Sunday, 12 September 2010

The meaning of the Last Supper

A summary of the Bible Hour presentation at the Christadelphian Hall, Blackpool Street, Burton-upon-Trent on Sunday 12th September 2010.

At the Last Supper before he was crucified, Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples. You can read of it in Matthew 26:26-29 and Luke 22:19-20.

Jesus’ body was given and his blood was poured out to seal a covenant between God and his people. A covenant is an agreement. Let’s look at two covenants in the Old Testament as examples:

Genesis 15:18, a covenant between God and Abraham where God promised to give the land of Israel to Abraham’s descendants.

Exodus 19, the covenant between God and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai where they promised to be his people and he promised to be their God.

Both these covenants were sealed by the blood of animal sacrifices.

The Old Testament is largely the story of how Israel failed to keep their side of the covenant. You would expect this to mean that God would respond by refusing to honour his side of the covenant, but he didn’t. In Jeremiah 31:31, God promises to make a new covenant – people might fail to keep their side of the covenant, but he will forgive and keep his side.

This new covenant was also sealed by the blood of a sacrifice. Not this time an animal, but the blood of God’s own son, whom he willingly gave to reconcile us to himself.

God offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We agree to be his people. We cannot live up to our side of the covenant, but God will accept our faith, by his grace. This is expressed in Romans 3:23-24: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but we are justified freely by his grace through redemption in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 – as well as showing the covenant between God and his people, the bread and wine show the unity and fellowship between his people.

The evidence is that the first Christians shared the ‘communion’ bread and wine whenever they could as a sign of their faith and fellowship; soon it became established as a service that was held on the first day of the week.

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