While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
A Note from Mark:
A couple of weeks ago our devotions were written by my friend and colleague Tim Yee. In case you missed my introduction then, I’ll share it again here.
I want to introduce you to my friend Tim Yee. I have known Tim for many years as an exceptional student of mine, a colleague in kingdom work, and a brother in Christ. He is the pastor of the Union Church of Los Angeles, a Japanese-American church that is now building a diverse community in the midst of downtown Los Angeles. Every week, Tim serves leaders in the business community as well as homeless people from Skid Row. He pastors senior adults and urban Millennials. He is living on the front edge of the kingdom of God. Tim’s four devotions, two of which will run today and tomorrow, are thoughtful reflections on how the reality of Communion informs and shapes our life in Christ for the world. I commend these devotions to you with gratitude for Tim and his pastoral leadership.
When you read Matthew’s account of the Last Supper, something is missing from this Passover meal, in which Jesus powerfully transforms it into a meal about himself. Let me explain what I mean.
The Last Supper was originally a full Passover meal with meat, bread, herbs and wine — a much more substantial meal than my church’s slivers of pita bread dipped in grape juice! What is interesting is that the Gospels never mention the roasted lamb, which was an essential staple of the Passover meal. The lamb was the sacrifice that covered their sins. Where is it in Jesus’ Last Supper?
Think about your Thanksgiving meal. In my family, we not only have Turkey but also Chinese dim sum and sushi — which always confused my friends unfamiliar with Asian-American traditions. I’d be at their house for Thanksgiving and ask, “Where’s the Chinese food?” Matthew’s account of the Last Supper might leave Jews wondering, “Where’s the lamb?” In fact, none of the Gospels record any reference to a lamb. Why does Jesus not even speak of it?
I would suggest that the sacrificial lamb is no longer needed on the table because Jesus the Messiah, the ultimate Sacrificial Lamb is at the table!
When Jesus transforms the Passover meal into the Lord’s Supper he is saying salvation is now near. He purposely doesn’t choose the lamb to represent His body because, with His sacrifice on the cross, a sacrificial lamb is no longer needed. Jesus is the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, the final Lamb that bridges the chasm between broken humanity and a perfect loving God.
A recent Lifeway survey revealed Americans’ top New Year’s resolutions, with number one showing 57% of people want to pursue better health. Second on the list, at 52%, the majority of Americans wanted to pursue a deeper relationship with God. Even in post-Christian America, people are hungry for a spiritual encounter even if they don’t realize what they want or know how to achieve it.
The Bible proclaims that Jesus has bridged the distance between God and humanity. He is the answer to the deepest longings of humanity. If the people in your life recognize that something is missing, perhaps God will use you to help them realize that Jesus is what their hearts desire. In every part of life, including your workplace, you can be a living demonstration of the fact that Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, bridges the distance between us and God.
Questions to Consider
Are you surprised to hear that most Americans want to have a deeper relationship with God? How does that affect the way you see people as you stand in line at the store, work in the office, or go out to dinner?
How has God used you in the past to demonstrate that a relationship with Jesus is what people are missing?
How does knowing that Jesus is the last sacrificial lamb needed give you a fuller picture of the Lord’s Supper?
Father, thank you for sending the world exactly what it needed. Though the world did not recognize Jesus as the answer that he is — and continues to be blinded to his saving ways — help me to be a daily witness to his love that satisfies our deepest needs. May the Spirit give me new eyes to see people around me as hungry for a relationship with you. Knowing that you are the Lamb to end all sacrifices, I choose to feast on your loving presence and relish in the fact that you gave your life willingly so that all might come to God through you. Amen.