In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ Exodus 13:14a
As a child sitting on a pew, I remember watching the tears fall gently down my mother’s face as she held the small cracker and the little plastic cup of purple grape juice in her slender hands. I looked intently into her face, leaned into her ear, and asked her why she was crying. I was concerned, and curious. She told me because of the meaning…all that it meant, the implication of those two little things, and all they represented. How they were a reminder of all Jesus had done, and all He was going to do.
In all honesty, I do not remember her exact words that day in church. I cannot recall the precise description or the heart-felt explanation of her tears. However, I can tell you this: I was never the same. The bread and the cup became so sacred, so precious, such a treasure from then on. I longed to experience what she was experiencing in that moment.
Now, as a mother myself, it’s rare that I take the bread and the cup without tears falling down my face. The treasure of the moment stirs a joy deep in my soul. And, it is also my turn to look into a concerned little face, with whispering lips, and lean my ear toward a curious child…asking, “What does this mean?” And just as my mother did all those years ago, I tell my child how by the “strength of His hand, the LORD” has done marvelous things.
As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it,
gave it to the disciples,
and said, “Take and eat it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks,
he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you.
For this is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Although I’ve experienced one Passover Seder, I remember very little about the details of what was on the Passover Table that last time Jesus sat with his closest followers just hours before his betrayal by Judas and subsequent trial, scourging, and ultimately his crucifixion. However, there are two items I will never forget: the Bread and the Final Cup.
If my memory is correct, during the meal, the middle of a stack of three unleavened pieces of bread is taken and broken as it is passed and shared. Jesus said, “This is my body.” The disciples were the first to hear this new line in the Seder script, this revelation that had been concealed for hundreds of years was now unveiled to them, and would become so utterly tangible in the days to follow. The unleavened bread cracks and snaps in the hands of those at the table. His body would be broken for them – and for us. This symbolic meal, a foreshadowing in ages passed would be fulfilled, lived out, and demonstrated in living, vibrant colors in the days, hours ahead. No longer would the symbol be a veiled-foreshadow, but forevermore, a completed fulfillment of all the Law, all the requirements, an accomplished work, and a bright vantage point of view of our final redemption and salvation. The breaking of the bread at the table that night would be part of the forever confirmation that Jesus Himself was the Yes and Amen to all the promises of God.
I’m confident there is no way the disciples would or could have grasped in the moment everything that was actually happening; but as you and I can now sit and read the account of this holy meal, do we see the significance? Can we grasp the gravity of the moment? Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds.
After the bread, next comes the cup of that deep-red liquid from the crushed fruit of the vine. The color of the communion grape juice has always been a favorite of mine. The combination of the red, purple, almost black and blue holds such depth in that little plastic cup I hold between my fingers at my church pew.
When Jesus lifts the cup and declares it to be His blood of the New Covenant, I can’t help but wonder if Abraham and Moses were leaning off the front porch of Heaven, recounting in their own minds the impact of that cup, the impact of a New Covenant, the significance of a New Covenant with the Covenant-keeping God, and the stark realization that there is no covenant made without the shedding of blood.
Although the words of the Seder script in this portion I cannot recall, there is one line in the Holy Scripture that catches my attention every time I hear it. There’s this one thing Jesus says that draws such a strong reaction from my heart every time I take the cup that I almost cannot contain my emotion…
He looks at his disciples and says,
I will not drink this again until I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)
Let that sink in.
Jesus is about to face the most intense, horrifying, grueling, strain of physical and spiritual agony and punishment; and yet He’s already talking about the victory that lies on the other side. He’s already talking about the banquet. He’s already talking about the true end of the story. He’s already looking beyond the betrayal. He’s already smiling past the beating. He’s already over the isolation He will experience. He’s already forgiven and finished the task. He’s already thinking past the grave. He’s already casting the vision for a new earth…the old will just not be there.
In that moment, He is preparing them for a kingdom mindset.
In that moment, He is training them for kingdom work.
In that moment, He is giving them victory for a battle yet to be fought.
In that moment, He is the Yes and Amen of all the Promises of God.
Anticipating that cup.
Do this in remembrance of Me. 1 Corinthians 11:24-25