Jesus’ Last Supper: Passover and Communion Instructions
Jesus as Passover lamb
Many believers proclaim Jesus (or Yeshua) as the Passover lamb, but it goes far beyond this basic understanding.
The First Passover’s Instructions
The first instructions for the Passover are recorded in Exodus 12 and begin with the lamb. On the 10th day of the first month of the year, a lamb was to be selected, brought home, and inspected for five days to check for blemishes. The lamb had to be perfect. After the killing of the lamb on the 14th of the month, at twilight, the blood was applied to the doorposts of their house. The lamb was then to be roasted over a fire and eaten that night with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Each of these points was significant.
Jesus in Jerusalem
Soon after Jesus entered Jerusalem He spent most of His time being “inspected in God’s house” as the Pharisees and teachers of the Law tried to find fault in Yeshua. After He was arrested and brought before the chief priests, they could not find fault in Him even with false testimonies. Yeshua was then sent to Pilate, and then to Herod, in hopes of having Him condemned to death. The Roman leader confessed several times that he could find nothing wrong with Yeshua. Despite his own words of Yeshua’s’ innocence, Pilate gave in the crowd’s demands and sentenced Him to death. Just like the instructions for the Passover Lamb, Yeshua was tested for blemishes for five days and declared perfect by both Jew and Gentile. Yeshua was killed because He was perfect.
Passover Lamb Instructions
Just like the instructions for the Passover Lamb, Yeshua was tested for blemishes for five days and declared perfect by both Jew and Gentile.
Exodus 12:6 says that the lamb was to be killed at twilight, or “between the evenings.” Ancient Jewish tradition describes this time from when the sun starts to set until it has completely gone down, approximately 3-6 p.m. Mark 15:34-37 says that Yeshua finally died around the ninth hour of the day. The first hour of the day was at sunrise —approximately 6 a.m. This makes the ninth hour around 3 p.m. Yeshua died at the exact time that Passover lambs were being killed at twilight all over Israel, according to Moses’ instructions in Exodus 12:6.
Passover and the Last Supper
Yet, before all of this took place, Yeshua shared a Passover meal with his disciples in what Christians call “the last supper.” This was not a “last meal” before an execution, but the fulfillment of an ancient prophetic meal that would prove who He was to the world. Everything that was on the table was significant.
As part of the meal, participants eat the bitter herbs as required in Exodus 12 that represent the bitterness of slavery. This usually is eaten by dipping some unleavened bread into a bowl of ground up bitter herbs. During the meal, Yeshua said, “…the one who dipped his hand with Me into the bowl will betray Me” (Matthew 26:23). With this in mind, it is interesting that it was after Judas ate this morsel that Satan entered him (John 13:27).
Yeshua later breaks the bread saying, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). This was not ordinary bread, but unleavened bread. In His teachings, Yeshua compared leaven to hypocrisy, sin, and wickedness (Matthew 16:6; Luke 12:1). By doing so, He was saying that there was no sin or hypocrisy in Him, and they could partake in His sacrifice.
Passover’s Four Cups of Wine
Throughout a traditional Seder meal, there are four cups of wine that are consumed. The third cup is recognized and consumed toward the end of the meal and is called “the cup of redemption” to remember their physical redemption from Egypt. It was most likely this cup that Yeshua raised, saying, “Drink from it all of you; this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:27-28).
“Eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood”
This is not the first time that Yeshua spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6, Yeshua made similar comments. Ironically, verse 4 tells us that He said these things during the time of the Passover.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” John 6:53
The Last Supper and Communion
This statement caused many disciples turned away from the Lord and to no longer follow Him. For the Lord, to “eat the flesh,” and to “drink His blood” was at the very core of being His disciple. It still is today, but we have given it a different name—Communion. The real beginning of the Church’s ritual of taking communion did not start at the Last Supper, but through the Passover traditions set down over thousands of years before. Yeshua was not starting a new tradition, but simply revealing God’s true message of the Passover Seder—communing with God. This is why He told His disciples that when you observe this feast and break the unleavened bread, “…do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
While we remember Israel’s deliverance, let’s remember the only One that can truly deliver and spend time communing with Him.
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