Matthew 26 17-30: THE LORD'S SUPPER


I have dealt with the Lord's Supper in some detail in my expositions on:

(a) Luke: See Luke22v7to38

(b) 1 Corinthians:See 1Cor11v17to34.

In this short and simple exposition I am going to deal with what the Lord's Supper means to me personally.

(1) It was instigated by Jesus himself.

I believe the Communion service is the most meaningful that Christians participate in because it originated with Jesus himself. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians: For I received FROM THE LORD what I passed on to you. The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed took bread ...... . 1Cor11v23.

The majority of people who attend church will stay for Communion. It is a very precious act of worship for them. In the words of Edward Denny:

          Jesus, we thus obey
          The last and kindest word:
          Here in Thine own appointed way
          We come to meet our Lord.

(2) The role of the Passover Lamb.

Paul wrote: Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. 1Cor5v7.

Jesus undoubtedly identified himself with the Passover Lamb - slain for us. This explains why he was so eager to participate in the Passover meal with his disciples. It was not exactly as a Passover meal should have been. The lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world was participating in the feast and not yet part of it! But, next day, he would be slain; the ultimate sacrifice for mankind's sin.

It is good to think of Jesus as our Passover Lamb for several reason. As our Passover Lamb, he:

(a) Identifies us. The ancient ceremony, particularly the blood splashed on the door posts and lintels, identified those who truly belonged to God. It identified his people; the people depending upon his word.

Those who participate in the Lord's Supper are generally, with, perhaps, a few exceptions, people of God and devotees of Jesus.

(b) Protects us from judgment. When the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt and saw blood on the door posts and lintels of a house, it passed over that home. The ancient Israelites were saved by faith - their obedience to God's instructions mediated through Moses.

If we trust in the shed blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins we shall be spared condemnation. Paul writes in his amazing letter to the Romans: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom8v1. In the matchless words of Charles Wesley:

          No condemnation now I dread;
          Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
          Alive in Him, my living Head,
          And clothed in righteousness divine,
          Bold I approach the eternal throne,
          And claim the crown through Christ my own.

(c) Delivers us. The Passover Lamb delivered the Israelites from slavery. It set them free to journey to the Promised Land.

Jesus our Passover Lamb liberates us from bondage. Paul informs us: But now you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Rom6v22. See also Gal5v1.

(d) Sustains us. The Passover Lamb was eaten by the Israelites before starting out from Egypt, the land of bondage, to the Promised Land.

None can sustain the weary Christian like Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews urges wavering Jewish Christians: Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb12v2.

(3) The Lord's Supper is an occasion for giving thanks.

Jesus gave thanks for the bread and the wine. Jesus and his disciples were going to have a meal together and so the Master blesses the bread, the staff of life, and the wine which makes glad the heart. In the words of Horatius Bonar:

          For the bread and for the wine,
          For the pledge that seals him mine,
          For the words of love divine,
          We give you thanks , O Lord.

(4) Jesus told his disciples to: "Take eat - this is mybody."

This statement resembles what Jesus told the crowd the day after feeding the 5000: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry." Jn6v35. See John6v25to59.

The appropriate response to any wholesome food is not to inspect it, admire it or even praise it - but to eat it. The ultimate commitment to a lamb chop is to eat it. We must be committed to Jesus and feast upon him for our spiritual well being. A diet based on the 'Bread of Life' is necessary to: maintain health, give strength and provide energy. We need to watch our diet if we wish to be strong and active Christians.

Corrie ten Boon travelled all over the world and addressed hundreds of different groups to speak to them about Jesus and the difference he made to her life. She continued her ministry into old age sustained and energised by her relationship with Jesus.

Once again Paul has some good advice for us: I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil4v12and13.

(5) The proffered cup.

Jesus took a beaker of wine and passed it to his disciples saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Mt26v27and28.

The old covenant is clearly state in Dt31v15and16: "For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways and keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will be bless you in the land you are entering to possess. This covenant was sealed with blood. Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words. Ex24v8.

A covenant is an agreement made by God with his people. God promises in his old covenant to own and bless the Israelites if they obey his commandments.

Jesus made a new agreement possible when he died on the cross and rose again the third day. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for men's sins when he hung upon the cross. The writer to the Hebrews puts it like this: So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. Heb9v28.

God accepted the sacrifice Jesus offered. The Saviour was able cry in triumph from the cross: "It is finished." Jn19v30. He had completed the great work God had given him to do.

The blood Jesus shed on the cross is a powerful token of the sacrifice he made. Hence we have expressions in the New Testament like this: In fact the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Heb9v28. The blood of Jesus, his Son purifies from all sin. 1John1v7.

Christ's sacrifice becomes effective in our lives when we put our faith in it. The new agreement that God makes with us is summed up by John: If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1Jn1v9.

So, when we drink the wine at the Lord's Supper, the wine that represents Jesus' blood, we are affirming our total dependence upon his sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. If that is the bedrock of our relationship with Jesus we can rejoice that we have new life in him. As Josiah Conder put it:

          Vine of heaven! Thy blood supplies
          The blest cup of sacrifice;
          'Tis Thy wounds our healing give;
          To Thy cross we look and live:
          Thou, our life; O let us be
          Rooted, grafted, built in Thee.

(6) Till he come.

I love Paul's words in 1Cor11v26: For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till he comes.

I always take the opportunity when I drink the wine to offer a toast to Jesus; I just say quietly to myself, "Till he come." It is right we should look back at the Lord's Supper to celebrate all Jesus has done for us but it is also appropriate to look forward. Jesus did! He said to his disciples: "I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." Mt26v29. Jesus will return; he is coming back to establish an eternal kingdom. What a glad, glad day that will be.

Edward Denny anticipates the Christian's joy at seeing Jesus face to face:

          But if this glimpse of love
          Is so divinely sweet,
          What will it be, O Lord above,
          Thy gladdening smile to meet.

          To see Thee face to face,
          Thy perfect likeness wear
          And all Thy ways of wondrous grace
          Through endless years declare!

(7) When they had sung a hymn.

Jesus and his disciples doubtless sang the Passover psalms: 114 to 118. I can think of no better way to conclude this brief and simple exposition than with a great hymn of James Montgomery's:

          According to Thy gracious word,
          In meek humility,
          This will I do, my dying Lord;
          I will remember Thee.

          Thy body broken for my sake,
          My bread from heaven shall be;
          The cup of blessing I will take,
          And thus remember Thee?

          Can I Gethsemane forget?
          Or there Thy conflict see,
          Thine agony and bloody sweat,
          And not remember Thee

          When to the cross I turn my eyes
          And rest on Calvary,
          O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
          I must remember Thee

          Remember Thee, and all Thy pains,
          And all Thy love to me;
          Yea, while a breath, a pulse, remains,
          Will I remember Thee.

          And when these failing lips grow dumb,
          And mind and memory flee,
          When Thou shalt in Thy kingdom come,
          Jesus remember me.

A great hymn - seldom sung! We used to have just one itinerant preacher, John Day, who would often choose this hymn when he came to Brockley to conduct a service. I can understand him loving to sing it: Jesus remember me!