There are two great rescue stories in the Bible that stand out from the rest. The greatest, of course, is the story of how Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to rescue the world from sin. The other is the story of the Exodus, where God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. With powerful plagues and mighty miracles, God completely wiped out the army of Egypt and brought his people out of their land of bondage.
God never wanted his people to forget the most important night of that rescue from Egypt. So he gave them instructions for a special supper to eat. This “memory meal” was called the Passover. The Israelite people ate special foods, drank special drinks, and said and did special things. Each and every part of the meal was a reminder of important details about their rescue from Egypt.
God commanded the Israelite people to celebrate the Passover Meal every year. So when God the Son was born as Jesus the Israelite, he joined in this 1,500-year-old family tradition. He ate this memory meal with his people each year of his life. In fact, the very last meal Jesus ate before he died was the Passover! And during that last supper with his disciples, he did something pretty incredible.
Luke 22:19-22 gives us the details of that dinner. “And he (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”
For 1,500 years, the Israelites had eaten the Passover Meal. And as they ate that meal, they talked about and remembered how God had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. The flat bread of Passover was designed by God to be a picture of how quickly they had to leave Egypt, so fast that they couldn’t even finish making their fluffy bread. And as they drank different cups of wine, they remembered the different things God spoke to them that special night, as well as the wine-colored blood of a lamb that was spread on the posts of their doors.
But during his last supper with his disciples, Jesus basically told them, “I want you to eat this meal to remember me!” Now, it might seem crazy to take a meal that’s supposed to be about God and instead make it about you! But it’s perfectly fine to do such a bold thing when you are, in fact, the Son of God! As his disciples ate the Passover bread, Jesus said, “This is my body.” And as they drank the wine, he said, “This is my blood.”
Jesus changed the memory meal of the Passover into a brand-new memory meal! We call it the Lord’s Supper because the Lord Jesus gave it to us. And like the Passover, it’s a meal Jesus wanted his disciples to do often, over and over, to remember the story of their amazing rescue from sin. In the next two questions, we’ll look more closely at who is supposed to share the Lord’s Supper, what they are supposed to eat and drink, and what each part of that memory meal means.