Your E-mails: April 2022

Jesus said at the Last Supper ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. The Last Supper was the Passover. Surely you should keep the Last Supper once a year, at Passover, not every Sunday?

Ed: EVERY YEAR on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan religious Jews share the Passover meal. It is a ceremony that dates back 4,000 years to the meal their ancestors ate on their last night of slavery in Egypt. A central element in the Passover meal is the Passover Lamb, which recalls the lamb whose blood was used to protect the Israelite families from the final plague which God brought on the Egyptians. The record is in Exodus 12.

The Passover Lambs were actually only pointers to the ultimate Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God—Jesus Christ (John 1:29). He was the supreme sacrifice, whom God has provided to save us from death (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus died on the afternoon of Passover day, as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in Jerusalem.

The meal which Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before his death, which is known as the Last Supper, was probably a traditional Passover meal (Luke 22:15). He picked out two particular elements of the feast—the broken bread and the cup of wine—and commanded his disciples: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (v. 19). Ever since, his followers have shared a symbolic feast in obedience to his command. It’s known by various names such as the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the ‘breaking of bread’. Traditionally this is done weekly on a Sunday. But if the Last Supper was a Passover meal, should the Lord’s Supper be celebrated just once a year, on 14th Nisan?

It’s important to note is that Jesus was not commanding his disciples to hold the Passover meal in remembrance of him—he was referring specifically to the bread and wine, because they are reminders of his body and his blood (1 Corinthians 10:16). When the Apostle Paul gives direct instructions about the conduct of the feast (1 Corinthians 11:17– 34), it is clear that he is only interested in these two key components.

How frequently did the first Christians keep the feast? We don’t know exactly. It seems from Acts 2:42 that in the very early days of the Jerusalem congregation it was a regular, possibly daily occurrence. By the time we get to Acts 20:7 it appears they had settled on a regular meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday). The writings of the early churches confirm that this became the accepted practice—for instance Didache 14:1 (early 2nd Century ad).

We are forgetful and we need regular reminders of what is important in life, which is why Jesus instituted the feast and why his followers down through the ages have made it the central focus of their weekly lives.