One of the most famous paintings in the world is The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The painting shows the moment Jesus announced He would be betrayed, with the disciples reacting in different ways appropriate to their personalities. Other things are going on as well, including Jesus gesturing to the bread and the wine that are the central symbols of communion or the Lord’s Supper.
What we call “the Last Supper” was Jesus’ final Passover meal. As a Jew, He celebrated Passover every year. One cannot help but wonder if growing up He was ever the child who asked the question, “What does this ceremony mean to you?” (Ex. 12:26). In today’s reading, He knew it would be His last Passover on earth, and for this reason, He’d looked forward greatly to celebrating it with the Twelve. At the conclusion of the meal, they would sing a hymn, traditionally Psalms 115–118 (v. 26).
That day, Jesus certainly had two topics on His mind. First, He knew there was a traitor among them (vv. 18–21). His astonishing announcement caused consternation among the disciples. Who could it be? As we now know, it was Judas. Second, Jesus had a serious reason for instituting a new Passover (vv. 22–25). The bread represented His body, soon to be tortured and broken on the cross (see John 6:48–51). The wine represented His blood, soon to be shed on the cross. The original Passover included substitutionary blood atonement and liberation from bondage (see yesterday’s reading). The new Passover carries a similar symbolism: Jesus died in our place to free us from sin. His innocent blood paid the price of death for all who believe. We can receive forgiveness and eternal life by trusting in Him for salvation!
>> Does your church observe communion? Before the next observance, spend time reflecting on the passage in 1 Corinthians 11:23–29. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said—a solemn responsibility and privilege.