As Christians, we have grown very accustomed to doing the same things every Sunday. We sing, we pray, we listen to the sermon, and we wait for the service to be over so we can go out to eat. We also take of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, at least those of us who have been baptized. But why do we do this, and why do we do this every week? I recommend having your Bible with you while we study this, because there are a lot of verses to look up.
First, let’s start by turning to Exodus 12. God was going to take the life of every firstborn in Egypt, from Pharaoh’s son to animals. However, to protect Israel, God told them in Exodus 12: 5 – 7 to take a firstborn lamb without blemish and sacrifice it, using its body for food for dinner, which was eaten with unleavened bread, and its blood to paint over their door as protection. When the angel of the Lord saw the blood on the Israelites’ doorposts, it would pass over that house and leave the firstborn of that household alone. If the blood wasn’t over the doorposts, then the Angel of the Lord would kill the firstborn of that house. In Exodus 12:17 -20, and verse 14, God institutes the Passover Feast, and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, as a memorial for Israel to have every year.
Now, God is really good about trying to help His people, who are very physical and near-sighted, understand spiritual things. He uses symbols a lot throughout the Bible as teaching tools. What He did with the Passover feast was give His people a bunch of different physical objects that they could use each year to help them remember their spiritual and physical dependence on God: the lamb, the blood of the lamb, and the unleavened bread.
Let’s read Exodus 12: 3 – 8. So, the lamb was supposed to be “without blemish” and “a male” (Exodus 12:5). Lambs are symbols of innocence, and they were also called to be blameless. That sacrifice was necessary to protect and preserve the lives of all of the firstborns of Israel, and so, the lamb is a symbol of sacrifice.
Second, the blood was a symbol of protection. Read verses 7, 13 and 23. The blood was what caused God to pass over each household that bore the blood of the lamb, and saved the people of Israel. Whenever the Israelites had the Passover feast each year, they would remember that God saw the blood of the lamb, and didn’t kill the firstborn.
Thirdly, the unleavened bread was a reminder of how fast the Israelites had to leave Egypt. Read verses 39, and 17-20. The unleavened bread was a symbol of haste, and of Israel’s departure from slavery in Egypt.
So, the lamb, the blood, and the bread are all symbols. The Passover feast is how God wanted the Israelites to remember how He led them out of Egypt. They celebrated the Passover memorial the first night of the week of the unleavened bread. How does this relate at all to the Lord’s Supper?
Matthew 26:19 says that they were gathered together to eat the Passover feast. This is the night that Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, and he does against the backdrop of taking the Passover feast. Read verse 26. They already had the unleavened bread there, because they were eating the Passover meal. Read verse 27-29. Jesus used the grape juice, the fruit of the vine, as a symbol for His Blood. Jesus uses those same symbols from the Passover as symbols because the Passover was a foreshadow for the Lord’s supper.
The Passover lamb, talked about in Exodus 12, is actually a foreshadow of Jesus. Read I Peter 1:19, and I Corinthians 5:7, which actually calls Jesus our Passover Lamb. Jesus was pure, blameless, and He was sacrificed, just like the Passover Lamb, to save us.
The blood of the Lamb, like in the Passover, is what God sees when He sees a Christian. That’s how He knows to pass over us, and forgive our sins. Read Romans 3:25, Revelation 3:25, and I John 1:7. Jesus’ blood saves us, but much more deeply and effectively than Lamb’s blood ever could (Hebrews 10:4).
The Unleavened Bread represents Jesus’ body, which is also the church. The fact that it’s unleavened, when leaven represents sin, means that His body is without sin and without blemish, as it says in I Corinthians 5:6-8.
So, basically, the Passover and the Lord’s Supper are the same thing. One represents when God helped Israel escape Egyptian slavery, and the other when He helped His children escape slavery to sin. But why do Christians take it every week if the Israelites took the Passover once a year? It’s easy to become distracted by the world. Having this reminder of the sacrifice He gave for us once a week is a good way to remind ourselves as Christians what our goals are.
The thing about taking the Lord’s supper, though, is that, while it is simple, there is a wrong way to take it, and it is dangerous. I Corinthians 11: 20 – 34 is a discussion of the Lord’s supper. Verse 27 is a heavy reminder of how important the Lord’s supper is for. It is a memorial service for Jesus, who died to save us from our sins, who fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies and was crucified for us. However, memorial services don’t mean anything to you if you didn’t know the person who was being remembered. Have you ever been to the funeral of a relative you didn’t know very well? It’s uncomfortable, because everyone is sad except you, because they all knew him or her, and you didn’t. That’s why we have to be focused on Jesus all week, not just for ten minutes on Sunday. We have to build a relationship with Him throughout our whole entire lives, not just the day of the week we set aside for Him.