The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it and said something none of His disciples expected.
In order to appreciate the unexpected, we need to know what the disciples expected.
The Last Supper was not an ordinary meal. It was a meal of remembrance known as the Passover, celebrated each year (Exod. 12:1–51, Matt. 26:17-19). Jesus and His disciples were celebrating and remembering the faithfulness of God in delivering the Israelites out of lives characterized by bitterness, slavery and meaningless death in Egypt.
After a series of nine plagues, Pharaoh remained unmoved. The Israelites were captive to an evil tyrant and slaves to a power greater than themselves. They were completely incapable of delivering themselves from their bondage, and only God could provide the Exodus they needed. God heard, remembered, saw and loved His people (Exod. 2:23-25) and had determined to rescue, redeem and deliver His people.
God threatened the final plague, the death of the firstborn. Through Moses and Aaron, the LORD said the Destroyer would come at midnight, bringing judgment through the death of the firstborn, yet Pharaoh remained hardened. Unlike the other plagues, this one would not be reversed, nor would the Jews be exempt from judgment unless they took shelter under the blood of a spotless lamb.
A Spotless Lamb
Though the Egyptians were the oppressors, though they worshiped idols, the Israelites were not blameless. The Scriptures say that the Israelites were guilty of idol worship (Josh. 24:14). Their being Hebrew would not save them; only the blood of the lamb would allow the Destroyer to passover them.
The Israelites were to take a spotless lamb, kill it and paint its blood on the doorposts of their homes. They were to have a special meal with the roasted lamb – bitter herbs and unleavened bread. It would be a meal to remember how, that day, the LORD brought salvation.
At about midnight, the Destroyer came and brought judgment on every house in Egypt, both Jew and Egyptian. That night there was either a dead son or a dead lamb. It was one or the other. For those who placed their faith in God and took shelter under the blood of the lamb, the lamb got what the son deserved. The lamb was a substitute paying the debt of judgment so that the firstborn did not.
That night each Jewish home took shelter under a Passover lamb, yet it was a shadow of what they really needed.
Generations would celebrate the Passover meal, remembering the salvation that the LORD brought in Egypt. They would sacrifice a lamb, remembering how its blood provided a distinction and a covering from the Destroyer. They would take unleavened bread and say, “This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate when they came from the land of Egypt.”
The Spotless Lamb
And so, on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, the disciples celebrated the Passover meal. And when Jesus stood up, they expected to hear, “This is the bread of our affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt (Deut. 16:3). Let all who are hungry come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover with us.”
Instead, he took the bread and said, “This is my body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19).
Jesus was saying, “This is no longer the bread of affliction of your ancestors; this is the bread of my affliction. I am going to suffer to give you the ultimate freedom from the bondage of sin and the curse of death.”
Jesus was saying, “I am The Passover Lamb; My body will suffer the ultimate affliction.”
When John the Baptist saw Jesus for the first time, he even said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Both the religious and the irreligious have nothing to bring to the table to face judgment. All are guilty and all are deserving of judgment. The only hope is to take shelter under The Passover Lamb. This is why the ancient refrain can proclaim, “O the sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in the one righteous person, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners” (Epistle to Diognetus).
This Easter season, remember and worship Jesus Christ whose body was broken for you so that you could experience the ultimate Exodus if you will take shelter under the blood of The Passover Lamb.