Why are his words and remembering this meal so important?
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Matthew 26)
Jesus gave his disciples a simple way to remember his death. When they ate bread and drank wine in the future it could remind them that Jesus died to create a new covenant (agreement) between us and God. This is celebrated in churches in a service called Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or Mass. I often wonder if these services are really what Jesus primarily had in mind? Perhaps Jesus really meant that whenever we eat and drink (wherever we are) then we should remember him?
We remember that Jesus sacrificed his life in our place so that our sins could be forgiven. As my kids would say,
Our sin separates us from God, but Jesus who was perfect and sinless died in our place so that we don’t have to face the consequences of our sin which includes eternal separation from God. An innocent and blameless person died that we might be freed from our sin.
Jesus and his disciples were eating a Passover meal at which the Jews remembered the way that God had rescued their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. As they celebrated the greatest moment of freedom in their history, Jesus took a part of that meal to help them to understand and remember the way in which God wants to rescue all people from slavery to sin.
Have you ever had someone give you a gift that is really, really, generous? What do you instinctively say?
That’s too much?
I don’t know what to say?
This was one of those moments, but how did the disciples respond?
They began to argue about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22.24), how sad is that? Jesus humbles himself and offers himself as a sacrifice but his so called friends focus on themselves and in particular, who is the best disciple.
Jesus then talks with them about how they would all turn away from him, including Peter who kept insisting that he would never deny Jesus.
Jesus was shortly going to die to save the very people who were going to let him down.
At this meal, Jesus washed his disciples feet as an act of service and love. He washed the feet of the disciples that were about to let him down and he even washed the feet of Judas who was going to betray him. Jesus shows amazing, love, grace and acceptance to someone who is basically making himself his enemy.
Jesus is very clear that his betrayer is at the meal and this is a reminder that loving other people doesn’t mean that we hide from the truth of who they are. It’s okay to be honest with people when they wind us up but the challenge of Jesus is to move beyond that wound upedness and to love them and to treat them well. In this action of love, our attitude towards them will shift from them being a person who is a nuisance to us seeing them as someone who is precious to God, who he loves and is trying to transform.
Will we let God’s love fill us so much that it consumes us, driving out our anger, resentment and bitterness? Will we allow God’s love to overflow out to those around us?
Shortly before this meal Jesus talked about the future. He had warned his disciples that the future was going to be tough and that the world was going to be a difficult place to live but he also went on to say that one day that he would return. He reminded them of this again at the end of this meal, that he wouldn’t drink wine again until he was with them in his Father’s Kingdom.
Jesus wants us to know that although there are tough times ahead, that one day he will return and make everything new and we will live with him forever.
Jesus is also reminding us that after our ultimate future as his followers is to live with him. Our existence will not be as disembodied spirits (we will drink wine), instead we will live together with Christ on a new Earth which he will create and there will be no more sin, death, crying or pain (Revelation 21.4).
Once, a man was going away on a long journey and he left a friend to house sit for them. Their friend was obsessed with cleanliness and so he knew that his house would be clean on his return. As he was about to leave, he reminded his house sitting friend to water the plants. The plants were his prized possessions and he couldn’t stress enough how important it was to remember to water and to care for them. He left for a long journey and many years later he returned to a sparkly clean house. He walked into his home and everything was perfect apart from the plants which had died.
What is the most important thing?
Jesus gave us an everyday reminder of food and drink to constantly remind us that he is our saviour and that he died to save us.
If this is the most important thing, why would we focus on anything else more than this?
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Throughout this week, I’ll be writing a series of blogs called ‘What is it all about?’ that help us to think about the events that led up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.