The Beginning of the Lord's Supper

(Matt. 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25) It was a Thursday in spring. Jesus knew that He was going to die the next day. That Thursday was the first day of the Jewish feast of Unleavened Bread, or Passover, as it is often called. Jesus' disciples asked Him, "Where do you want us to go to get the Passover meal ready for you to eat?" So Jesus told Peter and John, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to a house he will enter, and tell the owner of that house, 'The Teacher says, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Passover meal with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room with furniture. Get it ready for us there." So they went and found the house like Jesus had said, and got the Passover meal ready. When it was evening, Jesus came with the other apostles.

Then Jesus said to them, "I have really wanted to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. For I tell you that I will not eat the Passover meal with you again until it has full meaning in the kingdom of God." Then he took a cup containing "fruit of the grapevine" (that is, grape juice or grape wine) and thanked God for it and told His disciples, "Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the 'fruit of the grapevine' until the Kingdom of God comes." And so they began to eat. And while they were eating, Jesus surprised them by saying, "Truly, I tell you, one of you who is eating here will betray me." And they all became sad and began to ask Him, "Is it I, Lord?" Jesus answered, "It is on of the twelve, one who is dipping bread in the same sauce dish with me. The Son of Man has to die like it is written He will, but woe to that man who betrays Him! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born." Now Judas had gone to the Jewish leaders and agreed to turn Jesus over to them for thirty silver coins. So when he asked Jesus, "Is it I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "You said it."

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and thanked God for it, and broke it and gave it to the disciples. He told them, "Take this and eat it. This is my body, which is given for you. Keep doing this in my memory." And when the supper was over, He took a cup containing "fruit of the grapevine" and thanked God for it and gave it to them, saying, "All of you drink of this. For this is the blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you drink it, keep doing this in my memory." Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Later the apostles remembered what Jesus had told them to do and the early Christians often ate a meal of bread and "fruit of the grapevine" in Jesus' memory. This meal was called "the breaking of bread" (Acts 2:42, 46), "communion" (that is, "a sharing"-1 Cor. 10:16), and "the Lord's Supper" (1 Cor. 11:20). The early Christians used to meet together on Sundays in order to remember Jesus by eating this meal together (Acts 20:7). We also ought to obey Jesus' command and remember Him as we share this meal together on Sundays.

That Thursday night Judas left the meal to go and betray Jesus to the Jewish leaders. It is always a dangerous thing to leave off remembering Jesus at the Lord's Supper. It often happens that when a Christian quits going to church and thus misses the Lord's Supper, he soon finds himself caught up in other sins. The Lord's Supper is not magic, but when a person quits remembering Jesus in this way, he becomes spiritually weak. It is amazing that many denominations have quit remembering Jesus in this way, or at most share in the Lord's Supper only four times a year. Others have changed it by having sweet potatoes instead of bread, or water or coke instead of "fruit of the grapevine." Is it so hard to obey Jesus' command to remember Him like He said? Let us be careful to remember Him in the way He wants. It will be for our spiritual good.

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