This week we look at the importance of the Jewish faith and history as we come to the Lord’s Supper table. Understanding Jewish religious practices helps us contextualize Jesus’s Last Supper. Much of Christianity today can trace its roots back to Jewish beliefs.
We know that Jesus was Jewish, and so were His disciples. Many of the church’s early converts and new church leaders were Jewish as well. In the common culture for a time, Christianity taught by Jesus was thought of by the community as a sect of Judaism. It was not until the Council of Jerusalem when the groups were largely considered distinct.
Two of the major holy days to the Jewish people are Passover and Yom Kippur. Most of us are familiar with Passover- when God had a plan to save the firstborn sons of who would obey Him. Households that followed God’s directions were passed over by the angel of death. Today Passover is celebrated with a Seder, a ritual feast comprised of symbolic foods like bitter herbs, wine and egg. Also prominently featured is unleavened bread, which is free from the “puff up” of pride, a symbol of humility before God.
Yom Kippur, or the day of atonement, is a day of public and private confession of sin. It is a time of prayer and ritual.
Jesus and his followers were familiar with these Jewish events, so in the same vein, during the Last Supper Jesus made the bread and wine into symbols of the new covenant, as reminders of Him. When we are called to his table we need only to come in a worthy manner. This does not mean your heart needs to be free of sin, only full of sincerity and earnestness. The Lord’s Supper table is a reminder of the price Jesus paid and the amazing plan God put into place.