Sunday School 03 24 2013

 

“The Lord’s Supper”

Lesson Text: Luke 22:14-30

Background Scripture:  Luke 22:1-38

Devotional Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

 

Luke 22:14-30 (KJV)

14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.

15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:

18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

21 But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!

23 And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.

24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.

25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.

26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.

29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;

30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

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OBJECTIVES

  To understand the privilege of serving.

  To know that Jesus came to serve by pouring out His life into others.

  To remember that Jesus served others unconditionally and unselfishly.   

 

LESSON BACKGROUND

Passover Preparation (Luke 22:1)

   Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were the three most important feasts on the Jewish calendar (Lev. 23); and all the Jewish men were expected to go to Jerusalem each year to celebrate (Deut. 16:16). The Feast of Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for both remembering and rejoicing (Ex. 11-12). Thousands of excited pilgrims crowded in and around Jerusalem during that week, causing the Romans to always be nervous about possible uprisings. Passover had strong political overtones, and it was the ideal time for some would-be messiah to attempt to overthrow Rome. This explains why King Herod and Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, were in Jerusalem instead of being at Tiberius and Caesarea respectively (Luke 13:31-33). They wanted to help keep the peace.

The religious leaders prepared for a crime (Luke 22:2-6)

   It is incredible that these men perpetrated history's greatest crime during Israel's holiest festival. During Passover, the Jews were expected to remove all leaven (yeast) from their houses (Ex. 12:15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in haste and had to eat unleavened bread. Jesus had warned His disciples about the "leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1; also see Matt. 16:6; 1 Cor. 5:1-8), and now we see this hypocrisy at work.

   The religious leaders had cleansed their homes but not their hearts (see Matt. 23:25-28). For a long time now, they had wanted to arrest Jesus and get Him out of the way, but they had not been able to work out a safe plan that would protect them from the people. Judas solved their problem for them. He guaranteed to deliver Jesus to them privately so there would be no uproar from the people. The last thing the Jewish Sanhedrin wanted was a messianic uprising at Passover season (see Luke 19:11).

 

INTRODUCTION

The Intent of Jesus

   Jesus had "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51), knowing full well what would happen to Him there; and now those events were about to occur. They were appointments, not accidents, for they had been determined by the Father and written centuries ago in the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:26-27). We cannot but admire our Saviour and love Him more as we see Him courageously enter into this time of suffering and eventual death. We must remember that He did it for us.

   The Passover supper in the Upper Room gives us the focus for our present study.

Before the Supper: Preparation (Luke 22:7-13)

   Jesus planned a single meal which was to be shared with His disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem. That was a bittersweet time for Jesus: He had looked forward to this fellowship meal, and wanted to share the celebration with them before His time of suffering (22:15). He also knew that He would be betrayed that night by one of His disciples. He knew that that betrayal would set in motion a series of events leading to His crucifixion.

   At that historic meal, Jesus asked His disciples to remember Him whenever they reenacted the meal in the future. This week’s lesson studies Luke’s account of this meal so that we might better understand and remember what our Savior faced on that night.

 

The Lord’s Supper /Last Passover (Luke 22:14-20)

1. Why was Jesus so eager to eat the Passover meal with His disciples? (Luke 22:14-16)

   Jesus revealed His love for His disciples by what He said and by what He did. He told them that He had a great desire to share this last Passover with them before He suffered. Jesus explained that this would be the last time He would eat the Passover “until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (v. 16).  

   Passover commemorated the Exodus of Israel from Egypt centuries before, but He would accomplish a greater "exodus" on the cross. He would purchase redemption from sin for a world of lost sinners (Luke 9:31).

2. Luke mentions two instances in which Jesus and the disciples share a cup at this meal: here in verse 17, and in verse 20 (below). What was the significance (v. 17)?

  Since this is a Passover feast (called seder by modern Jews), there are several traditional parts to the meal. We do not know exactly how Jesus and His disciples organize these traditions, but celebration of a modern seder involves drinking from four cups during the meal. Some identify the cup in this verse with the seder’s third cup, called “the cup of blessing.” Jesus took the third cup and uttered a prayer of thanks to God. He then instructed each of His disciples to take the cup and share its contents among themselves (v. 17).

   The Greek word behind “gave thanks” is the origin of the word Eucharist. This designation is used in some Christian traditions for the Lord’s Supper.

   Jesus emphasized the solemnity of the occasion by stating that He would not “drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” (v. 18).

What Do You Think?

    How can we keep the Lord’s Supper from becoming a source of division rather than   unity?                                                                                                               

Talking Points for Your Discussion

   Differences in doctrinal interpretation | Undue focus on accessories | Entrenched traditions | Other

 

The Bread and the Cup (Luke 22:19-20)

3. What did the bread symbolize?  (v. 19)

The Savior next took unleavened bread, broke it, and passed it around so that each of His disciples could eat a portion of it.  Passover traditions dictate that bread used at this feast be baked without leaven (yeast). This is in accordance with the first Passover meal, celebrated on the eve of the Israelites’ departure from Egypt. On that occasion, the people needed to bake their bread quickly, not having time for dough to rise. Thus it was unleavened (Exodus 12, especially v. 39).

After giving thanks again (see also Luke 24:30), Jesus makes two enduring comments. The first one is the statement this is my body. Some Christian traditions take this to mean that the bread used in Communion services today is somehow transformed into the physical body of Christ. However, this is not what Jesus intends for us to understand. The rich symbolism of the bread lies in breaking the loaf (as Christ’s body is damaged on the cross), in giving the loaf (as Christ gives His life willingly as a sacrifice for our sins), and in the sharing of the loaf among all participants (as Christians share a common faith in Christ).

The other enduring comment is the command this do in remembrance of me. This indicates two things. First, there is a coming time when the disciples of Jesus will celebrate this meal without His being physically present—after all, you don’t have to “remember” someone who is right there with you physically. Jesus is to be remembered for all He did and said, and most of all for the salvation His death provides (see Hebrews 10:10).

Second, Jesus’ command indicates that the disciples are to reenact His symbolic actions in the future. As they do, the last supper becomes the Lord’s Supper in the church (compare 1 Corinthians 11:20-26).

4. What was the significance of the cup? (v. 20)

   The word likewise indicates that this particular cup is also blessed with a thanksgiving and shared among the disciples. As already mentioned, a traditional Passover meal can involve several cups, each symbolizing something different. With this final cup of the evening, Jesus ties the contents of the cup to His death. He does so by comparing the cup with His blood, which is soon to be shed in His upcoming torture and crucifixion.

   The fact that this cup signifies the new covenant indicates a new agreement between God and humanity. This is the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, a covenant of forgiveness (compare Exodus 24:8). The old regime of law is passing, and a new era of grace is beginning. Whenever we drink the cup in our celebrations of the Lord’s Supper, we should remember what a great blessing it is to live under this covenant.

What Do You Think

   Besides this do in remembrance of me, what would be some good inscriptions for Communion tables?  

Talking Points for Your Discussion 

   Matthew 26:26, 27; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:17; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Other 

5. What truths should the believer know about The Last Supper/Communion?

   Jesus sanctified the simple things of life and used them to convey profound spiritual truths. Jesus stated one of the purposes for the Supper: "in remembrance of Me" (1 Cor. 11:24-25). It is a memorial feast to remind the believer that Jesus Christ gave His body and blood for the redemption of the world. As previously mentioned, there is no suggestion in the accounts of the Supper that anything "miraculous" took place when Jesus blessed the bread and the cup. The bread remained bread and the wine remained wine, and the physical act of receiving the elements did not do anything special to the disciples. When we partake, we identify ourselves with His body and blood (1 Cor. 10:16), but there is no suggestion here that we receive His body and blood.

   A second purpose for the supper is the proclaiming of His death until He returns (1 Cor. 11:26). The Supper encourages us to look back with love and adoration to what He did for us on the cross and to look forward with hope and anticipation to His coming again. Since we must be careful not to come to the Lord's table with known sin in our lives, the Supper should also be an occasion for looking within, examining our hearts, and confessing our sins (1 Cor. 11:27-32).

   A third blessing from the Supper is the reminder of the unity of the church: we are "one bread" (1 Cor. 10:17). It is "The Lord's Supper" and is not the exclusive property of any Christian denomination. Whenever we share in the Supper, we are identifying with Christians everywhere and are reminded of our obligation to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).  

 

Sobering Prediction (Luke 22:21-30)

   The Gospel of John records that after the supper Jesus arose, girded Himself with a towel, and washed the disciples' feet, including Judas' (John 13:1-20). Later that evening, the Twelve would argue over which of them was the greatest, so this lesson on humility and service did not penetrate their hearts. It is doubtful that any of those 12 imagine that the lifeless body of Jesus will be lying in a tomb less than 24 hours after this meal concludes.

6. What treachery did Jesus reveal?  (Luke 22:21-22)

   Jesus demonstrates His divine knowledge of the plot against Him (Luke 22:1-6). He had already hinted to His disciples that one of their number was not truly with Him (John 6:66-71), but now He openly spoke about a traitor in their midst. However, He did not do this just for the sake of the disciples, but more for the sake of Judas. Jesus had washed Judas’ feet, and now He was giving Judas another opportunity to repent. It is most significant that Jesus did not openly identify Judas as the traitor but protected him until the very end.

   If Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, why did He choose him in the first place? And, if somebody had to betray the Lord, why condemn Judas? After all, he simply did God's will and fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy (see Ps. 41:9; 55:12-14; compare 109:8 with Acts 1:15-20).

   Before He chose His 12 Apostles, Jesus spent a whole night in prayer (Luke 6:12-16), so we must believe that it was the Father's will that Judas be among them (John 8:29). But the selection of Judas did not seal his fate; rather, it gave him opportunity to watch the Lord Jesus closely, believe, and be saved. God in His sovereignty had determined that His Son would be betrayed by a friend, but divine foreknowledge does not destroy human responsibility or accountability. Judas made each decision freely and would be judged accordingly, even though he still fulfilled the decree of God (Acts 2:23).

7. How did the disciples respond to Jesus’ prediction?  (Luke 22:23,24)

   The fact that the disciples were puzzled by this strange announcement reveals that they did not know Judas' true character, their own hearts ("Which of us could do such a terrible thing?"), or the prophecies in the psalms. Nor did they remember the Lord's statements that He would be betrayed into the hands of the enemy (Matt. 17:22; 20:18). If Peter had fully understood what was happening, he might have used his sword on Judas!  

   At some point, this discussion seems to degenerate, making a transition from claims of having the greatest love for the Master to claims of being the greatest (Luke 22:24). This was not the first time the disciples had committed this sin (Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48), but in the light of what their Lord had said and done that evening, this latest exhibition was inexcusable. Perhaps the argument grew out of their speculating over who would betray Him, or there may have been some jealousy over the way they had been seated at the table. When you are interested in promoting yourself, it doesn't take much to start an argument.  

What Do You Think? 

   Is there any place for a competitive spirit within the church? Why, or why not? 

Talking Points for Your Discussion

1 Corinthians 11:19; Philippians 2:3; Other?

8. How does Jesus use this opportunity to teach the disciples? (Luke 22:25-27)

   Rather than condemning the disciples for vying for position, Jesus uses an example that grabs their attention: that of earthly rulers. Jesus’ point is that the kings and other rulers exercise their power over people in a self-serving manner while thinking of themselves as benefactors in the process. Jesus’ implication is that these Gentile rulers primarily benefit themselves. This underlying truth is well-known to Jesus’ disciples.

   Having established the pattern of self-serving rulers, Jesus gives two other examples of social priority to make his point. Younger men of the first century are considered social inferiors to their elders. Slaves or servants are always in a lesser position than their masters. Jesus turns this leadership model inside out by proclaiming the greatest one is not the person ordering others around, but the one who serves others.

  Jesus goes on to use the example of a banquet (v. 27), asking if the one who is being served (he that sitteth at meat) is greater than the one who serves. This is the image of the rich man who presides over a lavish feast versus the servant who brings the food and clears the dishes. The immediate assumption of the rich man being the greater is thrown out when Jesus places himself in the role of the servant. Greatness in God’s kingdom is found in serving others rather than self.

   True greatness means to be like Jesus, and that means being a servant to others. A servant does not argue over who is the greatest, because he knows that he is the least, and he accepts this from the hand of God. Since all Christians are to be servants, there is no reason for us to compete with one another for honors and recognition. It is too bad that this competitive spirit is so strong in the church today as people promote themselves and their

What Do You Think?

   When was a time you were surprised to be blessed as you served someone else?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

   In a benevolence setting | In a teaching setting | In a counseling setting | Other

9. What did Jesus commend His disciples for? (Luke 22:28-30)

   Jesus turns from His corrective rebuke to commend His disciples for staying true to Him during His temptations (Luke 22:28). By this Jesus refers to the times when He and His disciples were in physical danger from Jesus’ opponents (compare John 11:8, 16). He may also be referring to the satanic attacks that were present throughout His ministry. 

   Jesus closed this lesson on servanthood by reminding them of their future reward in the kingdom (v. 29). In spite of their weaknesses and failures, the disciples had stood by Jesus during His earthly ministry, and God would honor them for their faithfulness. We should not mind being servants today, for we shall sit on thrones in the future kingdom! For that matter, our faithful service today is preparing us for the rewards we shall receive. Jesus has set the example: first the cross, then the crown.

   Finally, Jesus points the disciples to a wondrous future time when there will be another great fellowship meal (v. 30). This will be in Jesus’ kingdom. It is a marvelous image: a lavish table of food and drink, with the disciples reunited with Jesus. The image is one of a victory banquet in which Jesus’ followers would rejoice in His triumph (see Rev. 19:9). They also would be given the right to rule at His return (see Matt. 19:28; 2 Tim. 2:12). In fact, the authority that the Son would bestow on them was like the authority that the Father had bestowed on Him (see Luke 22:29-30). But Jesus is the master king at this table, for it is His table. He is the King of kings, as appointed by God!

 

POINTS TO PONDER

1.  The Lord desires to have fellowship with us. His supper would be a reminder to us of what He did on the cross.  (Luke 22:14-19)

2. Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself made it possible for God to establish a new covenant in which forgiveness and knowledge of Him would be possible for all who believed (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:20; John 3:16).

3.  Don’t worry about your enemies, love them and leave them to Jesus… for He is aware, and has authority over everything! (Luke 6:35; 22:21-23).

4. Remember, the greatest is always the one willing to serve. (Luke 22:24-27)

5. Faithfulness has its reward. (Luke 22:28-30)

 

CONCLUSION

Remembering 

  Collective memory is important. It has been said that the one who controls the memories of a community controls its future. Some cultures value elderly people because they are the ones whose memory stretches back the furthest. As important as the issue of remembering is, however, another important issue is that of forgetting. 

  Sometimes we wish we had more control over our forgetting, for there are things we would like to forget but cannot. But certain things should be—must be—remembered. A memory that is neglected and unused will fade over the years. Memory works best when it is “jogged.” How do we jog our memories about the most important things in life, things that must not be lost? Families may do this by taking out photo albums of past events, remembering loved ones who are gone but not forgotten. The church has a superb way of remembering the essential truths of the Christian faith in its celebration of the Lord’s Supper. 

  Although there may be many variations in its practice, the Lord’s Supper should always serve to help us remember. The broken bread we use helps us remember the body of Christ, broken in the death on that lonely cross outside of Jerusalem. The cup should help us remember that our salvation was made possible through the blood of Christ, given freely as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. 

  A paradox of the Lord’s Supper is that while it symbolizes bloody brokenness, it is also a great unifying factor for the church. We remember Christ’s body broken for us, but we should also look for the unbroken body, the church, which is the body of Christ on earth. We should share around the Lord’s table in fellowship, not isolation. This is why it is called Communion, for we have communing fellowship with other Christians and with the Lord. 

  The next time you participate in your church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, take time to remember these things: blood as a price for your forgiveness, a body broken out of our Savior’s love for us, and a body (the church) united in allegiance to its Lord.  

PRAYER 

   Father, as we remember Your Son in the bread and cup, may You lead our hearts in joyful obedience toward Your throne of glory. We pray in the name of the one who died for us, Jesus, amen.  

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER 

   Sharing in the Lord’s Supper sustains our spirits.  

ANTICIPATING THE NEXT LESSON 

   Our next lesson continues in the book of Luke, where Jesus will reveal Himself after the resurrection. Study Luke 24:1-35, “The Lord Lives” (Resurrection Sunday).

 


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