And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” (Mark 14:22 ESV)
The Book of Exodus records the remarkable story of God’s deliverance. The children of Israel were held captive in Egypt. God reigned his judgment through plagues, reserving the worst for the end. This terrible plague would kill the firstborn son of all those in Egypt. However, to preserve his people from such judgment, God prescribed that the blood of a sacrificed lamb be sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses of the children of Israel. Every house with this blood would be “passed over.” For generations after this miracle, the Jewish people would remember the Passover with a special meal.
Mark 14 positions Christ and his disciples in Jerusalem during the Passover season. It is crowded and abuzz with joy and anticipation. Jesus, the faithful Jew that he was, desired to eat the Passover with his disciples, and he ensures that they are able to do so, privately and out of harm’s way, in an upper room. This meal – often called the Last Supper – would be the final intimate moment that Jesus would share with his closest followers.
During the meal, Jesus reveals how the Passover points to him and what he is about to do. The bread stands for his body. The wine stands for his blood. The symbols point to the new covenant that God promised would come. Today, millions of believers still commemorate this covenant with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, also called communion or the eucharist.
The meal isn’t only about celebrating, however. Jesus also reveals that one of the twelve will betray him, all the disciples will scatter, and Peter will deny him. How sobering! The friends with which he enjoyed his last meal would be the ones who would forsake him!
One thing this whole episode teaches us is that Jesus has it all under control and that he looks forward to the future. Yes, a disciple will betray him, but this would be so he can pour out his blood for the many. Yes, his followers will abandon him, but they will all meet him again in Galilee after he rises. Yes, Peter will deny him, but he will be converted and strengthen his brethren. Yes, Jesus will drink the cup of God’s wrath, but he will rise, ascend, and drink again with his people in God’s kingdom!
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world has poured out his blood to save his people from judgment. The striking thing for us is this: Jesus knew that they would all betray him and leave him alone to die, and yet, he invited them to a meal anyway. Jesus knows all of our sins, but he invited you to come and dine anyway.