Jesus inaugurated the Lord’s Supper, also called the Eucharist or Communion, during His last Passover meal with His disciples. Today, Christians continue to observe the Lord’s Supper as part of corporate worship. Partaking together of the bread and the cup, which represent Christ’s body and blood, reminds us of our life together as the spiritual body of Jesus. This is made possible only because of who He is and what He has done for us.
Today’s passage describes Jesus’ final Passover meal with disciples in the hours preceding His death. It was the first day of Passover, also called the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt (see Exodus 12). As part of their rescue, an unblemished lamb had to be killed and its blood applied to the doorposts. The firstborns within houses with the blood applied would be spared from death.
The meal began with a somber announcement. Jesus declared that one of the Twelve would betray Him. Each of the disciples proclaimed his innocence, but Jesus persisted. Then, while they were eating, Jesus broke a piece of bread, distributing it to His disciples: “This is my body given for you” (v. 19). He distributed a cup of wine, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (v. 20).
Jesus was identifying Himself as the Lamb who delivers us from the bondage of sin. His blood would be shed, and all those who trust in His work of redemption will be saved from sin and death. Only through His blood can we find forgiveness (see Matt. 26:28). In an echo of Exodus 12:24, Jesus instructed His disciples to participate in this Lord’s Supper in “remembrance of me” (v. 19).
Participation in the Lord’s Supper is more than consuming the elements of the bread and the cup. We should remember that Jesus was the spotless Lamb who died in our place to save us. We should be thankful that the offering of His blood makes it possible for us to be forgiven. And we should renew our commitment to live as His body, the church.