A Look Back at the Last Supper

Dear BPCWA worshipper, This is a precious week in the Christian calendar. While the Easter weekend does not mark the actual dates of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we set a yearly reminder in commemoration of Christ’s sufferings, death, burial, and bodily resurrection to complete the work of salvation. On Friday, we will be having the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper. Though it is something that we have every month and familiar to most, I want to bring us back to the night when the Lord’s Supper was first instituted by our Lord at the last supper Christ had with His Apostles.

The significance. It was the night of the last Passover and the twelve Apostles, “as he had said unto them . . . made ready the passover” (Lu 22:13). The Passover, instituted by God for the Israelites, was a memorial (Ex 12:14). This was a significant meal that God commanded them to partake of while they hasted to leave Egypt after God passed over the houses whose doorposts were sprinkled with the blood of the Passover lamb. The Passover was not a mere ritual to the believing Jews. They awaited the Messiah, who right from the early history of mankind, had been promised to come to bruise the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). In the Old Testament, a spotless lamb “without blemish” was required for the Passover (Exod 12:5). It pointed to the atonement that was accomplished by Christ. Did the OT Jews know the name “Christ”? Well, yes and no. No is simply because they wouldn’t at that point in time know Greek, which is where the word “Christ” comes from. However, the Jews knew of the Messiah with absolute certainty, which was why John the Baptiser would exclaim when he saw his cousin “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Joh 1:29). As would be familiar to the Jews and good students of God’s Word today, the Hebrew word “Messiah” simply means “anointed”. So, the awaited Messiah would be “The Anointed One”. When Christ came, the Jews were living under Roman rule. Greek was the common language used even by the Jews. When they heard the name “Christ” (which is simply Greek for “The Anointed One”), they would relate it to the awaited Messiah. The last Passover supper was in a “large upper room furnished” (Lu 22:12) which the Apostles had to ask “the goodman of the house” (Lu 22:11) for use. In what may be one of their last acts of personal service to their Master while He remained with them, the Apostles “made ready the passover” (Mr 14:16). “As they sat and did eat”, we see the heart of resolution and love of our Lord. He forewarned them that “Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me” (Mr 14:18). Among those gathered and who ate the last Passover with the Saviour was the unregenerate traitor whose heart the omniscient Christ knew. Despite knowing the upcoming unspeakable sufferings, our Lord Jesus never abandoned the mission God gave Him even at the last supper. His love even for the traitor, who refused Christ in the depths of his heart, is seen clearly as He treated Judas with honour at the meal and warned him of his sin. But Judas would not repent and turn to Christ for salvation even at this point. Christ knew that this night “the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me” (Joh 13:18). Satan would bruise Christ’s heel, but Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection “shall bruise thy head” (Ge 3:15). The Passover which looked forward to the coming of the Messiah would now be replaced by the Lord’s Supper. Hence, the Lord said “ . . . This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me . . . This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Lu 22:19-20). For the Apostles present, their Master who sat among them, serving them the bread and the cup, was making it very clear to them how He would be offering His own body and shedding His blood for the redemption of man very soon. Henceforth, all whom the Lord saves will continue to have a memorial of His sacrifice through the Holy Communion as He instructed, “in remembrance of me” (Lu 22:19). The Passover was past, and the Lord’s Supper instituted in its stead.

Our response. What a poignant scene we have just visited. It must surely evoke in us a response of great sadness to read of the betrayal of our beloved Saviour. How Christ must have felt, but yet how He continued to love. His thoughts were still for the lost, not of His own coming sufferings. At the same time, it must stir in us the deepest gratitude towards our Lord. For man in all ages, salvation by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, was fulfilled. But at an infinite price. Moreover, even as we look back at the last supper, what else should we learn from it? 1) Salvation offered but rejected. Sitting with the other 11 Apostles was one who would sit with the others, and even allowed his foot to be washed by the Lord, but despite all this would leave the supper to betray His Lord for 30 pieces of silver. Even today, the church remains mixed with believers and unbelievers, just like at the Lord’s table that night “. . . ye are clean, but not all” (Joh 13:10). I pray that none would come to the Lord’s table each month without a careful searching of the heart once and for all. Are there any in our midst, hearing the same words preached to them offering salvation, perhaps even calling Christ “Master and Lord”, who would in their hearts choose the lure of the temporal world and its attractions over the Saviour? This is the thorny ground that Christ warns of in the parable of the sower and the seed, which “are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Lu 8:14). Despite their initial profession, the thorny ground represents unbelievers who do not endure nor have the genuine fruit of Christian life. Don’t be in this group that trades the eternal on the altar of the temporal, when “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1Jo 2:17). Please do not be so foolish to think that you’re a Christian when you are merely paying lip service to Christ with no intent nor desire in your heart to have Him rule your life. 2) Respond to the love of Christ.  Having a last supper with any man is a touching scene. But this goes beyond “any man”. At centre stage is God incarnate. The God whom the angels of heaven worship, serve, and love. He is the joy of heaven.  What Christ says is also the expression of God’s very heart. His very words are the declaration of God’s thoughts and emotions (Joh 1:18) towards man. Here was God whose control and foreknowledge determined how they would find and secure the room for the Passover. The God who would move the heart of the goodman of the house to supply the room. Despite knowing how His disciples had bickered for superiority over one another but would flee from Him in His hour of need, we are still told that “before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (Joh 13:1). So, Christ’s His love was not a mere fluffy emotional one. Moreover, that love was instructive. That they too, after having witnessed His persecution and being faced with persecution themselves, would continue to fulfill the Father’s purpose after His death. He stirs them that “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (Joh 13:20). God’s love will sustain you through what He has laid out for you. Never exchange the deep, deep love of God for the cheap, trite acceptance of the world. It was love that brought Him to the cross for you and me. It must be love for Christ, who first loved us, that will sustain you to the end to do His will.

What is Christ’s love to you? Here is the very ruler of the universe, who “took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body” (Mt 26:26). He would give Himself, allow His body to be broken, blood to be shed to fulfill God’s salvation plan. Is it too much to give up our little pleasures, accept the inconveniences, resist your lusts, endure that hardness, and live your life for your God who has loved you so? Does the call of the world sound more endearing than the call of love of your Saviour? “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Heb 12:4). Let us remember this tender scene of our Lord Jesus Christ and be strengthened when we are “wearied and faint in your minds” (Heb 12:3). Or will you still argue that a life lived only for Christ is “too strict and restrictive”? How can one, after knowing that the King of Glory suffered, bled, and died alone for him, yet find returning one’s life in love and devotion to be asking too much and even say it is not necessary? I wonder how the Lord feels when He sees this in our hearts.

Despite the rejection, pain, and suffering that He was fully aware would be coming upon Him soon, the heart of our Saviour never wavered in His love for us. May this Good Friday commemoration cause us to reconsecrate ourselves to love Him more firmly, especially where we have failed. May we not flinch when we are called to be partakers of His reproaches. His love was evidenced by His life. May our declarations of love also be glaringly evident by how we live for our Saviour.

I suffered much for thee, More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony, To rescue thee from hell;
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, What hast thou borne for Me?

Yours in our Lord’s service,