The Next-to-Last Supper

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus gathered with his disciples to break bread and share a meal in celebration of the Passover.  It was at this meal that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, an ordinance of the Church that is celebrated in remembrance of him: in remembrance of his broken body, symbolized by the broken bread, and in remembrance of his spilled blood, symbolized by the cup of poured out wine.

This historic meal has come to be known as The Last Supper, the title of da Vinci’s  famous mural pictured above, because it was the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples before he was crucified.  Jesus, however, never intended this meal to be his last with his disciples.  After partaking of the cup of the new covenant with his disciples, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).  In declaring this, Jesus foretold of a future time when he would again sup with his disciples.  This future meal, of which the Lord’s Supper is only a type, is a theme that can be traced throughout Scripture and has come to be called the Messianic Banquet.

Isaiah foretold of this great feast in Isaiah 25:6:

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.

Jesus also spoke of a great marriage feast to come in Matthew 22, a theme that John picked up when he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Revelation:

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” -Revelation 19:9

When Paul taught the Church of Corinth about the Lord’s Supper, he made clear that the purpose of observing this ordinance is to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).  When we observe the Lord’s Supper, it is to accomplish a twofold task.  First, we are to remember the propitiatory death of our Lord and Savior on our behalf (Hebrews 2:17), which is the only means by which we can be saved.  But just as importantly, we are also to anticipate the return of our Lord and Savior, who on that day will “drink of this fruit of the vine” with us at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, which is the true Last Supper.

(Thanks goes out to my friend Keith Christensen who taught on 1 Corinthians 11 so as to illuminate this point so clearly)


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