“[Jesus] took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’ ” (vv. 23–24).
The Last Supper of our Lord is narrated in brief by the second evangelist in Mark 14:17–25. We have already seen that in many ways it was a dark occasion, for Jesus predicted during that Passover meal that one of the disciples would betray Him (vv. 17–21). In reality, however, all the disciples would betray our Lord before that night was over. Upon His arrest, all of them fled; not one of them would stand with Him before the Sanhedrin (v. 50). Peter would verbally deny Christ (vv. 66–72). Even the disciple whom Jesus loved was not there in our Lord’s great hour of need as He endured an unjust trial, though this disciple did return later to view the crucifixion (John 19:24b–27).
One scholar comments on the significance of the fact that the disciples present at the Last Supper all sinfully turned their back on Christ. It shows us, he says, that the sacrament Jesus instituted that night is a matter of grace. The Lord’s Supper is a meal for sinners, for only sinners need the blood of Christ to cover their sin. His table is open to all who repent of sin and trust only in Jesus for salvation.
Next week, we will study the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in more detail. As we look at what today’s passage says about the night on which the sacrament was instituted, it is important for us to note that Jesus took the liberty to alter the Passover meal and its liturgy. He changed the ceremony so that it clearly pointed to Him, saying that the Passover was fulfilled as He poured out His blood for many (Mark 14:22–23). Changing the Passover in such a way is quite remarkable. It was God who established the Passover and gave directions for its observance (Ex. 12), so only God could rightly change it. For Jesus to do such a thing was a claim to deity, an assertion of His divine identity, for He did something only God could do.
We will conclude our study today with a brief look at what the Lord’s Supper tells us about Jesus. Among other things, it is a vivid reminder of our need for the person and work of Christ. John Calvin comments that our bodies need “to be nourished and supported by meat and drink. Christ, in order to show that he alone is able to discharge perfectly all that is necessary for salvation, says that he supplies the place of meat and drink.” Eating the bread and drinking the wine during the Lord’s Supper tangibly remind us that we can have no spiritual life without Him just as we cannot sustain our physical lives without food.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
We cannot have life itself if we do not have Christ. Indeed, we need Him more than we need to eat and drink physical food for the sake of our bodies. The Lord’s Supper helps to remind us of our total dependence on the Savior, so let us be cognizant of how much we need Him this day and every day.