14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
While bread and wine do not have quite the same significance for us as they did for first-century Jews, they are still very important in today’s diet. Both have an ancient history. Noah is considered the first wine maker (Genesis 9:20). God’s curse on Adam was, ‘By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:19).
We have always needed and enjoyed bread and wine. They feature significantly in the Passover meal commemorating the exodus from Egypt, and Jesus wished to share that feast with his disciples before the final agony and triumphant victory of cross and resurrection.
Jesus does not simply recall history or merely eat a meal, but he reinterprets the Jewish Passover meal in respect of himself as Saviour and Son of God. .
In ‘On Pascha’, the earliest Christian sermon that has survived from antiquity (written around 167AD), Bishop Melito of Sardis spells out the connection between Jesus and the Passover tradition, that Jesus described himself as fulfilling:
He is the Pascha of our salvation. It is he who in many endured many things: It is he that was in Abel murdered, and in Isaac hound, and in Jacob exiled, and in Joseph sold, and in Moses exposed, and in the lamb slain, and. in David persecuted, and in the prophets dishonoured. It is he that was enfleshed in a virgin, that was hanged on a tree. It is he that has been murdered.
We, like many others, will re-enact the Communion service today, Maundy Thursday. We will remember and give thanks for the gift of Christ to his people – the gift and the command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’. We will lament what followed but rejoice in the Easter dawn that is surely to come, in the light of which we bathe, even in the darkest hours of Good Friday
Lord Christ, you offer us the bread of your body and the wine of your blood. As we are fed and nourished in body and soul, may our hearts and minds be always lifted to you, from whom comes salvation itself. Amen.