Matthew 26:14-29 – The Passover


It is the time of the Passover celebration.  This is a significant festival within Judaism that lasts an entire week and consists of two meaningful events.  The first is the Passover meal.  This meal occurs in one evening and commemorates God’s provision of the paschal lamb.  The blood of the lamb was placed on the doorposts of the Israelite homes.  The death angel saw the blood and then “passed over” their homes thereby saving their families from God’s wrath (Exodus 12:1-13).  Next, the feast of unleavened bread begins and lasts the remainder of the week.  This extended celebration commemorates the Israelites freedom from their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 13:1-10). It is very significant that the betrayal, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus begins during the onset of these feasts.  It will be made known throughout the entire church age that the blood of Jesus saves us from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9-11) and also frees us from the bondage of our sin (Romans 6:18).


Jesus and his disciples are reclining at the table of this final Passover meal.  Unbeknownst to the disciples, this is their last night with Jesus before He is handed over to the Chief Priests, Elders, and Scribes. Jesus reveals to them that a disciple at this very table will betray him.  The disciples respond with intense sorrow. This was outrageous in Jewish culture.  Eating with someone represented safety and deep friendship. One of his closest companions was going to betray him, and Jesus reveals that Judas is His betrayer.  Judas did not love Jesus, he loved money, and had been stealing money all along (John 12:6).  Judas commits his great sin, betraying Christ by handing him over to be killed for 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave.


This is the first communion to ever take place.  Jesus ends the old Passover meal by instituting a greater meal.  This meal will remind His Church of His death and resurrection as the final Passover Lamb.  Jesus takes bread and wine, physical elements that are symbolic of his body and blood, and commands His disciples and church to take them when they gather together, to remember the great sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf.  The New Covenant required a blood sacrifice, and only Jesus the spotless Lamb, could stand in the place of sinners and satisfy the wrath and justice of God. This meal pointed to the greatest event in the history of mankind.  Jesus, who knew no sin, became our sin, that we would become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).


Study Questions

  1. Describe why the Passover meal is replaced with the new meal of communion. How does the gospel help us understand this?
  2. Communion doesn’t earn us grace, but it is a means of grace. How does communion graciously help us enjoy the promises and blessings given to us in Christ?
  3. What does it mean to participate in communion in an unworthy manner (I Corinthians 11:27)?  Why is this important?