The Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—each record the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the sacrament Christ ordained to remember His death on behalf of His people (Matt. 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:14–20). Since that event two thousand years ago, Christians have regularly celebrated the Lord’s Supper, which is known in some traditions as the Eucharist or Holy Communion. Indeed, the Lord’s Supper is a central component of Christian worship, so all believers can benefit from a greater understanding of the sacrament. We are now pausing our study of Mark’s gospel to consider the Lord’s Supper in greater depth. Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Kingdom Feast will guide our study.
Even though the Lord’s Supper was instituted on the night before our Savior went to the cross, the roots of the sacrament go back further. As we have seen in our study of Mark 14, the Lord’s Supper was given in the context of the Passover celebration, so the old covenant Passover festival points to the sacrament’s significance.
The first Passover took place on the night of the final plague the Lord sent against Egypt. Recall that our Creator sent Moses to Egypt because He heard the cries of His people Israel in Egyptian slavery; remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and moved to liberate the Israelites from bondage. There was a contest between Pharaoh and God, who was represented by Moses. The Lord sent a series of plagues to convince Pharaoh that he should let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh kept hardening his heart and would not release the people. Finally, Pharaoh relented and released the Israelites after God put the firstborn sons of Egypt to death (Ex. 2:23–12:51).
In light of all this, it is appropriate to say that God saved Israel from slavery; however, we cannot stop there. If the Lord’s purpose was merely to redeem the Israelites from earthly bondage, there would have been no need for placing the Passover lamb’s blood on their doors on the night God killed the firstborn of Egypt. No, that blood was a sign to the people that while they were being saved by God, they were also being saved from God. Being sinners, the firstborn sons of Israel deserved death no less than the firstborn sons of Egypt. The lamb’s blood symbolically shielded the children of the Israelites from God’s wrath because the lamb was slain in their place, foreshadowing the eternal salvation that comes to those who are covered in the blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).