On his last evening before the crucifixion, Jesus sat down among his disciples. Like every Jew in Jerusalem, they gathered around unleavened bread, bitter herbs, lamb, and wine as they celebrated Passover.
And on that Thursday evening, Jesus redefined what it meant to remember. His followers would no longer reminisce about their people’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Instead they’d now recall how another lamb—a perfect one—served them and set them free from sin.
As we prepare for our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, it’s easy to mindlessly eat our wafer and drink our grape juice. But Jesus’ sacred supper challenges us to view the meal as more than a sentimental sacrament. Instead it should remind us of our Savior and redefine how we live. Here’s how:
As we remember Christ’s sacrifice, we anticipate His salvation.
Christ’s body would break and His blood would spill for our sin. The picture of a Passover lamb led to the slaughter reminded Israel of their redemption (Exodus 12, Isaiah 53). The unblemished animals—goats, bulls, and lambs—offered on the altar sealed God’s covenant and symbolized His cleansing (Exodus 24; Leviticus 3-6; Leviticus 16).
But it was never enough. Animal sacrifice left the people anticipating a day when a perfect sacrifice would come and make a final payment (Hebrews 9). So as Christ broke the bread and passed the cup, He prepared His disciples for something new. No more sacrifices would be needed for sin, and no more suppers would celebrate old covenants. Instead they’d enjoy a new reminder of their new reality.
The payment also included a promise. Jesus wouldn’t again drink wine until he drank it with His followers in His Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:29). There was an air of sorrow at Jesus’ Last Supper. But there will be a celebration at His next meal.
So as we take the wafer and the cup, we do so in anticipation. We remember the sacrifice that paid for sin. And we ready ourselves for the salvation that’s coming with our Savior’s return.
As we remember Christ’s sacrifice, we submit to His service.
Only John records Jesus’ final act of service (John 13:1-20). Jesus interrupted the meal to offer an object lesson his disciples would never forget. Like a humble slave, the Master stooped down and washed His followers’ smelly feet.
As Jesus rose from His sacrificial posture, He challenged His disciples to do the same. If their Teacher and Lord stooped to the floor, then they could too. They would wash each other’s feet just as He washed theirs.
Any attitude that aspired to a loftier position would be boastful at best. A servant washed his master’s feet—not vice versa. A messenger did his master’s bidding—not the other way around. But Jesus assumed the role reversal to teach His disciples a lesson. There was no service too small when you served the Savior.
Yet it wasn’t an attitude Jesus was after. Piety may start in the mind and heart, but it can never stay there. He told His followers that they were blessed if they not only knew but also obeyed His example (John 13:17). True discipleship authenticates itself through service.
So as we remember Christ’s sacrifice, we respond as His servant. We set aside our position. We rid ourselves of pride. And we serve those who, sometimes selfishly, forget to pick up the wash basin and towel.
It’s Thursday of Passion Week. So as we eat the bread and drink the cup, let’s remember our Savior and respond in celebration and service. Will you join me?
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