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April 21

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15 He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ 17 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ 19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,  ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 20 And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:14-20

It is the first full moon after the spring equinox, and with the first three stars now visible in the sky, all Jerusalem knows it is time for the Passover meal to begin. As the full silvered orb rises slowly over the Mount of Olives to the east, Jesus also knows that his long awaited time has come. It is time for the Lamb of God to offer up his life as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.

A few days earlier, on Palm Sunday, at the so-called Triumphal Entry, Jesus presented himself as Messiah and the Passover Lamb. But the swelling crowds that day were set on a political messiah, and uncaring that the Lamb of God had come to them.

Now on this his final night, Jesus takes the elements of the Passover meal, the bread and the wine, and invests them with new meaning. This last meal that he shares with his closest friends will become the Lord’s Supper. Jesus takes the bread, the unleavened bread of Passover, gives thanks, breaks the bread, and gives to his friends to eat. The Greek word used for Jesus’ “giving thanks” is eucharisteo, and so this meal has ever since been called “The Eucharist. As we eat and drink we are giving thanks to the Lord for what he has done.

It is the Apostle Paul who tells us that the cup of wine Jesus gave to his friends was “the cup after supper” (I Corinthians 11:25). This prescribed, after supper cup, was called “The Cup of Redemption.” With his words and actions Jesus is carefully linking his cross with redemption history, the Exodus Passover out of the bondage of Egypt.

But on this night Jesus does something that is not a part of the prescribed Passover ritual. Jesus says: “This is my body which is given for you.” He makes clear that the bread that is broken and the cup that is poured out, is “for you.” On the cross Jesus is acting on our behalf. Jesus does not have to die. Death is not forced upon him. Jesus willingly lays down his life “for” us.

While Christians may differ on the full meaning of Jesus’ words, “This is my body,” this one thing is clear: we must in faith personally partake of Jesus. We do not just stare at the bread, debate it, or admire it. We eat it! Each of us in faith must eat the bread and feed on Christ our Savior.

Jesus bids us do this, “in remembrance of him.” We will never forget what Jesus has done for us! We will remember him!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

– St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded


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