The Memorial Supper
The disciples would "come together upon the first day of the week to break bread"

By Jon W. Quinn
For 1400 years the Israelite nation had kept the Passover with varying degrees of faithfulness. During the lifetime of Jesus, the yearly Passover was a very important holiday to the Jews. Most of them went to great lengths to make sure they observed it properly in accordance with the Law of God as given through Moses to Israel. They remembered how that God had mightily delivered them from cruel slavery in Egypt. They recalled how the avenging angel had "passed over" their homes striking only those belonging to their Egyptian captors. It was on this very solemn occasion that Jesus appointed that a memorial supper be observed by His disciples in His honor after His departure. Faithful disciples still keep the supper in remembrance of what He has done for us and proclaiming faith in what He has promised for our future.

Jesus’ Last Passover
"Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus saying, 'Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" (Matthew 26:17). Actually, the feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover are not identical. The Passover lasted one evening and coincided with the first day of the week of the feast of Unleavened Bread. During this time, all leavening agents were removed and the bread eaten was unleavened. This signified the rapidity of Israel's flight from Egypt 14 centuries before. They had had no time to allow the bread to rise then, and this was remembered yearly by eating only unleavened bread during this week.

Jesus knew that His death was imminent. Jesus had said, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion" (Matthew 26:2). Jesus uses the Passover ritual symbolizing an ancient deliverance to symbolize a brand new thing; God's act to deliver us from sin.

On that ancient Egyptian night centuries before, God's enslaved people had been instructed to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the door posts of their houses. Upon seeing the blood of the lamb the angel would pass over that house and not strike anyone inside. Do you see how this ancient symbol
predicted what Jesus would do for us? Jesus has become our Passover Lamb and by His blood we are saved from eternal death!

Jesus and His apostles observed the Passover in an upper room of a private dwelling in Jerusalem. They ate the Passover meal which consisted of lamb, herbs, unleavened bread and fruit of the vine as the beverage, which would be drunk from one of four cups placed upon the table. It was during this feast that Judas left and went to Jesus' enemies in order to betray him.

The Lord Institutes a New Memorial
"And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.' And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus took two of entrees on the Passover menu and used them to institute a new observance. His disciples were told to "do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). Certainly it bothered His apostles to hear Him talk this way. They refused to accept that He was shortly to die. And yet, He knew what was about to transpire and do not ever doubt it; it was weighing very heavily upon His heart. He was hurting inside. He was "sorrowful unto death" and "sorely grieved". But He knew what had to be done and He would be the one to do it. In fact, He was the only one that could have.

The Memorial Supper and You, His Disciple
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly" (I Corinthians 11:26-29). As disciples partake of the Lord's supper, they are proclaiming to others that the Lord died for them. This proclamation is to continue "until He comes". He is coming again!

Christians partake of this memorial with a multitude of emotions; some of them opposites of one another. There is joy that God would love us so much. There is sorrow at Jesus' suffering due to our sins. There is love for God. There is hatred of sin. There is confidence in the power of God. There is humility in the recognition that we did not deserve such a rich gift. There is concern for the lost. There is awe that the Creator of the worlds would ever shout the forlorn cry: "It is finished"!

To disciples, the unleavened bread reminds us of the battered body of our Savior hanging on that savage cross. Never break the bread of the supper without giving careful thought to that fact and its many ramifications to your own life, soul and eternity. The cup reminds us of the blood that poured from the many wounds, trickling down to the ground beneath the cross. That blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. Only in the blood is there power to cleanse from sins. It is our hope and plea.

In the first century, the gospel was preached and souls were won to Christ. In accordance with the doctrine of Christ, disciples of the first century would gather together to worship on the first day of every week. Upon this day they would partake of the bread and cup just as Jesus had said. They would "come together upon the first day of the week to break bread" (Acts 20:7). Disciples seek for and find renewal in this weekly observance today even as they did in the first century. There is no good reason to change the time or frequency of the Lord's Supper. It is much too important. It is a relevant and needed part of the disciple's first day of the week “until He comes".

From The Bradley Banner 7/1/2012
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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