As I was thinking through the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection on that first Easter Sunday, I considered the Last Supper and the beauty of what happened on that night as Jesus led His disciples in the feast. I was preparing to write a short post on it, when I came across a similar post written by Nicolai Pedersen, a friend of mine. He has kindly allowed me to repost his summary of the last supper here, which saves me some time and also is a benefit to you as he articulates the content more clearly than I likely would have.
Significance of the Last Supper.
The Last Supper is not only a pivotal event in the life and ministry of Jesus but it has also become a fixture of popular culture. From art appreciation to conspiracies in popular fiction the Last Supper is widely misunderstood. But what does Scripture say about it?
Here are three specific take aways form the Last Supper as seen in Scripture.
1. Fulfillment of Prophecy
From the time of the Hebrews exodus from the land of Egypt and slavery Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread has been celebrated. In Exodus 12 the first Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated during the night when the plague of the death of the Firstborn. Later in the Law (Lev.23), the Israelites are instructed to celebrate the feast annually for the purpose of transmitting to future generations the significance of the the pivotal event in their past.
The last time Jesus and the twelve disciples celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread (they had celebrated it together three times previous), the night took on a special significance. During the meal Jesus halts the normal progression of the evening at the third cup and changes the multi-millennia old tradition. He brings a sense of chronology to the meal. He stops there and states that the the wine represents His blood. The whole Passover meal, though it commemorated an event in history, was in a reality a prophetic retelling of the plan of redemption of all people, not only the Jews. Jesus was explaining to the disciples where they presently were in the larger context of redemption.
2. Establishment of a New Feast
Jesus halted the meal at the third cup of Passover, referred to as the Cup of Redemption. Jesus equated the Cup of Redemption with His work on the Cross. The third Cup represented His own blood poured out as the sufficient sacrifice necessary to appease the judgement of God, just as the blood of the innocent lamb in antiquity placated the Angel of the Lord’s necessity to exact judgment on the first born.
This is the institution of communion, a memorial remembrance of the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ which allows the judgment of God to passover those are covered by it. This is what is remembered every time believers “take communion”. We are essentially re-enacting the larger symbol of the Passover in its keystone symbol: the Cup of Redemption.
3. The Promise of a Feast to Come
Jesus stated at the institution of communion, the remembrance of His sacrifice, that He would not drink wine again until He did in the Kingdom with His disciples (Matt 26:29). We are commanded by Jesus to remember the third Cup of Redemption continually until He returns. He promises to not drink of the vine again until the Kingdom, which will be the fourth cup in the Passover meal: the Cup of Restoration.
The third cup of the Last Supper is the last cup, but there is a promised cup yet to be drunk. The fourth Cup of Restoration should not be forgotten in the Last Supper narrative. It is the promised hope of the return of Jesus and fulfillment of all things. In one sense, the Last Supper is a meal on pause, a meal we continue to remember and celebrate until it picks up again in the Kingdom and the culmination of all things.
In our remembrance of the Last Supper, let’s end not only with a sobering reality of the cross, but also in the sure promise of Jesus return and the fourth cup: the celebratory Cup of Restoration.