Knowing the time of his betrayal and death drew near, what did Jesus do? He sat down to have one last meal with his disciples, a Passover meal.
The symbols Jesus used at that meal were common to Passover. This Passover bread was called the Bread of Affliction. Unleavened bread represented the affliction Israel endured as slaves in Egypt and their haste in leaving. Jesus gives this bread a new level of meaning. He would soon be severely afflicted by the breaking of his body to deliver his people from the greater slavery of sin (Matthew 26:26; Romans 8:2).
As many as four cups were partaken during the Passover feasts of Jesus’ time. Jesus gives the cup a new level of meaning. He says, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).”
At the foot of Mount Sinai, Moses first read the Book of the Covenant to the people of Israel. After the people said they would do all the words the LORD had spoken, many offerings were sacrificed. Half the blood was thrown against the altar. The other half was put in a basin. (This next part may seem gruesome to us, but made sense to them.) They took the basin of blood and sprinkled it on the people. By pouring half the blood at the altar, it was as if God himself were saying that if he broke that covenant with the people – which he would never – the blood guilt would be on him. By sprinkling themselves with the other half, the people were saying that if they broke that covenant with God, the blood guilt would be on them. (Exodus 24:3-8)
Jesus was inaugurating a new covenant, one sealed in no one else’s blood but his own. He would pay for people’s sin with his own precious blood (Matthew 26:28; 1 Peter 1:19).
Yet, there is more. Jesus 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 (Matthew 26:29).” A future feast awaits those who believe. At the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, believers will say, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).”
Jesus physical companionship with his disciples would be broken soon. Physically, Jesus remains absent on earth, as he now sits at God’s right hand, interceding for us and communicating his presence through the Holy Spirit. Someday Christ will return to consummate his covenant and marry his people, and we will feast like never before. What a foretaste of a sweeter meal to come the Lord Supper offers us.