An Observance That Affects You
WHEN on earth, Jesus Christ instituted an observance that honors God. This was the only religious ceremony he directly commanded his followers to observe. It was the Lord’s Evening Meal, known also as the Last Supper.
Imagine that you are an unseen observer of the events leading up to that occasion. Jesus and his apostles have come together in an upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. They have finished eating the customary Passover meal, consisting of roasted lamb, bitter greens, unleavened bread, and red wine. The disloyal apostle Judas Iscariot has been dismissed and will soon betray his Master. (Matthew 26:17-25; John 13:21, 26-30) Jesus is alone with his 11 faithful apostles. Matthew is one of them.
According to Matthew’s eyewitness account, this is how Jesus institutes the Lord’s Evening Meal: “Jesus took a loaf [of unleavened bread] and, after saying a blessing, he broke it and, giving it to the disciples, he said: ‘Take, eat. This means my body.’ Also, he took a cup [of wine] and, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my “blood of the covenant,” which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.’”—Matthew 26:26-28.
Why did Jesus institute the Lord’s Evening Meal? When doing so, why did he use unleavened bread and red wine? Were all of Christ’s followers to partake of these emblems? How often was this meal to be observed? And does it really have meaning for you?