THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST AND THE CENTRALITY OF THE CROSS ARE ANTICIPATED IN THE CELEBRATION OF PASSOVER BUT REALIZED IN THE INSTITUTION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER –
TRANSITION HERE FROM THE OLD COVENANT TO THE NEW COVENANT
In this key passage as we transition from the celebration of the Passover Feast to the institution of the Lord’s Supper, we are moving from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. This is a watershed moment in human history. We are looking at the events on the Thursday evening before the Friday crucifixion of Jesus Christ – the central event to which all of the types and prophecies of the Old Testament pointed. Christianity is all about the Person of Jesus Christ. And Christianity is all about the Cross of Christ.
“We preach Christ crucified” proclaims the Apostle Paul to the believers at Corinth – “to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:23-24)
A lot of people claim to believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures and own Jesus Christ as their Savior. But they still have a huge problem trusting the Lord because they fail to appreciate His sufficiency. So they read their Bibles to look for words of wisdom and yet still find themselves caught in the bondage of temptation and sin. To understand their behavior they turn to secular psychologists and counselors in hopes of closing that gap between their Expectations and their Experience. They fail to appreciate the sufficiency of Jesus Christ because they fail to grasp the significance of the Cross. What actually did Jesus accomplish on the Cross? What did He mean when He cried out “It is finished!”
Our passage this morning walks us through three very critical events in the final hours of Passion Week:
1) Preparation for Eating the Passover
2) Prediction of Betrayal at the Eating of the Passover
3) Institution of the Lord’s Supper – providing a Pattern for our celebration of it
TRANSITION HERE FROM THE OLD COVENANT TO THE NEW COVENANT
I. (:12-16) PREPARATION FOR EATING THE PASSOVER –
THE LORD CAN SHEPHERD US BECAUSE HE KNOWS (CONTROLS) ALL OF LIFE’S DETAILS
A. (:12) Expectation of Plans for the Preparation for Eating the Passover — Inquiry
1. Timing of the Preparation
“And on the first day of Unleavened Bread,
when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed,”
MacArthur: This takes place, as you know, on Thursday night of Passion Week. It is in the Jewish calendar the fourteenth of Nisan, year 30 A.D. And on that Thursday night is the Passover celebration for all of the Galilean Jews. In the Galilee, they celebrated their Passover on Thursday because they mark the Passover day from sunrise to sunrise. The Judean Jews in the south celebrated their Passover on Friday because they marked the Passover day from sunset to sunset. This difference we know from the writings of the Jewish Mishnah which are the official documents concerning the conduct of the Jews, and also from the history of Josephus. That’s important because that allowed our Lord to celebrate the Passover on Thursday night for a lot of critical reasons and still be the Passover on Friday, because they were two authorized and legitimate celebrations. . .
Now it is essential that our Lord be the Passover on Friday and die at three o’clock at exactly the time the Judeans were slaughtering the lambs for their Passover, for He is the Passover Lamb and God made the timing perfect because Jesus died exactly at that time on Friday. But it also is crucial that He celebrate the Passover and thus this tradition of one on Thursday and one on Friday fits perfectly in to the purpose and plan of God who is in control, after all, of all of history. The Lord needs to celebrate this final Passover because it is commanded to do that and that allows Him again, as always, to fulfill all righteousness. He also needs to celebrate it in order that He might define it as the end and that He might inaugurate the new memorial that we call Communion and make the transition. It is also critical that He have time, prolonged time, from the very beginning of evening till after midnight to instruct His disciples. And all of that instruction is contained in John chapter 13 through chapter 16. It is a crucial area of biblical instruction and it is capped off by the great High Priestly prayer of our Lord recorded in John 17.
God is completely in control of all of the timing and all of the events surrounding the death of His Son as the sacrifice for our sins; very precise
Blood from the sacrificial lamb had been applied to the door posts back at the time of the Exodus so that God spared their first-born
Foreshadowing of sacrifice of Jesus Christ – come to pay the penalty for our sins
2. Responsibility for the Preparation
“His disciples said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?’”
– Must first secure a suitable location – not like Jesus had multiple homes he possessed; how was He going to not get left out in the cold? Knew that Jesus would obey the Scriptures and fulfill all righteousness – he would not skip this important festival; had to find a place large enough – difficult in the crowded city
– Then the details of the preparation of the meal had to be taken care of
Hiebert: The work of preparation involved procuring and preparing the lamb, making the necessary room arrangements for the feast, and procuring unleavened cakes, wine, water, bitter herbs, and crushed fruit moistened with vinegar.
Disciples look to Jesus to provide the solution to this problem; expect that He has a plan
Application: Where do you want me to go in life and what do you want me to do? He is the Good Shepherd; we are the sheep; Lord is sufficient to Guide us; He has a plan
B. (:13-15) Explanation of the Plans — Instruction
1. (:13) Divine Appointment [Lawson came up with same outline point]
“And He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, ‘Go into the city,
and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him;’”
Note similarity to the instructions he gave his disciples for preparation for Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and the location and retrieval of the donkey
Seems strange to us – show how much God is in control
Here Peter and John are sent (Luke 22:8) – interesting that on most missions, the Lord never sent just an isolated person; always teamwork as the principle; required faith and obedience on their part
Huge crowd in the city – seems like the disciples would have requested more details
Passover must be celebrated inside the city walls
Edwards: The effect of both stories is to show Jesus’ knowledge and complete governance of events as his “hour” (14:35) of death approaches. Jesus is not a tragic hero caught in events beyond his control. There is no hint of desperation, fear, anger, or futility on his part. Jesus does not cower or retreat as plots are hatched against him. He displays, as he has throughout the Gospel, a sovereign freedom and authority to follow a course he has freely chosen in accordance with God’s plan. Judas and others may act against him, but they do not act upon him.
Hiebert: It was custom for the women to carry the water jars, while the men carried the water skins. [Gen 24:11, Eliezer at Haran, “the time that women go out to draw water.” v.13, “the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water.”]
Thompson: We might ask what the significance is of the man carrying water. Why not carrying groceries or doing something else? Ray Stedman said he thought Jesus has these disciples follow this man carrying water because he would lead them to the place that would feature the One who can give Living Water (John 7:37-38).
Sovereign knowledge – speaks to both Omniscience/Knowledge and Control/Sovereignty
Is. 46:9-10 — defining characteristic of God: “declaring the end from the beginning; and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure’”
2. (:14) Divine Appropriation
“and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘
This person was just a slave – not the owner of the house; but will lead the disciples to the owner;
Really God is the owner of the house; has given the stewardship of it over to this person for its appointed use in God’s appointed time; owner could have put himself in jeopardy by so closely identifying with Jesus
“The Teacher” = all the identification needed to point to Christ; Jesus well known to this house owner – would consider it a privilege to make such a room available for his use
Meal eaten in context of family – think of the blessing of having your first born son present;
Shows close bond of relationship
Application: How do we respond in our role as steward when Christ claims to have need of certain of our resources? Our house, car, health, finances, children …
Seek first the kingdom of God …
3. (:15) Divine Accommodations
“And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready;
and prepare for us there.”
– In terms of suitably furnished room
– In terms of suitable preparations for the meal
Thompson: Now a furnished upper room would be a room with some tables and pillows. They did not have chairs. So this room was nice. It was not some abandoned factory room. This was a nice place.
Place for Upper room discourse in gospel of John; same place where 120 gather together on Day of Pentecost
Application: Synergy of God sovereignly preparing the room and yet charging the disciples with human responsibility of preparing the Passover meal
C. (:16) Execution of the Plans — Implementation
“And the disciples went out, and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.”
– Go on the prescribed mission
– Arrive at the appointed destination
– Find everything to be exactly as Jesus had described
– Prepare the Passover meal
Why did Jesus direct his disciples in this roundabout way regarding preparations for the Passover celebration? Wanted to keep the location a secret from Judas – did not want anything to interfere with his institution of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – which He would observe just with the believing eleven.
II. (:17-21) PREDICTION OF BETRAYAL AT THE EATING OF THE PASSOVER —
THE LORD CAN JUDGE US BECAUSE HE KNOWS THE DEPTH OF OUR SIN
A. (:17-18) Shocking Announcement
1. (:17-18a) Intimate Setting
“And when it was evening He came with the twelve.
And as they were reclining at the table and eating,”
Thurs. evening sometime after sunset, after 6 PM
Walked the 2 miles from Bethany
Chaotic scene in the city with the mass of people there for the feast
Difficult to piece together the chronology of all the events that took place this evening –
– Jesus washing the feet of the disciples
– Lesson on humility and servanthood
– Upper room discourse
– Prayer of John 17
Number of couches arranged in a horseshoe pattern with Jesus at the head of the U-shape; reclining on these couches with table in the middle
Edwards: The actual meal was divided into four parts, each concluding with the drinking of a cup of wine. A blessing was first pronounced by the family head over the gathering. Then, in response to a child’s question, “Why is this night different from other nights?” the father recounted the deliverance from Egypt according to Deut 26:5-9. Third, the father pronounced a benediction over the various foods that symbolized the bitter captivity in Egypt and both the hardships and blessings of the Exodus: unleavened bread, bitter herbs, greens, stewed fruit, and roast lamb. Family and guests were then invited to partake of the meal. Near midnight the feast concluded with the singing of Psalms 116-18 and the drinking of the fourth cup of wine.
Application: only the blood of the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, can adequately cover your sins – otherwise you are under the soon-to-be-executed wrath of God
2. (:18b) Unimaginable Treachery
“Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—
one who is eating with Me.’”
Prophecy of Ps. 41:9
Extremely abrupt and dramatic interjection by Jesus
First time Jesus uttered these words
Betray: to deliver over – as delivering a prisoner to prison; breaking the loyalty of an intimate relationship in treachery and deceit
Someone who is in my immediate close circle; rubbing shoulders with me in my 3 years of ministry on the earth – not an outsider; makes this betrayal even more unimaginable
Why does He tell them in advance? So they would understand that this betrayal did not catch Jesus by surprise
Application: Don’t be surprised if as disciples you experience some level of betrayal as well in your Christian experience from close associates
B. (:19) Sober Self-Examination
“They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, ‘Surely not I?’”
Deeply hurt that someone in their inner circle would be so disloyal
Hiebert: Mark’s account does not identify the betrayer personally. According to Matthew, when Judas also asked, “Is it I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, apparently in a low voice, that he was the one (26:25). John’s account makes it clear that none of the other disciples besides John heard when Jesus made the identification . . . It is commonly accepted that Judas left before the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
Opportunity for self-examination – humble response; understanding their own potential for weakness
2 Cor. 13:5 examine yourself, whether you be in the faith – is your faith and profession genuine?
C. (:20-21) Sovereign Plan Coupled with Sinful Treachery
1. (:20) Vague Identification of the Intimate Betrayer
“And He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.’”
No new information provided here — a very generic answer
Only Judas would understand that this pointed specifically to him
Once again – principle that Jesus speaks something in the present that is only fully understood and appreciated after the fact
2. (:21) Divine Determination and Human Culpability
“For the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him;
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!
It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
God’s Sovereignty Does Not Relieve Man of His Responsibility
Acts 2:23 —
Acts 4:27-28 —
Gen. 50:20 – example of the brothers of Joseph who conspired to kill him
Sproul: It is not as though God in His sovereignty coerced Judas to carry out the evil act of betraying Jesus. Rather, the sovereign God worked His will in and through the choices of His creatures. Judas did exactly what Judas wanted to do, but God brought good out of evil, redemption out of treachery.
III. (:22-26) PATTERN FOR THE LORD’S SUPPER –
THE LORD CAN SAVE US BECAUSE HE KNOWS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS
A. (:22-24) Presentation of the Elements = The Bread and The Wine
1. (:22) The Bread
“And while they were eating, He took some bread,
and after a blessing He broke it; and gave it to them,”
MacArthur: He took the bread, the artos, the flat bread, and He gave thanks, He blessed it. All the giving of thanks is why this is called the Eucharist, the Greek verb for thanks, giving thanks is eucharisteo. So the Roman Catholic Church calls it the Eucharist because of the blessing on the cup and the blessing on the bread. . .
The Roman Catholic Church has prostituted this into something bizarre, into what is called transubstantiation whereby some priestly blessing, what is bread coming out of the kitchen becomes the actual body of Jesus in the hands of the priest. There’s nothing in Scripture about that. The Lutherans didn’t like that, so they came up with consubstantiation which says well it isn’t the physical body of Jesus, but it’s the spiritual body of Jesus. You’re not eating Him physically, you’re eating Him spiritually, neither of which is true.
Don Fortner: The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrament, a means by which we obtain grace. It is an ordinance by which we celebrate grace bestowed upon us through the precious blood of Christ.
“and said, ‘Take it; this is My body.’”
1 Cor. 5:7 – “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed”
Significance of Passover sacrifice: deliverance from sin’s judgment, from divine wrath can be provided by the death of an innocent substitute.
2. (:23-24) Wine
a. (:23) Blessing
“And when He had taken a cup, and given thanks,
He gave it to them; and they all drank from it.”
Parunak: Under the OT, the worshipper could eat the flesh of the peace offerings, and the priests could eat the flesh of the sin offerings, but no one could drink any of the blood. Lev 17:10-16. The blood is the heart of the sacrifice, reserved for God alone. Thus even the sacrificial table, there was always a barrier between God and the worshipper. That barrier is now removed. They drink the blood as well as eat the body.
b. (:24) Significance
“And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many.’”
Parunak: Jer 31:31-34; cf. Ezek 36:25-27. CAUSES obedience; transforms the worshipper through the indwelling of God’s Spirit; can never be broken. Heb. 9:11-23 develops in the greatest detail the parallels and contrasts between the covenants of Sinai and Calvary. Both must be ratified with blood. By calling the cup “my blood, that of the new covenant,” the Lord is identifying it as the ratifying blood of the new covenant.
B. (:25) Proclamation of Eschatological Consummation
“Truly I say to you, I shall never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Parunak: looks forward to the kingdom of God, which is depicted in the OT as a great banquet.
Rev 19:9, the marriage supper of the Lamb
(:26) Transition – Conclusion of the Meal and Initiation of Final Events
“And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Book of Hebrews presents the most comprehensive comparison between the Old and New Covenants:
Heb. 8:6 “But now He has obtained amore excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”
Heb. 9:22 “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”