Speaking the Truth in Love

The Last Supper

Eric Welch

[Eric preaches at Hamburg Pike in Jeffersonville, IN.]

When Jewish families commemorated Passover, they drank four cups of wine at intervals. They began the meal with a prayer and a cup. A dish of herbs and sauce was served. The Passover story was told. Psalm 113 was sung, followed by a second cup. After another prayer the main course of lamb and unleavened bread with bitter herbs was served. A third prayer was offered, and the third cup was served. Called “the cup of redemption,” it was a reminder of God’s promise to “redeem you” (Exod. 6:6). Psalms 114-118 were then sung, and the fourth cup of wine was drunk. Called “the cup of consummation,” it symbolized God’s promise to take his people to Canaan (Exod. 6:8).

On the night before his death, Jesus and the Twelve observed Passover and drank a cup before and after he took bread (Luke 22:17-20). The cup mentioned in verse 17 was one of the Passover cups. Then Jesus took what was probably the third cup (“after supper” 1 Cor. 11:25) and used it to institute the Lord’s Supper. Jesus’ words showed that this cup was different from the previous Passover cup. For centuries the Jews kept this festival. They drank the cups of wine, but they never interpreted their contents as a symbol of blood. But this was the cup of redemption. The Bible says, “Likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood'” (v. 20). Jesus is indeed our Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

However, Jesus refused to drink the fourth cup, the cup of consummation, which symbolized God’s bringing his people to himself. So when Christ said, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29), he was promising to return and bring his church home. Jesus said, “I shall never again eat it [the Passover] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16). Jesus left the Last Supper unfinished. At the great marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven (Rev. 19:6-9), we will figuratively finish the meal together! Until then, on the first day of every week “we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

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