(Consider having some unleavened bread-bread made without yeast- and grape juice to use at some point in your lesson.)
1. What are some key events we commemorate in our society? (President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence’s Day, Veteran’s Day, and Christmas are the main days.)
2. What are some key events we commemorate in our families?
What makes these days worthy of remembering? (These are days we pause to recall important happy events like marriage anniversaries, birthdays, etc.; Then there are days that are solemn remembrances of passed loved ones, joyous celebrations of freedom, and a day to honor those who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy.)
Today’s study is a time and ceremony set aside to remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for each one of us. Jesus instituted this new ordinance after the observance of the Passover meal with His disciples. Passover marked the final plague in Egypt when all firstborns died, but the Israelites were unharmed because of the blood smeared on their doorposts. The unleavened bread reminded the people that they left Egypt with such haste that there was no time to put leaven in their bread.
The Lord’s Supper, as it has come to be known, commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice for our freedom from the bondage of sin. Here Jesus established a new covenant with God made possible through Jesus’ shed blood and broken body. In a sense Jesus did away with Passover and established a new commemoration of His broken body and shed blood!
Preparation! Read Matthew 26:17-19
Jewish people crowded into Jerusalem yearly for the Passover. They secured places to eat the Passover meal as families. Jesus and His disciples had become a family, and they needed an appropriate room. Jesus gave them directions as to where they could find such a room.
We don’t know how Jesus knew the man He sent the disciples to, but the point is that arrangements were made.
1. What preparations had to be made for the feast? (One source said, “The lamb had to be taken to the temple to be slaughtered. The blood was poured on the altar. Then it was returned to the house and roasted. It had to be ready by sunset.”)
Jesus was about to fulfill and reveal a new meaning for the annual Passover feast. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper would be to remember the new covenant including Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and promise of salvation to all who believe.
2. What preparations should a person take when preparing to participate in a Lord’s Supper observance?
Betrayal! Read Matthew 26:20-25
1. How did the disciples respond to Jesus’ declaration that one of them would betray Him? (They were “deeply distressed”, and each one denied that they would betray Jesus.)
2. What do we notice different about how Judas addressed Jesus? (The other disciples addressed Jesus as “Lord”. Judas addressed His simply as “Rabbi” or “Teacher”, not Lord!)
What happened was all part of God’s plan, yet Judas acted of his own free will and faced judgment because of his betrayal. There is a vast difference in “foreknowledge” and “predestination”! God knew Judas would betray Jesus but God did not make him do it.
3. What was the difference in Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial?
4. In what ways can or do we betray Jesus today? (Some betray Him today by rejecting His gift of salvation and abundant life. Others betray Jesus in subtle ways—by not taking a stand for Jesus when the opportunity is there, by not sharing about the gift of eternal life we have received, or by not loving others as He commands us to do.)
In the observance of Passover the bread was dipped into a bowl of bitter herbs which represented the bitterness of the slavery the Israelites endured, their new meaning was the bitterness of Jesus’ suffering!
Remembrance! Read Matthew 26:26-30
Leaven was a symbol of sin, so unleavened bread, bread without yeast, was symbolic of a life cleansed of sin.
1. What new symbolism did Jesus place upon the broken bread?
2. The four cups during the Passover stood for the four “I wills” in Ex. 6:6-7; “I will bring you out; I will deliver you; I will redeem you; I will take you as my people”.
3. How does Jesus provide these four things?
Jesus had made the Lord’s Supper a time of remembrance of His sacrifice, His broken body, and His shed blood. In verse 29, He shares something else to be remembered: that one day we will celebrate with Jesus in heaven. This is a wonderful promise for Christians to celebrate, anticipate, and remember as the Lord’s Supper is observed!
4. What do Jesus’ actions in this passage reveal about His mission and purpose?
5. In what ways does the Lord’s Supper motivate you to live differently in light of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection?
6. How does remembering Jesus’ sacrifice help us in daily living? (If we do not remember Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, it’s easy to take for granted the price paid for our salvation. Remembering His sacrifice gives us strength and hope as we face each day’s challenges.)
7. How can we keep the memory of these symbols fresh in our own hearts each time we take part in the Lord’s Supper? (Sometimes when we do things regularly we can start to feel like we are just going through the motions. We should never let the Lord’s Supper become a mindless behavior. Each time we approach the Lord’s Supper we can thank God for the sacrifice He made on our behalf and remember afresh the abundant life we have because of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Evaluate your observance of the Lord’s Supper: What does it mean to you?
2. What element has today’s study brought to light that can make your celebration even more meaningful?
3. What are the best ways we can remember Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf?
· By thanking God daily for His provision and care.
· By being diligently loyal to Christ.
· By observing the Lord’s Supper regularly, always mindful of the price paid for our redemption.
Perhaps we can carve out some time this week to pause and reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for you, individually. Then when you approach the Lord’s Supper, look at the table—the bread and the cup—with fresh eyes, appreciating all Jesus has done for you!