Luke 22: 14 - 20;
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26;
Ezekiel 36: 24-28
The Lord Jesus was brought up as a Jew. He was born into the Jewish family of Joseph and Mary. He had other brothers and sisters in that family, so it appeared. From what was apparent He became a carpenter under His father, Joseph. I am sure He attended many passovers in His lifetime here. There would be a passover every year. I am not speaking now of the moral application of the passover, but of the literal thing. He would celebrate the passover with His family. How often he celebrated it with His disciples I do not know. Maybe you could work it out from the accounts in the gospels, the synoptic gospels, but for His three and a half years of public ministry, I would suggest He celebrated the passover with His own, with His disciples. It would be customary, and He seems to have accepted what was done by them at that time. We were speaking informally after the meeting on Saturday about the cups that were on the passover table. One brother thought there were four or five cups on the passover table. Whatever number there were, the Lord accepted that. Someone suggested that they sang about four or five psalms from Psalm 114 to Psalm 118 - I say this for the interest of the young people. They sang those Psalms at the passover celebration.
But this passover was to be the last passover He would celebrate with His own, and it was distinctive: “He placed himself at table, and the twelve apostles with him”. Just before that, in verses 7 and 8, it says, “And the day of unleavened bread came, in which the passover was to be killed. And he sent Peter and John saying, Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it” as if it was characteristic of Him. But this passover was a special one: “He placed himself at table”, and He celebrated the passover. I think what He says would be distinctive, even in regard to the passover, when He says, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer”. That was in the Lord’s heart: He was going to suffer; He was going to die; He was going to be God’s Lamb, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”, John 1: 29. “With desire I have desired” - what intent there was in that, it is emphasised - “to eat this passover with you before I suffer”. I think they would be paying attention to that, and then He says, “I will not eat any more at all of it until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God”. Now for the young people’s sake, as far as I understand it the kingdom of God was anticipation of the Christian dispensation. In other gospels it is a little different, but I do not go into that tonight. “And having received a cup”, that is one of the passover cups. He maybe gave thanks at the other passovers, but I do not think He said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I say unto you, that I will not drink at all of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God come”. He knew that His death was to take place. The kingdom of God, as I have said already, involved the Christian dispensation. That is what is set out in Luke’s gospel.
And then He takes a loaf, “when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to them, saying …”. Now, that is a departure from the passover. The passover was no longer going to be celebrated by Christ. He had no intention really that it should be celebrated any more by His own. Maybe they continued it over in the early days of the Acts, I do not know for sure. But I think the Lord was drawing attention to a departure from the celebration of the passover literally because the kingdom of God, involving the Christian dispensation, is what He had in His mind. It says, “And having taken a loaf, when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me“. What a momentous occasion that was, that He should say that!
“In like manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, This cup”. That is what was in my mind, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”. It is not the passover cup. He received a cup in verse 17, it is one of the passover cups, but having taken a cup - He took a cup that was on the table - He says, “This cup”. It is distinct from everything else. I wonder if we are affected by “This cup”. The celebration of the Lord’s supper has come down to us - I will continue to speak about that in the setting in the Corinthian epistle. But “This cup” - The Lord Jesus said that, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood“. He actually said that, and they would be paying attention to Him. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood“. Everything was going to be established on the basis of “this cup“, not the Passover cup, but “this cup”.
I omitted to read a verse in the Acts 2: “And they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles” (v 42) - that is the disciples that were secured as new believers - “in breaking of bread and prayers”. And then verse 46, “And every day, being constantly in the temple with one accord, and breaking bread in the house, they received their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people”. What I want to show, particularly for young people here, is that in the early days of the Acts they broke bread in the house. They realised it was separate from the temple: “every day, being constantly in the temple”. They did not break bread in the temple. They broke bread in the house. They were grasping something of the distinction of the Supper, that it was not convenient to break bread in the temple setting or the synagogue. So they broke bread in their houses, and they would know something of the Lord’s presence in the simplicity of their hearts, just like the two on the way to Emmaus when they broke bread: “he was made known to them in the breaking of bread”, Luke 24: 35. That is what He did, even the act of doing it drew to their attention that it is what Christ had done. “Breaking bread in the house“; there was no local assembly. One place at this point would be Jerusalem and there would be many disciples there, thousands of them. Somewhere it says what the numbers were. They broke bread in the house and in the simplicity of their hearts remembered the Lord Jesus. What light they had we do not know. They recognised Him as their Messiah, whom they had rejected and crucified.
Well, in 1 Corinthians 11, I want to tell you - these are simple matters known to the brethren here, maybe even the younger people, but bear with me in the simplicity of it - Paul did not receive the instruction of the Supper from any of the apostles. He must have known about it, known about them breaking bread in the houses. Yet when local assemblies were coming onto view, and the first one established was Antioch, the Lord Jesus gave this to Paul personally from heaven. He must have had an appearing of the Lord to him. He says, “For I received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up …“. Think of that! I did not read of it in Luke’s gospel - maybe I should have - but Judas was still present, according to Luke’s account of it, bringing out that it was the night of His delivering up, “the night in which he was delivered up”. That is what it was. We celebrate the Supper, but when the Lord instituted the Supper, He instituted it “in the night in which he was delivered up”. Now, He has given it to Paul in relation to the local assembly: not in relation to the houses, but in relation to the local assembly. So we do not break bread merely in connection with our houses. We break bread as gathered together in the local assembly and he says it was “the night in which he was delivered up”. “The Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, took bread, and having given thanks broke it, and said …”. It is a fine title - “the Lord Jesus”. When we come together, no matter what locality you go into, and the Supper is being celebrated, I think that almost invariably the first two words that are said are ‘Lord Jesus‘. That title is customary among us; it is an assembly title; and it is persons who are filled with the Holy Spirit that can say these words, ‘Lord Jesus‘. If you can say, ‘Lord Jesus‘, dear brethren and dear younger brethren, in all the affections of your heart, I think it is a sign that you have the Holy Spirit. Only persons filled with the Spirit can say, ‘Lord Jesus‘.
So he says, “the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up,“ - that touches the heart of the believer - “took bread, and having given thanks broke it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me”. Then again, “In like manner also the cup, after having supped” - He had finished with the passover cup and the passover meal; He says “This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me”. “This cup”: does it affect our hearts, dear brethren? When we celebrate the Supper, the loaf is there, but I want to draw your attention to the cup, “This cup”. In the shedding of Christ’s blood, remission of sins, redemption - all are included in His work - His body also is involved in it - but “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”. That cup that is before us is an expression of divine love in its fullest extent, God’s love expressed in Christ, “This cup”. I wonder what we feel about that. It is good to participate. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”. It is going to lay the basis for everything that God is going to do.
I read in Ezekiel to show how God can put a new heart and a new spirit in the Israelite in a day to come because the Lord Jesus has laid the basis for the fulfilment of the new covenant in His death. He has borne the curse of the law. He has borne all that related to Israel as a nation, and how they failed! He has laid the basis for God to come in, as I read there, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you”. God is going to do that to the nation of Israel that He takes up. The remnant of the nation in a day to come He will take up and the basis He has is in this cup: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”. But we come into the blessings of the new covenant. That covenant is going to be made with Israel in a day to come, the remnant coming into the blessing of it, having a new spirit and a new heart and God putting His Spirit within them in the manner in which He will do it. But “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” has an effect upon me, forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, all as a result of the Lord’s death and “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” - precious, precious blood of Christ.
It is not a cup of sorrow to us. The Supper is not exactly an occasion of sorrow to us. We may be affected by the fact it was “the night in which He was delivered up” and He has given His body for us, but this cup is a cup of joy, it is “the new covenant in my blood”. The work has been done. Christ has done the work completely so it is a cup of joy. He is not desiring that we be sorrowful, not at all. It is a basis of joy that will be there eternally. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”, everything is cleared, the moral history is all gone. It involves the death of Christ. I do not go into the other parts of His death, such as the atonement, at this time. It is a cup of joy. We should celebrate it and be affected by it, and the heart is touched, the believer’s heart is touched, by the fact of that expression of love. There is no love like it, divine love expressed in the Lord Jesus, and it is there concentrated in the cup. The loaf is more the expression of the will of God in His body. The cup is an expression of love, love that we can hardly comprehend, but we know something about it because we know the love of Christ and we know something of the love of God because He “has sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father”, Gal. 4: 6. What intense affection is ours, dear brethren, in that matter of “Abba, Father”, an expression of intense affection in relation to the God who is known as our Father, “Abba, Father”, an intense form of the word “Father”. Words that are not translated bring out intensity in their meanings and “Abba” is one of those words, “Abba, Father”. So it springs from the heart of the believer that is affected by “This cup is the new covenant in my blood“. What a matter for us to contemplate! Let us look on that cup and appreciate it, be intent as the emblems are partaken of, both in the loaf and in the cup, be intense, look at them, and think about them, and Christ comes into your heart. Both of these matters in 1 Corinthians 11 bring out “remembrance of me”. Luke does not tell you that in the cup; he tells you that in the loaf, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me”, but He does not say that in the cup, but the Lord Jesus said it to Paul in the cup. He says not only in regard of the bread “in remembrance of me” but in the cup also “in remembrance of me”. It is a double intensification of the thought of “remembrance of me”. It means that the believer’s heart and mind and affections, his soul and his spirit, are so engaged with the thought of what is in that cup that he makes way for the Lord to come in and make Himself known in the heart and the affections.
May the Lord help us with these few words for His Name’s sake!
13th June 2006