The Lord’s Supper was the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples. When they ate this meal, Jesus was establishing the new covenant. Unfortunately the Lord’s Supper has been reduced to a sip of grape juice and the taste of a cracker, but this is not how Jesus and the disciples shared their last meal. I would like to teach you a few of the traditions of a Passover Seder, so you can recognize them in the story of the last supper.
Passover begins at sundown and the Passover meal (called the Seder meal) is eaten that night. During this meal, the participants eat from a Seder plate, which contains the following foods: shank bone (a piece of roasted meat representing the lamb), bitter herbs (usually horseradish to point to bitterness of slavery), charoset (chopped nuts, apples and cinnamon), parsley or lettuce (dipped into salt water which represents tears), hard-boiled egg (represents the holiday offering brought to the temple). The salt water is not on the Seder plate, but is placed in a bowl next to the plate. A plate of 3 matzos (unleavened bread) is placed somewhere on the table. Each person attending the meal will be given a Haggadah, which is a book containing the order of the Seder meal. Eating the meal and reading through the Haggadah will take from about 3 1/2 – 4 hours.
During this meal, each person drinks 4 cups of wine, which represent the following scripture verse: “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD‘ “ Exodus 6:6-8 (NKJV). Each of these 4 cups of wine have a special meaning taken from this scripture verse. The first cup of wine is called the cup of sanctification, which represents the phrase bring you out in verse six. The second cup is called the cup of deliverance representing the phrase rescue you from verse six. The third cup is called the cup of redemption, which represents the phrase redeem you. The last cup is the cup of restoration, which represents the phrase bring you.
At the end of the meal, the Hallel hymns, which are Psalms 113-118. Now let’s take a look at the Lord’s Supper found in Matthew 26:17-30 and Luke 22:1-22.
In Matthew 26: 19 the disciples prepared a Passover meal to be eaten at the house of one of Jesus’ followers (see verse 18). In verse 23 we see that Jesus tells the disciples who His betrayer will be. He is the one who dipped his hand in the bowl with Jesus. In a traditional Passover meal, this bowl would have been the bowl of salt water, which the parsley or lettuce was dipped. In verse 26, Jesus takes the bread, blessed it and broke it. We know that this bread was unleavened bread, which contains no yeast for rising. Yeast in the Bible represents sin, so Jesus uses a bread with no yeast to represent His body which would be broken.
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV).
Now let’s look for the cups that were shared at the Lord’s Supper meal. We will have to look at the story of Luke to see two of these cups. In Luke 22:17, we see that Jesus takes a cup and gives thanks. He gives this cup to His disciples, but according to verse 18, Jesus does not drink from the cup. This first cup is the cup of sanctification. In Luke 22: 20, Jesus took the cup after they had eaten and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood”. The cup after they had eaten would have been the 3rd cup, which is the cup of redemption. So Jesus used the cup of redemption to announce His redemption for His followers. Now we must skip back to Matthew 26 to see what happens at the end of this meal. In Matthew 26: 30, the meal ends with the singing of a hymn. The hymns sung at the Seder meal are called the Hallel Hymns, which are Psalms 113-118. The last hymn sung is Psalm 118. Notice what the Jews have been singing at the end of their Passover meal for thousands of years.
“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes” Psalm 118:22-23 (NKJV).
When Jesus was in the temple, he even asked the chief priests and elders if they had read this verse (Matt. 21:42). Well of course they had heard this verse, because it is sung at the Seder meal every year. Peter had an opportunity to preach a sermon to the elders, scribes, Annas the high priest and Caiaphas. He tells them that, “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone'” Acts 4:11 (NKJV). All of those listening to this sermon, would have recognized this passage of scripture.
I hope that this post will help you to have a greater appreciation of the Lord’s Supper. The more I study Jewish history and traditions, the better I understand scripture. I have had an opportunity to attend a Seder meal and it was a wonderful learning opportunity.