from this the church designated the holy meal as the Eucharist, or Thanksgiving. When we celebrate this meal, every time we celebrate with thanksgiving for what the Trinity has done for us and not to obtain peace with God. Peace we have, thanksgiving is what we offer back to Him.


“This is My blood of the new covenant.” Again, He is applying the language to Himself, as He did with the bread.


The flesh (bread) and the blood (wine) designate the two components of the sacrificial animal. The flesh was torn and the blood was poured out.


In His words over the wine Jesus brought together three significant OT passages.


EXO 24:8

So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."


He was doing what Moses had done - He was inaugurating a covenant, but a new one.


The second passage is JER 31:31-34


JER 31:31

"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah …


And although many of its promised blessings still await fulfillment, the Lust Supper inaugurated this New Covenant. Jesus understood that the violent, sacrificial death He was about to endure would ratify the New Covenant that He was inaugurating.


MAT 26:27-28

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”


Jesus also said that the blood of this covenant was to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. He had already explained that He was the Servant who was to suffer in accordance with the Scriptures; He came to serve and not to be served and to give His life as a ransom for many, MAT 20:28. He thus identified Himself with the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.


In Isa 53 the word “many” is used often.


ISA 52:14a

Just as many were astonished at you


ISA 53:11d

My Servant, will justify the many,


ISA 53:12e

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,


In the context of Isaiah’s prophecies, the “many” refers to the sinful people of the world, Gentiles as well as Jews, for whom the Servant would die.


“Poured out” is also used.


ISA 53:12c

Because He poured out Himself to death,


And His death was an offering for sin.


ISA 53:10c

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,


So when Jesus interpreted the wine as His blood of the New Covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins, He was explaining that His death would be a substitutionary sacrifice that would restore people to communion with God.


Believers are told to observe the Lord’s Supper “in remembrance” of Him. This is more than a mere recollection for a few minutes. By looking at the bread, His flesh, and the wine, His blood, we are faced with His actual, historic humanity. This is more than mere theory, or speculation, or a system of philosophy, but a very personal matter between His real life given, and our real life receiving, and so we eat and drink.


When we eat and drink, it is a memorial that requires a proper response, as did the dedication offering in Israel of the OT (Lev 2).


Memorial is a reminder, which is a renewal. It is not a rededication as much as it is a call to remember our commitment to Him, and since none of us are as committed as we would like to be, it is something of a renewal every time we celebrate.


A memorial keeps covenant promises active and alive. In the OT the believers reminded God of His covenant promises and their needs. Of course, God does not need reminding, but so often He says of Himself, “I remembered My covenant…” By reminding God in this way we are reminding ourselves, and that reminder brings to mind our obligations to the covenant.