DUNCAN/The Lord’s supper: Kingdom meal
If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Matthew chapter 26 verses 26 – 29. We’ve said all along that Matthew 26 is a prelude to the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and especially the passage we’re going to look at today, because this is the Lord’s Supper. In this passage, Jesus is teaching us something very important about His death. And unless we understand what Jesus is doing on the cross, we’ll never be able to appreciate it. In other words, you have to know what the cross is for before the cross means anything to you in the life of faith.
Let’s look at the passage in three sections. In verse 26, you’ll see Jesus’ institution of the bread. In verses 27 – 28, you’ll see His institution of the cup. And then in verse 29, you’ll see Jesus make a glorious pledge.
I. The Institution of the Bread
First, let’s look at verse 26 where we see the establishment of the bread. The words here in verse 26, “Take, eat this is My Body,” pre-explain what Jesus is going to do on the cross tomorrow. It is important that His disciples realize that the death that He is going to die is not an accident. It is something which He is embracing as part of the plan of God. And by having this meal on the night of Passover, he is linking the Lord’s Supper with the celebration of the Passover. Furthermore, he is teaching that He is accomplishing a greater exodus than the exodus led by Moses. And, of course, He is instituting a new ordinance which all Christians are to observe in all ages until He comes again. And the breaking of the bread is designed to strengthen our faith and give us assurance of His love.
Have you noticed that in every gospel account, it is emphasized that Jesus broke the bread. This is at the essence of the Sacrament. Why? Because He is pointing to His death as the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. He would be bruised for the iniquity of His people. He would have the wrath of God fall upon Him. The chastisement of our peace would be upon Him. By His brokenness, He would win our redemption. And He says to them, “Take, eat, this is My body.” What is Jesus saying to them? He’s saying, “This bread represents My Body. It explains what I am going to do for you tomorrow. This bread is a symbol of My body given for you.”
The importance of this sacrament is not found in focusing on the sign, but in focusing on what the sign points toward. The sign of the Lord’s Supper is designed to get you to look away from the Lord’s Supper to the work of Christ. To illustrate, when you are traveling down a road and you see a sign that your destination is two miles away, you don’t stop and have a celebratory rally around it. You rejoice that your destination is just a couple of miles away, and you head on. The function of a sign is not to draw attention to itself, but to point to something else. And that’s the same way the Lord’s Supper functions. The Lord’s Supper is designed to point us to a greater reality. The reality of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. The Institution of the Cup
Now I’d like you to see two things about the institution of the cup in verses 27 – 28.
Firstly, notice that Jesus makes one tiny, but very important change to the phrase, “This is the blood of the Covenant.” He adds a word by saying, “This is My blood of the Covenant.” He’s saying to the disciples, “I am the one who through the shedding of My Blood will bring about the forgiveness of sins for all of God’s people. Jeremiah prophesied that there was going to come a day when the Lord was going to fully and finally forgive your iniquity. What I am going to do tomorrow is the fulfillment of that prophecy given over six hundred years ago. When I die, when My blood is poured out, sin will be forgiven. Therefore, unless you trust in Me, as the covenant sacrifice who has brought about the forgiveness of sins, you will not experience spiritual life. Your drinking, your believing, your trusting on Me as the covenant sacrifice is the source of your spiritual nourishment.”
Secondly, He goes on to say that His blood is, “Poured out for many.” He dies for the many, not for the few. He dies not merely for Old Testament believers but for a multitude that no man can number from every tribe and tongue and nation; for Jew and Greek, for slave and free, for male and female. He dies for a multitude no man could number. The Gentiles are going to be brought in, and His death is going to be for them, as well as believers under the old covenant. He dies for the covenant people, for the chosen of God, but not for a few, but for the many. Those from every tribe and tongue and nation.
III. The Glorious Pledge
And then finally, He makes an astonishing pledge in verse 29. These words serve to strengthen the disciples’ hope for future glory. They serve to strengthen our hope for future glory. Remember, the disciples are about to go through one of the greatest trials they would ever experience. For three days, they would be without hope. And the Lord Jesus in verse 29 pledges to them, “I am never, ever going to take the cup of this ceremonial meal again until you and I are sitting down face-to-face, and you are on the other side of the fulfillment of the promise. Right now, you are still waiting for them to fulfilled. When we sit down the next time to take this meal together, you will have experienced all the blessings that I purchase for you on the cross, and you will be able to say with the people of God that not one of all the good promises of the Lord failed to come to pass. I am pledging to you that I will return, and we will sit down, and we will eat the marriage supper of the Lamb together.”
You may face trials which make you think it will never happen, yet the Lord Jesus Christ with His own divine authority is saying, “Don’t you dare think it. Because I will return, and I will sit down, and I will eat this meal with you in glory.” That’s an exceedingly precious thought to me. My Savior knows me, He knows all the secrets of my heart; and He’s going to sit down with me, and He’s going to raise up that cup again, and He’s going to say mission accomplished.