Most countries have some sort of day each year where they honor fallen soldiers. In the United States we have Memorial Day. Whatever country you’re in, this day is not really a day of celebration as many believe. It’s a somber day to stop and honor those who have fallen in battle. It’s a time where we should contemplate the cost of freedom that we enjoy. Many of us live our lives in freedom, but take it for granted. We forget the price that was and is being paid by those who stand up against those who want to take it away.
In a room in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago, Jesus was having is final meal with His disciples. They didn’t understand the significance of the moment they were in, but they recorded what happened for us. It started off with Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. It wasn’t that much longer that He picked up some unleavened bread, blessed it’s and broke it symbolizing how He was about to be broken for our freedom from sickness. He then passed around the cup of wine for them to drink symbolizing His blood that would be poured out to give freedom from sin.
Luke 22:19 says, “Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me’” (GMT). As Christians, we celebrate a different kind of Memorial Day each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We can’t let it become just a ritual we participate in. We are to remember the price that was paid for our freedom each time we take it. If Jesus has set you free, then you are free indeed and have much to be thankful for each time you participate in Communion. As they say, “Freedom is not free.” Someone paid for you to have it whether physical or spiritual.
John 13 – 18 tells us what all happened on Thursday during Jesus’ final week before the crucifixion. It starts at the Last Supper. I think we forget sometimes that this was the Passover Meal. Many Christians don’t understand what all this meal entails because we don’t celebrate it like a Jew would. It is a meal that is eaten in order telling a story taking you from slavery to freedom. I find that interesting since that is what Jesus was doing for us during that particular Passover. He was taking us, who were slaves to sin, to a life of freedom in Him. Because of what He was about to endure, you and I could be set free spiritually.
Jesus also washed His disciple’s feet that evening. If you’ve ever been to a foot washing service, you know how humbling this is. Peter wouldn’t let a Him do it. He pushed back, but Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Peter then popped back, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” We act like Peter a lot when Jesus tries to do something truly great for us. We resist Him. We resist the work He’s trying to do in our life. We resist when He tries to cleanse us of a sin. We resist when He tries to put us in position to do ministry. Jesus is patient with us though our resistance.
Jesus then instituted the Lord’s Supper, communion or the sacraments depending on how you refer to it. Matthew 26:26-28 tells us that He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His disciples. He said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body which is given for you.” Then He took a cup of wine and gave thanks for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” Each time you and I partake in this, we are to remember what He did for us on the cross. The price He paid for our freedom was His life. You are worth more than you can imagine.
They then went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives to pray and reflect on the evening. Jesus went to pray by Himself. He asked God if it there was another way to do this. He said, “If it’s possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done not mine.” Jesus struggled with the thought of being beaten, being whipped, being hung on a cross, bearing the sins of the world and being separated from the Father. His human nature was trying to walk away from the cross, but He submitted to the Father’s will. He understood that to follow God’s will means we’ll have to give up our will. Through prayer, we can overcome the doubt and thoughts that try to stop us from fulfilling our calling.
If you know me, you know I love to eat. I always say, “If I’m not eating, I’m thinking about eating.” So it should come as no surprise that I have a particular interest in the Last Supper. It was Thursday night as Jesus and the disciples sat around a table sharing what would be their last meal together. If you’ve been in church any amount of time, you’ve no doubt experienced a service where this meal was celebrated.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 26:26-28 that Jesus broke the unleavened bread and blessed it. He gave it to the disciples and said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” Then he took the cup of wine and gave thanks for it. He then gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people.”
The traditional meal at Passover has several parts to it, but Jesus called out these two particular parts on purpose. The unleavened bread was to remind the people how quickly they fled Egypt. They made bread, but didn’t have time to add yeast (leaven) to make the dough rise. It was a symbol that they had been released from bondage. Let’s think about that for a second.
Jesus just said that the bread was His body. His body was broken so that you and I could be set free from our bondage. Sin is something that binds each of us and makes us a slave to it. We are born into that bondage. Jesus is telling us that we don’t have to be bound to it any more. Because of His death on the cross we can be released from that bondage and set free. When we accept His death on the cross as payment for our sins, we cease to be slaves and become sons and daughters of the King. Heirs to all that is His.
After eating the unleavened bread, Jesus took a glass of wine, blessed it and passed it around. Again, wine was traditional for this meal. In fact, there were four glasses of wine used at this meal. They represented the four promises (covenants) of God given to Moses regarding His people. The four promises found in Exodus 6:6-7 are: I will bring you out of Egypt (sin), I will free you (from its bondage), I will redeem you (pay for your sins) and I will take you as my own people (make you a child of the King).
What I found interesting was in Luke 20:22. It says, “After supper He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup (fifth) is the new covenant (promise) between God and His people – an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. (NLT)” Jesus fulfilled each of the four promises given to Moses and now He, as God, was making a new covenant with His people. He was sacrificing Himself once and for all for our sins and to tear down the wall that existed between God and man.
God was not content to leave us bound in our sin and separated from Him. He loves us too much to do that. He was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to Him in order that you and I could be made right with Him. He not only wanted to bring us out of sin, free us from its bondage, pay for our sins and make us His children; He wanted to enter into a new relationship where we didn’t need a mediator anymore. He wanted to talk with each one of us without having to go through someone else. He wanted a relationship with you and still does.