Lord’s Supper – In likeness to the Jewish Passover the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus as a memorial to his coming sacrificial death and shedding of His blood for the remission of sin. The Lord’s Supper is observed as a memorial of His death, burial and resurrection even to this day by all true believers, that is, all who believe Jesus Christ is the messiah and savior of all saints. (See Matthew 26:17-30).
The Lord’s Supper takes its roots in the Jewish Passover through similarities and meanings. The Passover and its purpose are recorded in Exodus 12:1-14 and is very detailed in its observance. In Exodus 12:14 the following is stated: “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.” (NASB) This memorial is strictly a Jewish celebration of God’s saving Israel from the bondage of slavery from Egypt. This feast became part of Jewish law.
When Jesus established the Lord’s Supper it was meant to replace the Passover upon His death, just as the New Covenant was meant to replace the Old Covenant. In Matthew 5:17 the Scriptures read: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” (NASB) At Christ death the New Covenant was put in place along with the Lord’s Supper. The slavery of Israel in Egypt, and the memorial of the Passover to remember God’s deliverance from that slavery, was a foreshadow of Jesus death and resurrection for the deliverance of His people from their bondage of sin. The Lord’s Supper was then instituted by Christ as a memorial to this event. (See Romans 7:14 and Galatians 4:3-5).
The implementation of the Lord’s Supper is described in 1 Corinthians 11:20-34 and is much simpler than the Passover. The Lord’s Supper does not require an animal sacrifice, because Christ became the permanent substitute as symbolized by the lamb. (See Isaiah 53:7, John 1:36 and 1 Peter 1:19).
Unlike the Passover, which was to be observed once a year, the Lord’s Supper could be observed as often as the Christian community liked. However, like the Passover the Lord’s Supper came with a warning attached. (See 1 Corinthians 11:27-34).
Today the Lord’s Supper is observed by all of Christendom and carries various meanings to different groups. To the Catholic, it is part of their sacraments and carries more weight than just a memorial. They believe in transubstantiation, the belief that the bread and wine at some point in the observance turns literally into the blood and the body of Christ himself. Some churches believe in consubstantiation, the belief that the bread and the wine do not turn into Christ blood and body, but believe that Christ is somehow physically present and part of the event. Within most Protestant and Baptist groups it is viewed as one of the two ordinances of the church, baptism being the second and is strictly a symbolic event, that is, the bread and wine represent in symbolism the blood and body of Christ as the sacrificial lamb – slain for the remission of sins.