On this last night prior to His arrest, Jesus left the crowds. He focused instead on the disciples, spending time with them, and continuing to equip them. They shared the Passover meal together, and during the meal, He gave it new meaning. Or rather, He showed what the true meaning of what God’s redemption meal had been all along. It was the Lord’s Supper. Then after the meal He prayed, with His soul “very sorrowful, even to death.” On this night, Jesus knew the full weight of what lay ahead. But He also knew the reason why He must go. He went out of love for the Father, and out of love for the sinners for whom He would die. With that framework in mind, read this larger portion of Scripture and then return to the focused passage for a time of reflection.
THURSDAY, APRIL 18th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Matthew 26:6 - 26:56
Focused Passage for Reflection - Matthew 26:17 - 29
Reflecting on the Text:
For Jesus, it was important to be with His disciples and to eat this meal together. This meal was the Passover meal. It was a meal of celebration for the Jewish people as they looked back on the time when God had saved them, and most likely as they longed for Him to save them again.
Jesus, of course, knew this. He knew their longing. He also knew that a better salvation was at hand. He knew His time was at hand. As the meal progressed, He dropped that bomb onto the table, declaring the presence of His betrayer. He knew it. He had ordained it. Yet He still gave the warning, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” Though Judas betrayed, he would not catch the King of Kings off guard. No, Jesus went willingly…for us.
But why the Passover meal? What made it so meaningful? It was the meal given by God to commemorate His work of redemption in Egypt. On that night, long ago, God told the people of Israel to sacrifice a lamb, and then to spread the blood of the lamb over their doorposts. That night, and every year after, they were to eat the lamb as a remembrance of God’s saving work. Because that night, there was death in Egypt. In every household, the firstborn died, unless the lamb died in his place. Where the blood of the lamb was shed as a substitute, the Lord passed over.
Do you see now the beauty of what Jesus did next? He took the Passover meal and showed its true meaning. He gave the bread, telling them it was His body. He gave the wine, telling them it was His blood. He is the substitute. He is the sacrificial lamb. He is the One who died in our place. You see, when it comes to our bondage to the sin, it is not merely the first born who dies. All of us will die in our sin, unless a substitute is offered in our place. Jesus is the substitute. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb. But He doesn’t tell us to wipe His blood over the doorpost. No. It is by His grace that we are saved. Instead, we cry out to Him in faith, trusting in His life, and in His death.
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, this is the redemption we celebrate. It is also the redemption we anticipate, looking to the day when we will celebrate the meal in full, around Jesus’ table in the Father’s kingdom.
Questions for personal reflection:
From this text, what do we learn about the person of Jesus and the priorities of Jesus?
What does this text stir inside of you? Does it stir a hunger and thirst for Jesus?
How might this passage, read this day, impact you the next time you come to the Lord’s Table?