For Christians, Passover is fulfilled on Good Friday when the blood of Jesus is sprinkled on our souls. Jesus is the prophetic fulfillment of the Jewish Passover. Jesus’ last supper with His disciples was not the Seder. It was not the Passover Meal. This was a time of preparation for the Passover. The Passover meal could not be served until the slaughtering of the lambs outside the city which would occur the next day, the same day Jesus would be slaughtered on the cross.
Jesus was doing something new with His disciples. He was proclaiming His death before it actually happened. He said that His body was broken and that His blood was shed. He was saying that He was the last lamb sacrificed for the sins of the people. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world once and for all.
The Apostle Paul writes about this special meal in today’s Epistle Lesson:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
Jesus was asking His disciples to anticipate his crucifixion, participate in His suffering, and keep His sacrifice always in their memory. They would not just be remembering with their minds what had happened but they would actually be partaking in the event themselves in a spiritual way. John’s Gospel speaks of both the power and the necessity of the Communion service.
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)
Today, we are invited by our Lord to anticipate His power entering into our lives more and more as we participate His Holy Communion. We are asked to do more than just remember a historical event. We are asked to come with great expectation. In order to fully experience the resurrection we must also enter into Jesus’ death through our confession of sins. This is our opportunity to once more die to our sins that we might be empowered to live a resurrected life on this earth until He comes again.
After Communion Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment. Jesus said that by this commandment His disciples would demonstrate the resurrected life:
“Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35).
To love as Jesus loved is to be empowered as Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Communion has been given to us by our Lord to teach, experience, and practice the presence of the Lord so that we may be empowered to keep His commandment. As we empty ourselves and take on more of Him, we become a living witness of His resurrection. (See Eucharist Theology.)