As we enter the High Holy Days commemorating the death and resurrection of the Christ that all who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, it is fitting that we understand exactly what was the “Last Supper.” The traditional Christian concept of the Last Supper is Christ having dinner with his disciples and instituting communion—the bread and wine sacrament. But it is far deeper and more meaningful than it appears. Christ, a Jewish Rabbi, was in Jerusalem to partake in the Passover, the first of the spring feasts instituted by God after the exodus from Egypt. God’s people were instructed to observe this holy convocation “forever and throughout the generations (Leviticus 23).”
The ”Last Supper” was actually a Passover Seder, the ritual celebration of the retelling of the exodus from Egypt. As recorded in Luke 22:15, Jesus “said unto them, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” The Seder requires four cups of wine symbolizing various acts of G-d in relationship with his people—the cups in order are Sanctification; Deliverance; Redemption; and Praise. Also required is eating Matza, unleavened bread that is pierced with many holes, also referred to as the bread of affliction. Luke and Matthew recall the actual order of the Seder ceremony as administered by Jesus. “And he took bread (Matza), and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19).”
After the Seder dinner, Christ administered the cup of Redemption: “Likewise also the cup after they supped, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you (Luke 22:20).” Also in Matthew 26:29, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Christ was crucified and died while the lambs were being sacrificed for the Passover. As is written in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Not a bone was broken in his body as was required of the Passover Lamb in Numbers 9:12 and as recorded in John 19:34, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they did not break his legs.”
The Passover Seder emblems of Matza and Wine symbolically represented Christ’s body and blood given for the remission of sins. The Telling of the Passover relates to God’s plan of salvation for mankind as fulfilled by Christ’s death and resurrection. Each part of the Passover Seder points to Christ and his work of salvation—now and at the end of days. There are so many wonderful aspects of the Passover Seder that bring clearer understanding to Christ’s work of salvation. It is far more than the “Last Supper.” It is the story of God’s salvation plan through Christ, the Passover Lamb of the new Covenant. He is risen that all who believe in him should not perish, but have eternal life.