The Significance of the Last Supper

Jesus is celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples, a meal they ate every year to remember God’s deliverance from Egypt (see Exodus 12). For Passover, the Israelite homes were instructed to slaughter a spotless lamb and then put its blood above their doorposts. When God came in judgment on the homes of the Israelites and the Egyptians, He would put to death the firstborn son in any home that did not have blood over the doorpost. God provided the blood of a lamb, a substitute sacrifice, to save His people from the payment of sin. God’s people would celebrate this meal every year, taking these lambs to be slaughtered. The Israelites would gather together in their homes and remember the original Passover night in Egypt.

With that backdrop, Jesus refers to the cup in the Last Supper as signifying “My blood,” which is “shed for many for the forgiveness of sins” (26:28; emphasis added). He is the Passover lamb (Exodus 12) who saves us with His blood. When God’s wrath and judgment come, we hide under the blood of a substitute sacrifice, Jesus the Lamb of God, and we are saved.

He is our substitute sacrifice.

The account of the Last Supper also connects Jesus’ death with the law God gave to His people. He is the covenant keeper (Exodus 24) who seals us with His blood. Jesus refers to “My blood that establishes the covenant” in Matthew 26:28, and this is the only time the word “covenant” is used in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus is alluding to Exodus 24, when the law-covenant that God had given His people at Mount Sinai was confirmed. In Exodus 24:8 Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you concerning all these words.” This was a picture not only of God’s forgiveness, but also of His binding of the people to Himself in relationship.

Now, with Jesus’ death, we have a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27) sealed not with the blood of an animal sacrifice, but with the blood of the Son of God Himself (Hebrews 10:1-18). He is our substitute sacrifice, and He has died the death we deserved to die.

**This Daily devotion was modified from Exalting Jesus in Matthew from the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series, by David Platt.