Story 8: Sacrifice in the Last Supper
In this series, Every Meal is a Story, we are looking at stories in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus breaks bread with all sorts of folks where they live in order to teach simple truth. In stories 8-10, Jesus reveals his identity through the symbol of sacrifice in the last supper, in the Scriptures about the Messiah, and by showing his humans scars in risen glory.
Read Luke 22:7-23
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.Luke 22:7-13
Any great dinner invitation involves a flurry of preparation. A good friend of ours was leaving to settle in Canada and called wanting to say goodbye. Honored and wanting to honor, I invited him along with mutual friends over for a special chicken curry dinner. The shopping, marinating, chopping, cleaning, table-setting and cooking process took two days. But the main event was the loving, sharing, welcoming, and sending off that took place around the table.
Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare the most important dinner of their life. He had already chosen a special place in a large, furnished upper room to be the setting of their last meal together. The meal included the shopping and cooking of lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. With the preparations taken care of, the “hour came” and everyone was seated around Jesus. Reclining at the table and most likely looking into each face, Jesus said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Jesus’ great love was expressed in his passion to spend time over a beautifully prepared meal that allowed quality time to share the sacrifice of his life for their place in the kingdom of God.
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.Luke 22: 14-20
Then Jesus picks up a loaf of unleavened bread remembering the redemption of lamb’s blood, the miracle of the Passover. He intentionally breaks it, an essential brokenness, and offers it saying, “This is my body which is given for you.” Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)
IMAGINE. Great artists and preachers have reimagined and replayed this scene in memory of this last meal around the table with Jesus. Take a moment to imagine yourself setting up the details, preparing the special foods, and then being present at this meal, in a nicely appointed room where you set the table, arranged the centerpiece and then took your place at the table filled with meat, bread, and wine. Imagine everyone you know is there, crowding around the center wanting to sit closest to the Master, leaning in for every word.
REFLECT. At lunch with friends this week, the waitress brought a large loaf of bread to share, but forgot the bread knife. Since she was busy with other tables, I picked up the hot loaf and broke off large pieces. The result was rough and messy, but the brokenness was shared as a gift of life.
In the days after Jesus’ return to heaven, his followers must have remembered preparing and eating this meal, and finally recognized that this last supper was Jesus’ anticipation of the sacrifice of his life symbolized in the broken bread. Think through what the “broken” bread of sacrifice looks like for you this week.
PRACTICE. Break some Bread. Jesus emphasized that the preparation of this meal was “for us” and how much he wanted to eat “with you (all).” What “preparations” are you making to offer loving hospitality and a place at the table for others?
In times when sharing the Lord’s Supper together are restricted, talk with your community about celebrating communion in your homes or online together. “Let’s have a meal. Let me reveal who I am.” Communion Song, Jonathan Stockstill.