The Last Supper and The Value of Jesus’ Sacrifice

By putting together the following accounts of the same event, much comes to light. Comments are after the accounts.

Compare the accounts at Matthew 26:19-30, Mark 14:16-26, Luke 22:13-30, and John 13:1- 14:31 below:

  • Matthew 26:19-30 (WEB); “19 The disciples did as Jesus commanded them, and they prepared the Passover.

    20 Now when evening had come, he was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, he said, “Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me.”

    22 They were exceedingly sorrowful, and each began to ask him, “It isn’t me, is it, Lord?”

    23 He answered, “He who dipped his hand with me in the dish will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes even as it is written of him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born.”

    25 Judas, who betrayed him, answered, “It isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?”

    He said to him, “You said it.”

    26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for[a] it, and broke it. He gave to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, “All of you drink it, 28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I tell you that I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

    30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

  • Mark 14:16-26 (WEB); “16 His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found things as he had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.

    17 When it was evening he came with the twelve. 18 As they sat and were eating, Jesus said, “Most certainly I tell you, one of you will betray me—he who eats with me.”

    19 They began to be sorrowful, and to ask him one by one, “Surely not I?” And another said, “Surely not I?”

    20 He answered them, “It is one of the twelve, he who dips with me in the dish. 21 For the Son of Man goes, even as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born.”

    22 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed, he broke it, and gave to them, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body.”

    23 He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them. They all drank of it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Most certainly I tell you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in God’s Kingdom.” 26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

  • Luke 22:13-30 (WEB); 13 They went, found things as Jesus had told them, and they prepared the Passover. 14 When the hour had come, he sat down with the twelve apostles. 15 He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16 for I tell you, I will no longer by any means eat of it until it is fulfilled in God’s Kingdom.” 17 He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, 18 for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until God’s Kingdom comes.”

    19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” 20 Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 The Son of Man indeed goes, as it has been determined, but woe to that man through whom he is betrayed!”

    23 They began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. 24 A dispute also arose among them, which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 He said to them, “The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so with you. But one who is the greater among you, let him become as the younger, and one who is governing, as one who serves. 27 For who is greater, one who sits at the table, or one who serves? Isn’t it he who sits at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. 29 I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 

  • John 13:1 – 14:31 (WEB);

    13 Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and was going to God, arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”

    Jesus answered him, “You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.”

    Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!”

    Jesus answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.”

    Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

    10 Jesus said to him, “Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, “You are not all clean.” 12 So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should also do as I have done to you. 16 Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither is one who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I don’t speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen. But that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.’Psalm 41:9 19 From now on, I tell you before it happens, that when it happens, you may believe that I am he. 20 Most certainly I tell you, he who receives whomever I send, receives me; and he who receives me, receives him who sent me.”

    21 When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me.”

    22 The disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was at the table, leaning against Jesus’ breast. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”

    25 He, leaning back, as he was, on Jesus’ breast, asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

    26 Jesus therefore answered, “It is he to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the piece of bread, then Satan entered into him.

    Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

    28 Now nobody at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus said to him, “Buy what things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 Therefore having received that morsel, he went out immediately. It was night.

    31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I will be with you a little while longer. You will seek me, and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you can’t come,’ so now I tell you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

    Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you can’t follow now, but you will follow afterwards.”

    37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

    38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for me? Most certainly I tell you, the rooster won’t crow until you have denied me three times.

    14 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. You know where I go, and you know the way.”

    Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him.”

    Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

    Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake. 12 Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13 Whatever you will ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, [a] that he may be with you forever: 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him and doesn’t know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 One who has my commandments and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.”

    22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, what has happened that you are about to reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”

    23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. 24 He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me. 25 I have said these things to you while still living with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. 28 You heard how I told you, ‘I go away, and I come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I said ‘I am going to my Father;’ for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens so that when it happens, you may believe. 30 I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father commanded me, even so I do. Arise, let’s go from here.

Conclusions:

Remember what John the baptizer stated when Jesus came to him as recorded at John 1:29 (WEB); “The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The last meal that Jesus had with his disciples highly symbolized the value of what he was talking to the crowds about earlier. That is, the value of his blood and flesh, symbolized by the bread and wine, in sacrifice for all of mankind. Jesus was to be the “sacrificial lamb” for the redemption of mankind, just as the sacrificial lamb provided salvation back in Egypt. 

Partaking of the wine and unleavened bread signifies acknowledging and remembering Jesus’ ransom sacrifice for redemption which includes the forgiveness of sins – But not sins against his father (Jehovah) as only Jehovah can forgive those. Compare Matthew 12:31-32; Zechariah 3:1-7

Judas was eating and drinking with them as he dipped his bread as Jesus mentioned. Compare Luke 22:14-21 WEB where Jesus states the the hand of his betrayer is at the table. This is after Jesus told them to eat and drink. However, Judas must have left by the time Jesus made a covenant with his loyal disciples for a kingdom, a little later that night (Luke 22:28-30 WEB). Judas was working toward betraying Jesus.

The “new covenant” mentioned in Luke 22:19-20 is not the same as the “covenant” mentioned in verses 28-30 of the same chapter. The “new covenant” was for the forgiveness of sins of many. With the forgiveness of sins via a perfect sacrifice, in this case, Jesus’ body, there is no need for any more sacrifices. Compare Daniel 9:27b where it states that “At the half of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease.”

The act of eating and drinking of the bread and wine does not differentiate between those who will rule with Christ or not, as some think. It’s about remembering the value of his perfect sacrifice for everybody. That is why he was sent. As John 3:17 brings out, Jesus was sent for the world, not just those who will rule with him. His perfect sacrifice and the value it has for all of mankind is what the meal is about. The covenant to those 11 loyal remaining disciples was made later, after the meal.

  • John 3:17 (WEB):17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.”

Further information:

Unleavened bread and wine were used and it could be done anytime as it is brought out by Paul’s thoughts at 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; 11:20-34

  • 1 Cor. 5:6-8 (WEB): “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump? Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let’s keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
  • 1 Cor. 5:11:20-34 (WEB): “20 When therefore you assemble yourselves together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in your eating each one takes his own supper first. One is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What, don’t you have houses to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise God’s assembly and put them to shame who don’t have enough? What shall I tell you? Shall I praise you? In this I don’t praise you.

    23 For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread. 24 When he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me.” 25 In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgment to himself if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. 31 For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest your coming together be for judgment. The rest I will set in order whenever I come.”

There is much speculation regarding the timing of the events and on what days things happened. It is important to remember that a “day” was considered to start at sunset. Perhaps it might be easier for some to think of it as a “date” or “time period for one day.”


The best explanation, that I could find, for the timing of the events are below:

Much of this has been taken from The Original Gospel of Matthew Volume 2 by Standford Rives. Esq. page 118. I believe that there are a few mistakes by either the author of the book or by the works of Daniel Gregg, of which he was referencing. I have summarized the timeline below:

Jesus had the arrangements to have the location for the Passover meal prepared. This was done ahead of time to rid the house of fermented bread. This was mentioned (Matthew 26:2) on Nissan 13 (Monday). Remember, Nissan 14 (Tuesday) would start at sunset, although it still would be “Monday” for a few hours.

Jesus, has the “Lord’s Supper” at the beginning of Nissan 14 (Early Tuesday). This was not the official Passover meal, as it was not Nissan 15. Judas was among those eating the meal, but then left early. Sometime after the meal, Jesus and his remaining disciples went out at night. Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Jesus died as the sacrificial lamb around 3PM, on Nissan 14. This was late Tuesday before sunset. After sunset would be the start of Nissan 15.

In Egypt, the “Passover lamb” was killed around 3PM, on Nissan 14, and the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts, on Nissan 14. When the sun set, it was Nissan 15. A few hours later, around midnight, the Angel of Yahweh knew to pass by (pass over) the house that had the lamb’s blood on the doorposts. No one would be put to death in those homes. The Passover meal was eaten on Nissan 15. As for the rest of the homes in Egypt, the Angel of Yahweh put to death all the first-born sons. Pharaoh immediately commanded the Israelites to go! God had freed his people! (Exodus 12)

 

More information regarding the value of Jesus’ sacrifice:

John the baptizer, upon seeing Jesus, proclaimed, “Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

We get some good lessons from just this proclamation.

In ancient Israel, sacrifices were presented to Yahweh, for the forgiveness of sins. However, the practice had to continue because there was not a perfect sacrifice – Until Jesus.

Jesus’ sacrifice was for the redemption of sins, for the entire world. John did not say that this was just for Israel, but for the world! (John 3:16-17)

As Jesus had his last evening meal with his disciples, he used the bread in an illustrative way to represent his flesh. He also used the wine to represent his blood (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Together, they provide a complete and perfect sacrifice. Just as the sacrifice of the lamb was used in Egypt to deliver God’s people from Pharaoh’s bondage, Jesus’ sacrifice is so powerful, it can release people out from the bondage of sin, of which all mankind inherited from Adam, and have the prospects of everlasting life! This means salvation!

Many people, are rightly confused with the timing of the events surrounding the death of Jesus. Terminology has changed over the centuries and we have to deal with different ways of defining parts of a day, such as when a day starts, or different time periods of a 24-hour period. Simply put, for those who do not know, the Jewish “day” runs from sunset to sunset. Most of us are used to a “day” running from midnight to midnight. So, the Jewish day will start a few hours earlier than what most of us are used to.

Going back to the original writings of the events, it helps clarify matters.

Let’s start with the account in Exodus 12 regarding the last day Israel was bound by Pharaoh of Egypt:

Exodus 12 (NIV);

Notice that the lamb was to be slaughtered during the “twilight” on the 14th of Nissan (Ex.12:6 NIV). It is important to realize that this is using the terminology of early commentators that held the view that “twilight” is a period before sunset and that “night” begins immediately with sunset. (Jewishvirtuallibrary.org / “Day and Night”) In contrast, modern Jewish law states that from the time that the sun sets to “all dark” is to be called, “twilight.” We are going to focus on the oldest terminology related to the time period, where “twilight” was considered a time period before sunset. That fits with Exodus 12. Interestingly, the NETS words the timing of the killing of the Lamb as, “shall slay it towards evening.”

Notice the instructions to not eat the meat raw or boil it but to roast it over fire (Ex.12:8-9). This had to take time. If the lamb was slaughtered at twilight, on the 14th of Nissan, the meat and the rest of the meal probably was not ready to eat until into the 15th of Nissan, after the sun had set.

The Orthodox Jewish Bible clarifies it by stating in Ex. 12:6-8;

And it will be with you for mishmeret (examination, checking for blemishes) up until the fourteenth day of the same month; and kol Kehal Adat Yisroel shall slaughter (shachat) it in the afternoon [before dark].

And they shall take of the dahm, and strike it upon the two mezuzot (doorposts) and on the mashkof (lintel) of the batim (houses), wherein they shall eat it.

And they shall eat the basar in that night, roasted over eish, and matzot; and with maror they shall eat it. 

Compare Ex. 12:6-8 (NIV);

Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

Notice that the the Lamb was to be slaughtered in the afternoon, Nissan 14 and that the eating of the meal was to be at nighttime, Nissan 15

It was at midnight, Nissan 15, that God’s angel killed all the firstborn in Egypt. But he “passed over” the homes with the blood of the sacrifice on the door posts. That blood meant life! Shortly after that, still during the night of Nissan 15, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Arron and told them to leave Egypt with the Israelites! The Israelites left in a hurry and had little time to prepare food for the trip. They had no time to allow bread to ferment with yeast. They had to go! And thus, for a reminder, this is why during Nissan 15, bread that is eaten has no yeast (Ex. 12:31-39).

Interestingly, Exodus 12:48-51 shows that foreigners could partake just as a natural Hebrew.