Luke 22: 14-20 (NIV): 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
This was Thursday night of Passover week. All Jews were required to go to Jerusalem to eat the Feast of Unleavened Bread and take part in the week-long Passover events. Passover was the celebration of the death angel passing over those who had the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. This was the tenth and final plague in Egypt. It was the one that convinced Pharaoh to set the Israelites free.
So Passover was a celebration of freedom. Jesus and his disciples followed the law and had been in Jerusalem to honor the holiday. Then Thursday night arrived. Jesus and his disciples met in an upstairs room that had been prepared in advance for them. They reclined at the table and began the meal. None of the Gospels give us much detail about the meal, but we know they would have eaten roast lamb, bitter herbs, and bread without yeast, and they would have drunk wine. Scholars say the lamb was roasted over a fire using two sticks in the shape of a cross. Exodus 12 tells us how the meal was to be eaten.
Then Jesus gave new meaning to the meal. He said the bread now represented his body, given for us, and the cup represented his blood, shed for us. His blood represented a new covenant – a new contract. Jesus was about to pay for our sins, once for all time, and our part of the agreement is simple: we must put our trust in him alone for our salvation.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.