Toward a Better Understanding of Passover
Part 16 - Significance of The Last Supper
by: Jim Rector
The Passover, as we know, was slain on the afternoon of the 14th day. This is precisely why the Old Testament often connects Passover with this particular day. The celebration or keeping of the Passover always pertained to the early portion of the 15th day. That being a Biblical and historical fact, of what significance is Christ’s Last Supper?
We know that it was not done in order to change the divinely ordained timing of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Those were established anciently by God, and He simply doesn’t change on His Law. We also know that the Messiah did not come to change or do away with even the smallest aspect of the commandments. And we also know that Christ both observed the Passover according to the first-century timing and customs, and that He perfectly fulfilled the Passover Lamb sacrifice by actually dying at the precise time the physical animals were being slain.
Still, the Last Supper is very important, not in terms of changing Passover, but for two significant other reasons. First and most obvious is the teaching with respect to the spiritual meaning of the bread and wine. These were familiar items to the Jews, and were indeed a part of the Passover ceremony itself. Connecting His body to the unleavened bread and His blood to the wine, Yahshua forever established a symbolism that carries with it the greatest of weight. When the bread and wine are taken either late on the 14th or early on the 15th day as a part of the annual Passover commemoration, they fulfil their greatest role in terms of reminding and reinforcing the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, and in terms of memorializing that most sacred of offerings – His death on the tree!
In addition, however, there may well be even more meaning to the Last Supper. First of all, it was a fellowship meal. Secondly, it specifically involved bread and wine. Can these factors possibly have other significance to believers outside of the annual observance of Passover? I believe that the answer to this question is a definite yes.
There is really nothing in all the various accounts of the Last Supper that has anything to do with precise timing. That is why we can know that the occasion did not affect the historical pattern of the Passover. By the same token, we are told by the apostle Paul:
“For AS OFTEN as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the LORD’S DEATH till He come” (I Cor. 11:18).
The very nature of this language cannot help but suggest to us that Paul is not confining the partaking of the bread and wine to only one annual occasion. While it is absolutely correct that these are emblems that form a part of the Passover service, and indeed find their greatest fulfillment in that annual commemoration, there is still nothing that prohibits the Last Supper format from being repeated at other times during the year. In fact, if anything, the Scriptures seem to allow for this, rather than forbid it.
I would suggest to believers today that we all seriously consider the Last Supper as a model for coming together on various occasions of our choosing, having a fellowship meal, a portion of which would include a contemplative and reverent partaking of the bread and wine in memory of our Savior and what He has done for us. In no way would such a practice diminish the annual Passover. On the contrary, it would only support and strengthen it for all of us. I fully believe that this practice was followed by the early disciples after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. There is evidence to certainly draw such conclusions. It is something that I would recommend to every Christian today. If this were done, I doubt that any of us could imagine how much of a positive impact it would have. I believe that it is something that God would bless.