Stunned silence hung in the room as the door closed behind Judas. Jesus paused, reached out and picked up the last loaf of bread on the table. “Oh, how I have longed to share this meal with you. I shall no longer eat with you until the kingdom of God is established.”
Jesus looked up. “Father, I thank You for these you have given Me. I ask that You bless this event and bring glory to Your name by what is about to happen.”
He tore the flattened unleavened bread down the middle and handed each piece to the man on either side of Him. “This is My body which is broken for you. Each of you is to take a piece of it. As often as you eat it remember Me and My sacrifice.”
After each man ate his portion Jesus picked up the last goblet of wine. “This is my blood of the new covenant. It is shed for many for the remission of sins. You shall all drink from it as a remembrance of My death.”
Jesus handed the goblet to John and waited until all had partaken of the fruit’s juice. “I now give you a new commandment, that you love one another; as I have loved you, you shall love one another. By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus sang a familiar hymn as He stood. The men joined Him in the song as they all stood and exited into the night to go to their usual night-time stop: the garden of Gethsemane.
We can only imagine what was going through the disciple’s minds as they walked out of that upper room into the night. They walked into the room expecting the normal Passover meal like they had shared twice before with the Messiah. Not only did their Rabbi wash their feet, but He said there was a betrayer among them. Was Judas Iscariot the betrayer, or was he on an errand Jesus had preplanned for him? And what was this thing about the bread being His body and the wine being His blood? And what was that about not eating again until the kingdom of God is established… did that mean the long-awaited kingdom was about to begin? They would have to wait for the course of events to run out to learn the answers to their questions.
You and I are so familiar with this story that we forget that this was the disciple’s life being lived out as things unfolded. They couldn’t read ahead to see if all this would have a happy ending. If they had known what was coming they probably would have locked the door from the inside and stayed in that room. Instead, they blindly followed the One who did know what was about to happen.
Communion, the Lord’s table, the Lord’s supper, the Eucharist… these are but a few of the titles given to the remembrance of Jesus’s sacrificial death. There’s as much confusion surrounding the event as there are names for it. Some say that you must take part in it to get to Heaven, other’s state that it’s only a symbolic gesture.
The symbolism is huge in this event as Jesus presented it to His followers. This is meant for remembering what is involved in His sacrificial death on our behalf. The bread stands in for Jesus’s body. Passover bread would be made without yeast, therefore it would be flat. The Hebrews in Egypt had to be ready for a quick exodus so they didn’t have time for their bread to rise. Yeast was symbolic of sin to the Jews. Jesus was without sin, so His body was the only one that would make the acceptable sacrifice to a perfectly Holy God.
The wine stood in as a symbol of Jesus’s blood. I’ve been told that the Greek language of the first century didn’t have separate words for fermented or non-fermented grape juice, so we can only guess which one they had. The alcohol content isn’t the important part of this, the symbol of the blood-like colored juice standing in place of Jesus blood is what’s substantial. Blood was forbidden to be eaten, or drank, by any Israelite according to Leviticus 17. Why? Because, according to verse 11, “the life of a creature is in its blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
Jesus would lose a lot of blood during His total crucifixion ordeal. The scourging He experienced opened His back up by tearing his flesh away from His ribs. The crown of thorns would open large holes in his scalp. The nails in His hands and feet would remain open wounds as He would have to put pressure on them just to breathe.
The human body of Jesus would have to endure all of that, as well as the mocking as the guards would blindfold Him and slap Jesus’s face, then say ‘if you’re a prophet, tell us who just hit you.’ The Divine part of Jesus could have put a stop to it all that with a word, but He knew that this was the only way we could be brought into the presence of God. He knew before the world was ever created the He would have to go through this agony. So, why did He do it? One word answer: LOVE.
The nails aren’t what held Jesus on the cross. The were just the human invention to carry out the deed. His love for us made Him stay on that cross to the end. The mockers at the foot of the cross said. “He saved others, why can’t He save Himself?”
They didn’t understand. Jesus didn’t come to save Himself. He came to save others. And that’s exactly what He was doing on the cross.
Will you accept His death was for you?
I’ll see you later. Wade