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
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