Summary: For Sunrise Service and communion meditation (Seed thought from John MacArthur at: http://www.gty.org/resources/print/sermons/41-73; Mostly adapted from James Smith's book, The Longest Night In the Bible)
In his book Life Looks Up, Charles Templeton remarks how ironic it is that the course of human history has been affected so positively and negatively by events that have occurred in two small upper rooms. One of them is a drab apartment in London’s Westside, dirty, curtain less, with stacks of articles on the table and worn manuscripts. Seated at a table a man labors over a writing, a writing that would overthrow governments, enslave millions of people, and affect the course of history for several generations. The man: Karl Marx; his writing: Das Kapital, the handbook for the Communist revolution.
But there’s another upper room that also figures in the course of human history: this one located in one of the oldest cities of the world, Jerusalem, and here also there was a table. 13 gather at this table to share a meal and to hear the words of a man whose love and sacrifice would make an eternal impact on human history. Let’s look at one instance from that table that we continue to observe this morning.
Body and expounding of Mark 14:22-28:
In a few minutes we will partake of the Lord’s supper. Want to say a few words about that
Here is a question that causes much debate among Bible scholars. We know that this Passover was supposed to be observed on Friday, but Jesus and his disciples observed it on Thursday. How can this be?
Jesus and his disciples were observing the Passover because Jesus himself referred to the meal as a Passover meal. “And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Luke 22:15, NIV. According to the gospel of John the Passover meal would not be eaten until that Friday evening, which meant that Jesus was dying on the cross at the very time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. How can this be? Did Jesus and his disciples observe their Passover a day too early?
The Passover had so many pilgrims come to Jerusalem and they all needed their lambs sacrificed at the Temple and some of the lamb meat was taken from the Temple to their families and friends to properly observe the Passover. The priests came up with a system where the Galileans sacrificed their lambs on that Thursday and ate them that evening, while the Judeans observed the celebration one day later to accommodate the vast number of sacrifices. Needed two days instead of one. Jesus, a Galilean by upbringing, and his disciples observed the Passover on Thursday evening and Jesus, the final Passover lamb, was sacrificed on Friday, the traditional time of sacrifice. “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7
With this arrangement, Jesus was able to institute the Lord’s Supper, the New Passover, with his disciples and also be the Passover Sacrifice for the whole world without breaking any regulations from the OT.
Passover was a simple memorial. It looked back to the Exodus from Egypt. The final plague was the slaying of the firstborn in every family. The only way that one could avoid the angel of death and killing of their firstborn was to sacrifice a lamb and spread the blood of that lamb on the doorframe. And where the angel of death saw the blood, he Passed over that house.
Deliverance from the wrath of God requires death and requires the death of an innocent substitute. This is what the sacrificial system communicated. No lamb completely satisfied God. Millions of them had been slaughtered through thousands of years. This is the last legitimate Passover because the next day the true Lamb would die, the veil in the temple would be ripped from top to bottom, and the system of sacrifice, the Levitical system would come to its final end. It was not ended by Judas, or Herod, or Caiaphas, or the Jewish leaders, or the Romans, but it was ended by God who offered up His own Son as the perfect sacrifice.
This was not only last Passover, it is the first communion. Our Lord himself makes the transition, taking elements of the last Passover and redefining them as elements of His table.
Vs. 22- All the bread here was of the unleaved kind. At the end of the Passover observance is where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He broke the bread has two parts: one practical and one symbolic. The practical is that he broke it and passed it to his disciples. The symbolic shows the abuse of Christ’s body for us as he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5, NIV. This bread represents his body. By taking and eating this bread we accept Christ as our substitute and sacrifice. We also accept Christ as our Lord and do what he wants us to do as found in the Bible. We must feed upon Christ, his person, his teachings and his promises.