Summary: Jesus' Passover with the disciples in Luke 22:7-20 teaches us about the institution of the Lord's Supper.
Jesus was in the vicinity of Jerusalem on Thursday, Nisan 14, 30 AD. Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps as many as two million people, were in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. They were there to celebrate the Passover (on Nisan 14), which was followed by the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-21). Jesus knew that he was about to die, and so he made preparations to celebrate the Passover with his disciples and also institute the Lord’s Supper.
Let’s read about Jesus’ Passover with his disciples in Luke 22:7-20:
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:7-20)
In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke Dr. Philip Ryken notes that in America a person condemned to die is allowed to select and eat a special meal before execution. What a prisoner eats and drinks is often published because people want to know what the condemned criminal chose to eat and drink before dying.
We could ask the same question about Jesus. He too was about to be condemned to die, and he had one last meal on Thursday evening before dying the next day. In a very intentional way Jesus chose to have a Passover meal as his last meal with his disciples. A few hours after eating the Passover meal Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and arrested. By early Friday morning Jesus had endured four kangaroo trials, mocking, abuse, a denial by Peter, and a Roman flogging that almost killed him. Jesus was then crucified before noon, dead by late afternoon, and buried before sundown.