The scripture of The Last Supper is well known among Christians. We read it at least once a year, during the Easter season, and sometimes more. Many of us could recite it, if not word for word, but by retelling the story quite accurately.
Do you find yourself sometimes skimming over these Bible passages because you feel you already know them? I know I have done that. I’ve read them multiple times and heard sermons preached on them more times than I can count. It becomes a little too easy to read or listen distractedly.
Every time I read about The Last Supper, I have to remind myself to concentrate a little harder. I challenge myself to take in every word, every detail, and read it with new depth and new eyes. When I do I become overwhelmed with emotion.
This is the last meal Jesus will have on the earth, with His disciples. And He knows it. He knows what is to come later that night. He knows one of the men sitting at the table has betrayed him. He knows the rest will abandon him in fear a few hours later.
He could have used that time to indulge. He could have had His disciples serve Him a great feast and fulfill His final desires. He could have sent them all away knowing they were going to flee from Him anyway.
But He didn’t. Instead, He left them, and us, with the precious gift of communion, a way to remember and honour the sacrifice He made for us so we could be saved. He loved us that much. His final thoughts and actions were on us, on confirming the covenant between God and His people.
Let’s turn to Mark 14:12-26 (NLT):
12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table[a] eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man[b] must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant[c] between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
With this Jesus gave us The Lord’s Supper, a symbol of His sacrifice that we, as Christians, continue to honour and take part in. It is a time to remember the incredible gift we were given when the blood of Jesus was shed for our sins. It reminds us that Jesus came to earth, in human form, to save us and give us life. It is through Him that we gain acceptance into God’s Kingdom. It is through Him we are saved.
In his book, Insights on Matthew 16-28, Charles R. Swindoll says this:
“With the Lord’s Supper, then, we have a sacred symbol that serves as a frequent reminder – both a solemn and a joyful celebration – of who Jesus is and what He has done to save us. And in this symbol, more profound than a mere photo, Jesus gave us something we can not only see, but also touch, taste, smell, and hear. It’s a confession and commemoration of the gospel that involves all five senses. What a powerful practice the Lord has left us! We would do well to honour Him by reverently, joyfully, and thankfully partaking of these meaningful elements in faith.”
What a gift Jesus gave us in communion. The power and beauty of this symbol is revealed in the fact that after 2000 years, Christians still regularly engage in this way of honouring who Jesus is and what He has done for us. While it is a reminder of how our Saviour suffered, it also brings great joy as we think of His love for us and the new covenant created between God and His people.
Taking communion is an emotional experience. It is personally humbling, yet filled with such power. It is something we can share together, as members of God’s family, that reminds us of the grace, mercy and love of our Father. He sent His son to die for us. He wanted us to be with Him, so He sent Jesus to die so we are forgiven.
Let me leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul, as He passes on why we do communion, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 (NLT):
23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.[a] Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.