22.17-18 And he received a cup, and when he had given thanks (eucharistesas), he said, Take this, and divide it (share it) among yourselves, for I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingly Rule of God shall come.
During the Passover feast it was customary for four cups of wine to be drunk. This was therefore probably the first cup, the initial opening of the feast, although it may have been the second. And Luke probably has the saying that follows it in the right place. It may be seen as quite likely that Jesus made some poignant comment as each cup was drunk. It was after all a time of huge significance. Luke then draws on His two main emphases, the one to do with the soon coming and final certainty of the Kingly Rule of God which will not involve His eating and drinking, and the one which spoke of the giving of His body and of the new covenant sealed in blood, at which there would be eating and drinking, for He wants to bring out both stresses individually. Matthew and Mark meanwhile deliberately limit mention of the drinking of wine to one cup so as to concentrate the minds of their readers on the cup later used in Communion at the Lords Table. They therefore, in order to
introduce these words, had to tack them rather uncomfortably onto the words of institution which are similar to those given below, because while they did not wish to omit them altogether, their emphasis was on the significance of the Lords Supper as continually celebrated by the church. They were combining the two aspects into one for that purpose.
Divide it among yourselves. It was normal at the Passover for the presiding person to drink first and then for the cup to be passed round. So this probably means that Jesus had taken His first drink and was now offering it to them, so that each might drink from the cup. It may, however, signify that Jesus did not drink of it Himself, although in our view this seems unlikely in view of His statement that He had so desired to share this meal with them. Indeed it would mar the sense of oneness and unity. But the principle point here is that the wine at this feast, and possibly in this cup, would be the last wine He would taste, until the coming of the Kingly Rule of God that lay beyond it (apart from the cup of suffering - verse 42). It was an indication of how close was the coming of the Kingly Rule of God, a coming which would be especially revealed by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The description of this wine as His last taste before the coming of the Kingly Rule of God was an assertion both of His certain approaching death, and of the certainty of the coming of the Kingly Rule of God. It was also the guarantee of His resurrection in preparation for it (for without bodily resurrection He would not otherwise be able to drink of it again). So it was both an indication of His coming death and a positive guarantee of His glorious coming victory and of the good times that would one day come. It was an assurance that in spite of what was to happen, the Kingly Rule of God would become a reality. It would begin once He was taken up and enthroned, and would then continue for ever, and they could all therefore carry with them this certainty, that they would once more sup together and drink wine with Him under His Fathers Kingly Rule (both on earth and in Heaven, compare Isaiah 25.6-8. See also Luke 12.37; 14.24).
As already mentioned there are two main views about what He means here, whether He means that they will once more eat and drink with Him in spiritual fellowship around the Lords Table, or whether it refers to His future eating and drinking in the eternal kingdom. We favour the first, firstly because otherwise there is a sad lack of reference to the period that will come between His enthronement and His coming again, and secondly because otherwise it would indicate that He was telling them to seek humility and glory at the same time, an unlikely possibility when it was spoken to men who wrongly had their minds fixed on the highest place.
In our view we must see His not eating and drinking as a symbol of His dedicating Himself to dying on the cross (compare Numbers 6.3), and of His priesthood in offering Himself on it (Leviticus 10.8), as described more fully in Hebrews 9.11-14.
But those who see it as referring to the coming of the everlasting Kingdom see it as signifying that the reason why He would not drink was because His work would not be done until all was accomplished. Cessation from the drinking of wine indicated to a Jew either the intention of entering on priestly ministry (Leviticus 10.8) or the intention to take a sacred vow (Numbers 6.3). It was a symbol of those especially dedicated to a sacred task (1.15). We are reminded here that, in Hebrews, Jesus future time is seen as being utilised in His ever living to make intercession for us as our great High Priest (Hebrews 7.25). No priest entering on his ministry was to drink wine. Thus Jesus may here be stressing the total dedication of Himself to the saving task that lies ahead.
Eucharistesas (when He had given thanks). All the cups would be blessed during the Passover so that this does not identify which cup it was. The verb is also used by Luke of the bread. The use of this verb without an object is typically Jewish.
22.19-20 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.
And then Jesus came to the second part of what He wanted to convey to His disciples from the Passover feast. For in one sense in taking the Passover bread and breaking it before passing it to them He was treating it like a regular meal (usually the blessing came after the passing out of the Passover bread). He was indicating that what He was doing had a special purpose connected with Himself, that the blessing would flow out from Himself. It was a reminder of the feeding of the multitude (9.16-17), and a guarantee that He would feed them in the days to come (24.30-31; John 6.53-58). He wanted them to see in this bread His body given for them on which they could feed as they continually came to Him and believed on Him. He wanted them to see Him as the One Who could feed their souls and give them continuingly abundant life (John 10.10).
He no doubt had in mind His words in John 6.35, I am the bread of life (which had come down from Heaven and gives life to the world - verse 33), he who comes to me will never hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst. And His later words, I am the living bread who came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live for ever. And the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6.51). Thus in speaking of the giving of His body He was conveying the fact that through His death He was offering them life, eternal life (John 4.10-14) and that they would enjoy that life as they kept on coming to Him and kept on believing in Him. This was no offer of a semi-magical, mystical method of conveying something inaptly called grace, but an offer of a living and continual personal relationship with Himself, an abiding in the vine (John 15.1-6).
We must remember that eating flesh and drinking blood was a vivid Old Testament way of describing the killing of people. In the Old Testament, when the Psalmist spoke of those who eat up my people like they eat bread (Psalm 14.4; 53.4), and Micah describes the unjust rulers of Israel as those who hate the good and love the evil --- who eat the flesh of my people (Micah 3.3), both were indicating the actions of those who were doing great harm to them, including slaughtering them. To eat flesh is therefore to partake in the benefits resulting from the suffering of another.
By eating the bread they would certainly not be indicating that they themselves would kill Him, at least not directly (although their sins would kill Him), but by their act they were equally certainly indicating their need to partake of His suffering, to receive benefit through His suffering, and that it was their sins which were responsible for His death. They were partaking in His death. Others would kill Him, what they would do was benefit through His death and become a part of it (see John 6.54). Thus this was not meant in any quasi-magical sense. It was to be a spiritual act. The bread could not be His body, even by a miracle, for He was Himself at that time there in His body (so those who try to make it more have to call it a mystery, which in this case means something that not only defies common sense and logic, which might be possible, but is totally self-contradictory, which is not possible. Even the greatest of miracles could not make a piece of bread eaten at a
table the same as a human body present there alive at the same table!). In sensible interpretation it had to mean this represents my body (compare the use of is in Luke 8.11; Galatians 4.24; Revelation 1.20) just as the bread at the Passover represented the bread of affliction.
When eating the Passover bread the Jews saw themselves as partaking in the sufferings of their ancestors. In a sense they actually saw themselves as one with them in corporate unity. Thus they enjoyed a genuine spiritual experience of oneness with their deliverance (although the bread remained the same). In the same way when Christians eat of this bread they see themselves as partaking in the death of Christ, as having been with Him on the cross (Galatians 2.20). So by recognising and acknowledging their close participation with Him in His death by faith they recognise that through it they have received eternal life. But no further lamb is slain or is needed. No further offering is made, or needs to be made. Nothing needs to be done to the bread. He is the one sacrifice for sin for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2; Hebrews 10.10, 14; John 4.42; 1 John 4.14). They rather recognise that His offering of Himself once for all (Hebrews 9.28) is something that they
continually participate in, and that they participate by constantly coming to Him and believing in Him (John 6.35). Thus do they eat of His flesh and drink of His blood by benefiting through His death (John 6.53-56), just as in the Old Testament men ate flesh and drank blood when they benefited by their deaths, and just as the Jews became partakers in the blood of the prophets by consenting to their deaths (Matthew 23.30).
This do in remembrance of Me. By these words He was also setting up a means of remembrance and continual participation in what He was to do for them. That was what the Passover had always been to the Jews. As they participated in it they felt that once again they were back in Egypt and God was coming down to deliver them. They recognised that once again they were His people, awaiting His powerful working. They felt as though they were being delivered again. When they ate the bread they said, This is the bread of affliction that we ate in Egypt. And they really felt that it was, for the we represented the whole body of Israel past and present. They felt as though they were there once again, at one with their forefathers, that they were a continuation of their forefathers. It was not just a memorial but a remembrance (difference ours, the Greek word could mean either) in which they were taken back in time and participated again with their ancestors of old in the
mighty working of God. And it was all with the hope that one day it would happen again and introduce Gods kingly rule.
In the same way when the disciples, and those who came to believe on Him through their words, took bread in this way and ate it, they were to feel that they were once again walking with Jesus and supping with Him. They were to feel as though they too were entering personally into His brokenness on the cross. They were being crucified with Him (Galatians 2.20). And they were then to sense that they were receiving new life from Him as the branch receives it from its oneness with the vine (John 15.1-6), and dying and rising again with Him (Romans 6.4; Galatians 2.20; Ephesians 2.1-6). And if their hearts were rightly disposed towards Him, that is what would happen. And they were to see that they were renewing their covenant with Him, a covenant sealed by His blood, that guaranteed their position before the Father as His children (2 Corinthians 6.16-18). This last idea of the covenant is central to the Lords Supper. It is to be more than a memorial, it is to be a personal
remembrance, a full participation in Him through the Spirit, and a recommitment to His covenant through which full salvation has come. But there would be nothing mysterious about the bread. The bread would not change either physically or spiritually (any more than the Passover bread did). It would rather be the point of contact through which they came in touch with the crucified and living Christ, coming to Him and believing on Him continually, enjoying His presence among them (Matthew 18.20; 28.20) and thus enjoying life through His name.
We should note that Jesus said do this not offer this. It was an act of remembrance not an offering. The offering was of Jesus, made once and for all on the cross. The doing of this was a remembrance of that offering. The wine did not replace His sacrifice or even mime it. It was a memorial of the blood that had been shed.
It is difficult to overstress the significance of what this change to the Passover ritual meant. Consider the extraordinary fact. Here Jesus was taking over the Passover, as He had taken over the Sabbath (6.5), and was applying it to Himself. No ordinary prophet would ever have dared to do this. Humanly speaking it was outrageous, unless the One Who did it was God Himself (which is why Jesus made this crystal clear at this time - John 14.6-9). For it was to make out that what He was about to do was as great, if not greater, than what God, their Almighty Lord, had done at the Passover. It was to supplant the God-ordained Passover. It was replacing the Passover by the new deliverance being wrought by Him through the cross. In His death and resurrection it would be He Who would pass over His people, protecting them from the wrath to come, and making available for them the forgiveness of sins (24.46-47). It was declaring that in Him was fulfilled all that the Passover had
meant to Israel, and more. Here was Gods final and full act of deliverance for all who would shelter beneath His blood. It was the fulfilment of all that the Passover had meant, and to which the Passover had pointed.
And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you. And in the same way, when He took what was probably the third cup, (they were all cups of blessing, but this was especially thought of as the cup of blessing), to be taken after eating the Passover meal, He told them that it was the symbol of the new covenant in His blood, a covenant sealed through the death of the Victim, and by participation in the Victim. This took their minds back to the days at Mount Sinai when the covenant had been offered and the people of God had accepted it and had sealed it with the shedding of blood, the blood of His covenant, the blood of the covenant that He has made with you (Exodus 24.8). Then animals had been offered in substitution and representation, and the blood had been sprinkled on the people. Here then also was the sealing of a covenant in blood, but this time it was in His blood, of which they in
symbol drank by receiving the wine as they responded spiritually to Him in dependence on His sacrifice. And the covenant was the new covenant by which God guaranteed to do a transforming work in their hearts and lives (Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 8.8-13), bringing them full forgiveness of sins (24.46-47; Acts 26.18) and inheritance among those who were made holy in Him (Acts 26.18).
Thus when they drank wine in the future (or when they participated in the equivalent of the Passover in the future) they were to see in it a remembrance of His death. The redness of the wine would remind them of His blood shed for them. The drinking of the wine would remind them that they partook in the benefits of His death. Just as their fathers had partaken of the blood of the prophets by participating in killing them (Matthew 23.30), so they partook of the blood of Jesus because they were participating in His death and receiving forgiveness for their sins (24.47; 1 John 1.7), the very sins which had brought about His crucifixion and were therefore responsible for His death. For the cup of the new covenant in His blood was poured out for them (so the Greek), as He was, like the Servant of the Lord described of old (Isaiah 53.12), numbered with the transgressors (verse 37). Thus by coming to Him and believing in Him through participation in the bread and the wine they
would be continually enjoying forgiveness and eternal life in His name. They would be abiding in Him (John 6.53-56). They would be guaranteeing, as long as their inward hearts were in parallel with their outward action, their participation in the new covenant in His blood.
Once again He was taking a familiar Old Testament metaphor. In Zechariah 9.15 the LXX speaks of the fact that the victorious people of God will drink their blood (the blood of their enemies) like wine signifying a triumphant victory and the slaughter of their enemies. And David used a similar picture when three of his followers had risked their lives to fetch him water. He poured it out on the ground as an offering to God and said, shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?. Furthermore Isaiah brought both metaphors of eating and drinking together when he said of the enemies of Israel that God would make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine (Isaiah 49.26), signifying that they would destroy themselves. Thus in Hebrew thought drinking a persons blood meant killing someone or benefiting by their death.
So as we partake of the Lords Supper we are indicating that, as David would have done if he had drunk the water brought to him by those who loved him, we are seeking to benefit by His sacrifice of Himself. We are partaking in His death. We are making His death our own, so that we might enjoy His life springing up within us
Thanks & regds
"God is my saviour; i will trust him and not be afraid" Isaiah 12:2