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Dinner for Thirteen

With less than twenty-four hours remaining in His life, Jesus is holding a meeting with His twelve apostles in an upper room. Though He has little if anything in terms of worldly possessions, He nonetheless has a strong desire to leave them with something to remember Him by (Luke 22:14). As you might expect with Jesus, it’s not what you might expect.

The One who is Lord of heaven and earth does not bestow upon them lavish gifts, large amounts of money, or treasure of any kind. Instead, He leaves them with a common meal—a simple supper of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. This meal is not just for them, it is for all disciples everywhere from that time on. It is a memorial feast that expresses the bountiful love of the Father, the sacrifice of His Son, and the covenant relationship that He is establishing between Himself and His followers (v. 20).

While this supper is simple and humble, there is also an unmistakable element of boldness attached to it. This Jewish carpenter, this itinerant teacher from Galilee is doing nothing less than appropriating the Passover to Himself. He speaks of the greatest of the feasts which His nation had celebrated for over a millennium as representing His body and His blood (v. 19-20). He is claiming that He is the Passover and all that it stood for in terms of redemption, deliverance, and freedom. Paul, the Hebrew of Hebrews who becomes an apostle many years later speaks of Jesus as “our Passover Lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

And while the world is busy proclaiming the Jesus has died the death of a criminal and eventually driving His followers into the catacombs, each week they're taking the Supper in their assemblies and proclaiming the death of a  Savior for the life of the world (1 Corinthians 11:30). This proclamation has continued unbroken by time, circumstance, or place over the centuries. Today we are blessed by it, we are privileged to share in it, and we take our place in the perpetual witness of Christ’s death to those around us. While the world continues to downplay it, deconstruct it, or just ignore it—we eat the broken bread and drink the crushed grapes until He comes.

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