THE LAST SUPPER
As we continue our study in the Gospel according to Mark, we are looking at the last supper, the last meal Jesus was going to share with His disciples in His physical body before His death and resurrection. Now to keep things in perspective lets look at what has taken place so far, and that will lead us to the institution of communion, which will be the focus of our study this evening.
THE ORDER OF THE PASSOVER MEAL
1. The cup of sanctification.
2. The first hand washing.
3. Parsley or lettuce dipped in salt water and eaten.
4. Breaking of bread which speaks of their affliction in Egypt - middle piece of bread broken and a small piece eaten.
5. Story of their deliverance - what Passover is all about.
6. They would sing Psalms 113 and 114.
7. The second cup of wine which spoke of their freedom from bondage.
8. They would all wash for the preparation of the meal.
9. Bitter herbs between 2 pieces of unleavened bread and dipped in sop. It is after this that Judas leaves. We are told in John 13:30, "Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night."
10. Meal proper eaten, the whole lamb.
11. Hands cleansed.
And this is where we will pick up our study this evening as Jesus prepares to institute communion with His disciples.
1. The unleavened bread that they ate in Egypt on that first Passover night spoke of the haste they were in as they prepared to leave Egypt. But now it pointed to what Jesus was going to do and now has done, giving His body to hang on the cross of calvary.
2. After the bread was eaten they would have a prayer, as they awaited for the return of Elijah the prophet. Now the question we must ask ourselves is "Why where they waiting for Elijah?" Because the Old Testament prophet, Malachi spoke as the Lord said to him, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:5-6. So at the Passover meal they prayed and even left a vacant seat for the return of Elijah, even checking the door to see if he is there, for when he comes, the Messiah will follow.
3. Then they drank the third cup of wine or the cup of blessing. And with this cup the Lord instituted communion. The wine no longer symbolizes the blood of the lamb, but now the blood of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world! In fact, Paul tells us in I Corinthians 10:16, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" Now the disciples of Jesus had done these things each Passover, but Jesus is going to show them what this is all about.
1. You see, with the shedding of Christs blood came our redemption from sin. It is as Hebrews 9:12-14 tells us, "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" You see, for the Jew, the sacrifice of an animal covered their sins for a time, but they could never take away their sins completely. But God became flesh and was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. It is as John the Baptist said in John 1:29, "...Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
2. We as Christians, many times, take that for granted. But for the Jew, nothing could take away their sins and yet, Psalm 103:12 tells us, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Also, in Isaiah 43:25 we are told, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins." That is what Jesus has done for us, cast all of our sins away, as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered no more! And what does that cause us to do? Praise the Lord!
3. In Luke we are told that Jesus desired to eat this Passover meal with His men and so it is important we understand what this is all about because many have made it into some strange ritual instead of what the Lord intended it to mean.
4. In the Roman Catholic Church they say that the bread and wine actually turn into the body and blood of Christ, and as you are eating and drinking you are eating and drinking Christ. They call it Transubstantiation. The problem is that is not what the Scriptures teach. In fact that idea is in direct opposition to what the Scriptures teach.
5. In John chapter 6 Jesus speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. And when some of His disciples heard this they left, they thought this was barbaric. If fact, it bothered them so much they left Jesus and followed Him no more. But, in John 6:63 Jesus explains Himself when He says "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."
In other words, it is not the physical eating of Jesus, but taking Him in spiritually. It is reading Gods Word and applying it to your life. We are to allow Jesus to have control of our life as we partake of His Word. And, in a mystical way, communion is symbolic of that, becoming one with the Lord. It is not His actual body and blood, but it is important as we partake that we remember what it cost the Lord for us to share in this communion, HIS LIFE!
6. Now the word that Jesus used for "covenant" is important. One Greek word for "covenant" is SYNTHEKE, and this speaks of a deal or arrangement or a contract made by two people, both playing an equal part in this contract. That is not the word that Jesus used here. He used the Greek word DIATHEKE which is a deal or arrangement or a contract based on one party, and here it speaks of God.
7. You see, this new covenant is not based upon the faithfulness of man, but of God. And that tells me we cant do anything to gain our salvation and we cant do anything to lose our salvation. It is a free gift of God. All we must do is receive it by faith. Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." I take great comfort in knowing that for if my salvation was dependant upon my faithfulness, my goodness, I would be in trouble, and so would you! But since it is not, I can love the Lord knowing that He first loved me, and He loved me so much He died for me so that I could live, and so could you!
8. The law is good the problem is we are not and thus we could never keep the law of God. If any would like to try, good luck! The reason I say that is James tells us "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." Have anyone of you lied, cheated, coveted, thought unclean things? Of course you have or else you are a liar! And if you blow it with just one of the laws, you are guilty of the entire law!
You see, the law could only point us to the Savior, Jesus Christ. Even in the Old Testament we see God speak of a new covenant that was to come. And the Old Testament saints waited, by faith, for the coming of the Messiah, they were never justified by the law, but their faith, as we are, only we have the Messiah today and they looked forward to His coming. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 we are told of this new covenant. We read, "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD, for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jesus is establishing that the new covenant is found and established in His blood and not based upon the faithfulness of man, which he can not be faithful, he can not keep the law. But it is based upon the faithfulness of God, which He will keep!
1. After this they would sing Psalms 115-118. And then they would drink the fourth cup or the cup of joy. But Jesus did not drink from the fourth cup but He will drink it in heaven during the marriage supper of the Lamb, as the body of Christ is joined together with the Lord. In Revelation 19:7-9 we read of this feast, it says "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God." The reason Jesus did not drink from this cup is the church had not begun, and the church had not be gathered unto Him, but one day we will and we will feast with Him and we all will share in that cup of joy!
1. Many believe Jesus sang Psalm 118 as they were coming out of the city of Jerusalem, out the east gate of the temple, through the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. And this area in the garden was an area that Jesus probably went to frequently for Judas knew where to find Him. In Johns Gospel this period of walking out of the temple area to the Mount of Olives covers chapters 15-17 and it is packed with love and information from the Lord as He prepares to go to the cross. He speaks of our relationship with Him, our relationship with others, our relationship to the world, the promise of the Holy Spirit, His death and resurrection, we see Jesus praying for Himself, Praying for His disciples and for all believers, you and me! And I encourage you to read over this section and see the love that God has for you.
2. Also, listen to what Peter has to tell us in I Peter 2:21-25. We read, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-- by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."
That is what the Lord has done for us, bore our sins, made us righteous in Him, and He is calling us to be an example to those that are in the world, to be like Him, let His love, His unconditional love come flowing through us! As Peter said, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." I Peter 3:18.
3. Let me leave you this evening with this true story that deals with this idea of what are you willing to do for a friend?
Former U.S. Naval Academy quarterback and active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bruce Bickel shares this story illustrating the willingness of one to die for a friend.
Bruce tells a story of his days in Vietnam, just before the 68 Tet offensive. After some 9000 civilians were slaughtered by the enemy at Hue, American forces recaptured the city and set up orphanages. One of these orphanages was shelled by the Vietcong, and an eight-year old boy was severely wounded. Bruce rushed the boy by jeep to a medical center, where the doctors determined that the boy needed a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, there was no one at the medical center who had the right type of blood, not even Bruce himself. So Bruce jumped in the jeep and raced back to the orphanage. Running inside, he explained to the children that the injured child needed a transfusion and asked for a volunteer to donate blood.
Nine-year-old Hai raised his hand. "Me," he said, "I give."
"Good boy!" Bruce said, ushering the boy back out to the jeep. Together, they raced over the bumpy, rutted road to the medical center. The doctors put the boy on a gurney and began extracting blood. Hai began to cry.
"Does it hurt?" Bruce asked.
The boy shook his head.
"Are you scared?"
Hai nodded - then asked, "Sir, how long will it take me to die?"
This little boy didnt understand blood transfusions. He thought he was giving all of his blood so that his friend could live. It made him scared, it made him cry - but he was willing to do this for his friend. He understood what it was like to be selfless. He reached the heights and plumbed the depths of unselfishness.
Pat Williams, The Magic of Teamwork
That is what Christ as done for each of us. He voluntarily laid down His life so that we can live. May we not forget that!