In Matthew 26:26-30 readers are presented with the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The depths of enlightenment are moving and profound when one invests time into the passage. One of the marvelous aspects of this passage is the picture we find of Christ. The insights contained can do nothing less than cause believers to place themselves into a position of worship and surrender. It is therefore, a passage worthy of more attention than we give it.
In a previous post, which you can read here, I took the opportunity to look at two presentations of Christ, first as the suffering Savior (v. 26) and second as the sacrificial Savior (v. 27-28). However, the Lord’s Supper passage continues on and demonstrates two more points about who Jesus Christ is.
The Sovereign Savior (v. 29)
I tell you I will not drink again of this great of the new vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom
There is much that we can unpack from that verse if we had the time. However, one of the key elements that must be considered is the emphasis of this verse. While many are quick to fixate upon Christ’s pledge in this verse, the immediate focus should be on Christ’s promise. He is looking forward to the completion of the Lord’s plan. What we see is a Lord who is in complete control of the events that comprise the cosmos. Thus when there is a promise of things to come, believers can find it easy to trust that things will occur just as Christ has indicated. This is why Paul writes “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Because the Lord is coming
The Submissive Savior (v. 30)
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
I am of the opinion that within these few words contain some of the most beautiful words of Scripture. To see that beauty though, one must ask, “What did they sing?” Admittedly there exists some conjecture, however, it is most likely they sung what is known as the Hallel (Hallel means praise, which is where we get our word Hallelujah that signifies praise to the Lord). This is a reasonable assertion because traditionally portions were sung before the meal and concluded with the singing of the remaining portion. So what is the Hallel? Psalms 113-118. Before the meal, traditionally participants sang Psalms 113-115, and after the meal, they sang Psalms 116-118.
There is great beauty in reading those Psalms in light of the fact that our Lord sang them at the Last Supper knowing that he would soon be placed upon the cross to bear the sins of men. Within these Psalms comes some beautiful verses. Pay particular attention to Psalm 118:22-24 in which the Psalmist writes:
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Some of these words are very familiar to many people because a portion of them are the basis for a popular Sunday morning song.
However, that song fails to take into the context of what is taking place. Verse 22 stipulates that the stone that is rejected will become the cornerstone, a clear indication of the rejection of Christ. Even more, consider that from John 13 Christ was acutely aware of his impending death. In light of the context of Psalm 118 and Christ’s understanding of what is to take place, we see a picture of a Savior being lead to the cross and yet is still able to rejoice over this day that the Lord has made. It is a day that was set in history before history began, a day in which salvation would be extended to people as innocent blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins.
The passage consisting of Christ’s institution of the Lord’s supper presents a picture of our Lord. We see him as the suffering Savior, the sacrificial Savior, the sovereign Savior, and the submissive Savior. Through the remembrance of this event we see a love of God for His people and a love of God the Son for God the Father. It is a love that culminates in our love for Christ which generates a love for others as well; in fact, I would say that our love for others is a reflection of our love for Christ. Therefore, as we read the Lord’s supper, I pray that we each would reflect upon our Lord and Savior, seeing who He is through the passage and ultimately being provoked to a greater love for Him.
Photo “Holy Cross at Sunrise” courtesy of user Sean MacEntee and Flickr.