Luke 22:7-23 (NIV) 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” 9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. 10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.” 13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 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. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
Last week I preached on the Lord’s Prayer through which Jesus taught His disciples and us how to relate with God in an intimate way, a new way, how to embrace God as a loving, kind, helpful, powerful, and personal Heavenly Father. In our text today, through this Last Supper, I believe Jesus was teaching His disciples how to properly relate with Him as Savior and Redeemer. This meal was very important for Jesus and the disciples because it was the last time they would eat together, and it would be Jesus’ Last Supper altogether before His crucifixion. Last Supper . . .
In our prison system, a condemned prisoner is usually allowed to choose what they will have for their last meal. Some of their choices are interesting.
Ted Bundy – A serial killer executed in Florida in 1989, had a burrito and mexican rice.
Timothy McVeigh – Executed in 2001 for his part in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK had two pints of Mint Chocolate Chip ice Cream.
John Wayne Gacy – A serial killer who murdered at least 33 young men and buried them under his house, had Kentucky Fried Chicken, fried shrimp, french fries, strawberries and Diet Coke.
Perhaps you have lost a loved one and following their passing you thought of the last meal you shared together. You tried to remember what they said, as if to find any last words to hold onto, to keep their memory alive.
Jesus knew last words and last suppers were very important. Perhaps this Last Supper was really more important for Jesus than the disciples because it was His last opportunity to have their full attention, to warn them, to prepare them, and to teach them. He took full advantage of this last meal in which He instituted a meal of remembrance of Himself before He had even died. Usually, a ceremony or event which commemorates someone’s life isn’t instituted by the person who is being remembered. It sort of evolves after the person’s departure. Not in this case. Jesus strategically chose this meal and this remembrance to represent exactly what the nature of His relationship was with His disciples and what He intended to do for them, and He added the caveat, “Don’t forget it.”
Being a faithful Jew, Jesus celebrated the traditional Seder Passover meal, but He did so a day early. He celebrated it on Thursday evening. Passover lambs would be offered up on Friday at 3:00 p.m. and the Passover would be in full swing that evening after sundown. Jesus had other plans for Friday. He would be unavailable on Friday. He would be hanging on the cross on Friday. He would actually be our PASSOVER LAMB on Friday, so He had the Passover meal ahead of time.
Matthew 26:17-19 tells us how Jesus planned ahead: 17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. Jesus knew He was going to be hanging on a cross and breathing His last just before the Jewish Passover would officially be in full swing, so I believe He celebrated this special meal early with His disciples. And I believe He did it on purpose. Again, just as He taught them a new way to relate to God as Father through teaching them the Lord’s Prayer, He was teaching His disciples a new way of viewing Him through the drinking of wine and the breaking of bread as part of this meal.
What was this Passover meal all about? It was an annual meal meant to remember or commemorate the exodus from slavery in Egypt, and Jesus added new commentary about the wine representing His blood and the bread representing His body. So, interesting, it is that in this passage we have here a meal of remembrance inside a meal of remembrance. Just as it would have sounded very strange to the disciples to hear Jesus say they should address God as “Father” in prayer, they would have had questions about Jesus inserting talk of His body and blood in the context of this Passover observance.
The disciples knew the Passover meal inside and out. They had grown up going through the ritual. They understood the symbolism. They could recite the Hebrew story line by line of how God raised up Moses to be a deliverer for God’s people. They knew how with God’s help he stood up to the Pharaoh and demanded God’s people be released.
They knew how the ten plagues were sent to help convince Pharaoh that the Jewish were a liability to keep around. The Nile River had been turned to blood. Frogs covered the earth. Gnats and flies invaded every place and space. Livestock were diseased. Festering boils broke out on animals and humans. Thunder and hail rained down on the earth bringing great destruction. Locusts covered the ground like carpet. The ninth plague was a plague of darkness for three days, followed by the grand finale, the death of the firstborn son and firstborn livestock of all Egyptian families. The only thing that spared the Israelites was the application of a spotless or perfect lamb’s blood over their doorpost (Ex. 12:5). Yes, a lamb had to be sacrificed for every family. Blood had to be shed. When the death angel passed over Egypt and saw the blood of the lamb on the doorpost that Hebrew family would be spared.
Yes, the disciples knew all too well about the shedding of blood and deliverance. It was who they were. It was their story. It was their history. It was where they had come from. It was how they remembered God was good. And Jesus took them through it all again, line by line, piece by piece inserting His own talk about blood and deliverance.
Before I get into the meat of the message, let me point out two things. The ninth plague against the Egyptians was a plague of darkness. For three days, darkness, thick darkness, covered the earth. The plagues represented God’s judgment on Egypt. It is interesting to me that when Jesus hung on the cross, beginning at noon, the time when the sun should be the most brilliant in the sky, darkness covered the earth for the next three hours. It was during that time Jesus felt the judgment of God as all humanity was being poured out on Him and He cried out, “My God, My God, why have YOU forsaken me.” There was darkness in the OT Hebrew story about deliverance. It was soon to be rehearsed as the Jews would celebrate Passover and recall the Ten Plagues God had sent on Egypt. So, with the three hours of darkness during Jesus’ crucifixion on their minds, the Jewish community would remember the darkness of judgment leveled against Egypt. Do you think God was sending His people a message?
The tenth plague sent on Egypt was the plague on the firstborn in which the firstborn of each family was killed. The day Jesus hung on the cross, God the Father watched as His first-born, His only Son, was slain to buy our freedom. Peter had just recently declared in Matthew 16:16-“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus’ Sonship had been reaffirmed during the trials He endured just before the crucifixion (Matthew 26). Jesus’ Sonship had been affirmed at His baptism. Here it was being affirmed again as the High Priest questioned Jesus demanding He answer if He claimed to be the Son of God. The Son of God was about to die just as the first-born Eyptian sons had died and right at Passover! These are interesting parallels between the OT deliverance from slavery story and our story where we were delivered from the oppression of sin.
So, as Jesus was eating this meal with the disciples, and they recalled the plagues on Egypt, He was preparing His disciples by getting the elements of darkness and the killing of a first-born son on the minds of His disciples. I didn’t come to those conclusions based on any scholars’ findings, but my own conclusions through the Holy Spirit’s leading. So make what you want of those observations.
At some point during the meal, we read in verse 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.”
The bread represented Christ’s body. He was telling them something. He was preparing them that something was going to happen to His body. He started to suffer in His body in the Garden of Gethsemane when He started to sweat drops of blood just anticipating how difficult His upcoming task was going to be. He suffered intense beatings that we can’t even comprehend from the Scriptural descriptions. His hands and feet were pierced. None of us could imagine spikes being driven through our feet and hands and the agony of suffocation on the cross given the already bloody, bruised, and beaten condition of Jesus.
Jesus’ body was bruised, bloodied, and broken on the cross, but in the Resurrection it was also made new. Jesus was not only going to have His body be tortured for the disciples, but He was also going to experience a transformation of body for the disciples. He was going to be made new. That is one of the keys to the Resurrection that gives us hope. One day our body will be done with just as Jesus’ body was done with, but when we trust in Him for salvation, we have the assurance that we too, will experience new life in a glorified body one day!
Now in a traditional Jewish Seder Passover meal, there were four times the host of the meal would take a cup of wine, lift it up and make some kind of declaration. The fourth time was the last time, and after it was lifted and drank from, the meal was officially over. The last cup of wine and the message that went with it was the last experience people had with the meal. After that last cup of wine, they would sing a portion of Scripture.
The four cups of wine used in the meal were interspersed throughout the meal and they represented four “I will” statements God made to Israel while they were captive in Egypt. They flow from Exodus 6:6-8 (NIV) 6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'”
Let’s look at these statements which each are represented in a cup of wine that was consumed at the Passover:
1. Cup of Sanctification-I will bring you out. Sanctification means separate, set apart, and holy. God was making a promise to Israel about giving them a special status.
In the Biblical account in Exodus, Egypt was symbolic as sin. Sin keeps us from a holy God. God was making a promise to His people that He would provide a way for them to become holy. 1 Corinthians 1:30 “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, HOLINESS and redemption.” There, sitting before the disciples was THE WAY God had chosen to secure their holiness. Jesus would sacrifice His life in order for them to have right standing with God.
This morning God is calling some people out. He wants you to know you are special. He has plans for you. He wants you to be used of Him in a special way. He is preparing you for something special. God has made a special commitment to you in the person of Jesus Christ. He will bring you out of the world and to a separated place in Him where He can use you for a specific purpose. When a person writes with a pen, that pen is “sanctified” or set apart for the purpose of being a writing instrument. When eye glasses are used to improve sight, they have been “sanctified” or set aside for that purpose. When you pursue and live according to God’s purposes for your life, you can say you have been sanctified. Until you know what that purpose is, as long as you are seeking God’s will, you are being sanctified. And hear me, “He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.” God’s promise to bring Israel out is the same promise He makes to you and to me.
2. Cup of Deliverance-I will free you was God’s promise in the second “I will” statement.
We all need freed from sin. Romans 6:17-19 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
Everything the Israelites needed while they were slaves in Egypt you and I also need today. Listen, if you are saved you may not be able to say you are sinless, but you should find that you begin to sin less. If we are letting God be God in our lives we are become free from the clutches of sin.
Not only do we need to be free from the slave master we call sin, but we also all need freed from ourselves and faulty ways of thinking. When you have been held captive by something, when you get away from it, sometimes you have a hard time thinking differently about your new life and yourself. You may be in a different place in life, but you may have the mind of a slave. You may think you aren’t good enough, that you can’t flourish in a place of freedom, that you can’t have peace and security in your mind, that you can’t make good, godly choices and you need someone to control you and tell you what to do. Why do you think the NT resounds with challenges to be transformed in our minds, renewed in our minds, and tells us we can possess the mind of Christ? (Romans 12:2, Phil. 4:8, Is. 26:3, II Cor. 10:3-6, Phil. 2:5 and Eph. 2:4-6 just to name a few!)
Now this third cup of wine is critical for us to examine and understand.
3. Cup of Redemption-“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
This cup is based upon the third promise of Exodus 6:6: “‘I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.” The picture here is of God reaching out His hands to help His people, to bring redemption to them. When you synthesize the Gospel accounts, you see this is the point and time in which Jesus said to His disciples: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
Just as the Israelites had been given a picture of redemption through the outstretched hands of God, Jesus was about to stretch out His hands and be nailed to the cross. His blood would pay the price for their redemption and ours.
Note the language. Jesus said this cup was being “poured out” for them. What happened on the cross as Jesus’ blood flowed freely? His blood was being poured out for the sins of the world. They would never celebrate the Passover the same after the events of the next day. It was no longer just about living through the firstborn plague in Egypt and praising God for that, but it was about living forever with God in paradise because Jesus, with outstretched arms, spilled His blood to redeem His people.
The Fourth Cup- Completion, or Praise-I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
Jewish Passover meals would conclude with the partaking from the fourth cup. I found the fourth cup called a few different names, two of which are “completion” and “praise.”
It was related to the “I will” about us becoming God’s people, and Him becoming our God. There was a joining of two parties expressed in that “I will” statement. Can you think of an earthly ceremony where person A becomes joined to person B? Marriage, right? Hold that thought.
Turn if you will to Matthew 26:27-29 where we learn a detail about the fourth cup. 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 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.”
Jesus didn’t drink the fourth cup with His disciples that night. He stopped after cup three. Why? He stopped because the Bible tells us there is a feast yet for us to celebrate. It is called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:6-9 (NKJV)
6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ”
Notice the use of the word “lamb!—That’s Passover language, right?” There is a feast ahead. There is a cup yet to drink! There is a cup of completion and praise to partake of. There is still a day coming when you and I who Scripture calls the “Bride of Christ” will celebrate with Jesus face to face. It will be a celebration like no other. Maybe you had a big wedding reception. Honey, I had ice sculptures at my wedding reception, and topiaries on every table. There were strands of gorgeous white lights cascading from the ceiling and linen table clothes. There was great food and music and fellowship enjoyed by all, but it pales in comparison to what will take place when Jesus drinks that fourth cup with us at the wedding reception when the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place! Glory!
Jesus has become our Passover Lamb, and one day we will be reunited with Him forever. Our response to today’s message will take place as we observe communion together. Jesus said, “Take and eat.” “Take and drink.” There is a reception on our part. Only those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord can truly claim the “I will” promises of God. Only those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord will receive an invite to that great reception in Heaven when we will all partake of the fourth cup with Jesus.
FOUR PEOPLE TO ANOINT
Second Service-Cassie, Joy, PD, PT