R5541-284 Bible Study: Two Passover Memorials

Change language 

::R5541 : page 284::


—OCTOBER 11.—MARK 14:12-25.—

“As oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.”—1 CORINTHIANS 11:26.

THE SUBJECT of today’s lesson is one of the most interesting features of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He knew that the Apostles did not know that this was to be His last supper with them. Although He had intimated the nearness of His death, His disciples had found it impossible to comprehend that any such disaster could be so near at hand as He had intimated. Jesus, however, with full consciousness of what it meant, was longing for the consummation of His work. It was probably on the very day at the close of which He and His disciples went to eat the Passover that Jesus said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I in difficulty until it be accomplished!”—a baptism into death, which was finished the following day.

Peter and John were the two disciples sent to make ready the Passover. Evidently Jesus was at Bethany, at the home of Lazarus, when He sent this word. It is supposed that the large upper room in which the Passover was eaten by Jesus and His disciples was the same one in which the Apostles and others were gathered to await the Pentecostal blessing. This very room is still pointed out by tradition, but is controlled by Mohammedans, who are especially jealous of Christians.

In the evening of the same day, Jesus with the entire Twelve met in this room, all the preparations having been attended to. They met to celebrate the Jewish Passover at its appointed time. The lamb had been roasted, and the unleavened bread prepared, also the bitter herbs. Everything, we may be sure, was exactly in conformity with the original requirement; for Jesus and His Apostles were bound by every feature of the Jewish Law as much as were other Jews—the New Dispensation not yet having been ushered in. Every feature of the Law was binding up to the time of the Pentecostal blessing, which marked the Divine approval of the sacrifice of Jesus and the Divine acceptance of all those who had become His disciples by a full consecration.


So far from realizing that they were on the eve of a great tragedy, the Apostles believed that Jesus would very soon be enthroned as King. They remembered His promise that they should sit with Him in His Throne. This promise seemed so near of realization to them that they could think of little else but the degree of honor which they would have in the Kingdom. They seemed to feel that unless they contended stoutly for it, they would not get so honorable positions. Perceiving their attitude of mind, Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; but ye shall not be so: but he that will be greatest amongst you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.”

These were new standards, difficult for them to understand; and apparently they are still difficult for the followers of Jesus to comprehend fully. The One who will be chief in the Kingdom will be the One who was the chief Servant in the flesh. This greatest Servant of all was, of course, the Lord Jesus Himself. But the Master intimates that the same principle holds good in respect to all of His followers. Whoever of them will most faithfully, most earnestly, most zealously, serve the brethren will thereby be increasing his favor with God, and be preparing himself for so much higher station in Messiah’s Kingdom.

With the thought that any menial service would signify admission of their unworthiness of a high place, the disciples made no arrangement for feet-washing, none wishing to assume the role of servant. In that sandy country feet-washing was almost a necessity when sandals were worn. By way of rebuke, Jesus arose from the table and

::R5542 : page 285::

performed this menial service for His disciples, telling them the import of the lesson—namely, humility—and intimating that no matter how humble a service they might be able to render to each other, they should be glad to render it.

The lesson is still with us, not as a form or ceremony to be performed, but as an illustration of a principle. Any humble act of service done to one of the Lord’s brethren corresponds to this feet-washing.


The Passover Supper proceeded—the eating of the lamb with the bitter herbs and the unleavened bread, which considerably resembled thick pancakes, and which was sometimes used instead of a spoon to sop up the essence of the meat. One of the Gospels declares that Jesus began to be heavy-hearted, and then said, One of you Twelve, eating with Me as My guest, as a member of My family, is plotting My betrayal.

There may have been a double object in this statement. First, it would show the disciples that Jesus was fully aware of the premeditated betrayal. They would not, therefore, think that something had happened to Him unexpectedly, or out of the Divine Program. Second, our Lord may have meant this as a final reproof to Judas—to startle him, to cause him to think. At very best a traitor’s course is dishonorable, but doubly so when the traitor accepts the hospitality of the one against whom he is plotting and eats his bread.

Consternation spread amongst the disciples; and one after another they asked, “Is it I?” The import of this question would be, It is not I whom You have meant! Even Judas joined in the general inquiry, “Is it I?” The Apostle John was seated next to Jesus, and St. Peter beckoned to him that he should ask the Master who was meant. It was probably a whispered inquiry, heard by Jesus only. Our Lord’s whispered reply was, “It is the one to whom I will give a sop.” Presently, having prepared a special sop, a mark of special interest, He handed it to Judas. Thus St. John and St. Peter knew the affair.

Apparently it was but a short time after this that Judas withdrew, the record being that “Satan entered into him.” The spirit of the Evil One got complete control of him while he stopped, and weighed and balanced the matter of selling his best Friend for thirty pieces of silver. It is entirely probable, therefore, that Judas was not present when Jesus, a little later, instituted the Memorial Supper which Christians now celebrate.


The Memorial Supper which Jesus instituted is totally separate and distinct from the Passover Supper, and yet they are closely related; for the one was the type and the other its archetype, or higher type, with a still higher signification. In the one a literal lamb was used to typify Jesus, the Lamb of God; in the other, the archetype, the breaking of the bread represented the death of Jesus.

The Jews celebrated the birth of their nation and its deliverance from Egyptian bondage. This had its start in the passing over of their first-born when the tenth plague came upon the Egyptians. St. Paul shows us that the first-borns of Israel, spared in that Passover night, typified the Church of the First-borns, spared, or passed over, in the present time, while the night of sin prevails and before the morning of Messiah’s Kingdom is ushered in.

More and more Bible students are reaching the conclusion that the Memorial of Christ’s death should not be celebrated monthly or quarterly or weekly; but that it should be considered the archetype of the Jewish Passover, and should properly be celebrated annually, and at about the same time as the Jewish Passover.

We are not to understand that the Apostles comprehended the meaning of Jesus’ words when He explained to them the signification of the Supper which He instituted. Rather, as He had already foretold, the Holy Spirit brought these things to their attention and enabled them to comprehend their meaning, after they had received the Pentecostal blessing and enlightenment. Now we may see the import of Jesus’ words, “This is My body, broken for you.” We perceive that He could not have meant, as some have thought, that the bread was turned into His actual body and the wine into His actual blood. On the contrary, He still had His actual body and His actual blood. He could not, therefore, have meant more than to say, This bread symbolically represents My body, which is to be broken for you; and this wine represents My blood, which is to be shed for you tomorrow—My life given up.

Neither should we think that Jesus meant that special virtue would result to the disciples from the eating of that bread and the drinking of that literal cup. We should properly look far beyond these things, and see that He meant this: Only as you by faith partake of the merits secured by My death can you have the great blessing provided for you as My disciples. The Apostles believed that the death of Jesus was for their sins, and that it constituted the basis of their acceptance with the Heavenly Father. They realized that only as they appropriated the life of Christ would they be truly the recipients of all these blessings.

St. Paul points out for us another important signification of this bread and cup. He declares the oneness of Christ and His Church. He tells us that there is but the one Loaf and the one Cup. Primarily, this Loaf was Christ Jesus; but in a secondary sense all the followers of Christ, after having been justified through His Sacrifice, are privileged to become members of His Body, parts of the one Loaf that is being broken. Likewise, after partaking of the merit of Christ’s blood, His sacrifice, all of His true followers are counted as members with Him and as participators in that one Cup.

Hear the Apostle’s words: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? For we being many are one Bread, and one Body; for we are partakers of that one Bread.”—1 Corinthians 10:16,17.


Jesus spoke of the cup, the fruit of the vine, as representing the blood of the New Covenant. The Law Covenant was the Old Covenant, which failed to bring the blessings to the Jews, because they could not keep it. Hence, also, they were not qualified to bless the other nations of the earth. But God promised a New Covenant, a better one, which would be introduced by a new and higher, or superior, Mediator than Moses. That New Covenant, God declares, will accomplish what the old Law Covenant failed to accomplish; for the New Law Covenant will be inaugurated by Messiah, its Mediator, at His Second Advent. His Kingdom, established in power and great glory, will rule, bless and instruct mankind, and will “take away the stony heart and will give a heart of flesh” to all who will respond to those blessed opportunities.

Jesus’ death constituted the blood which seals, or makes efficacious, that New Covenant. But mark further: The Church is not to be blessed under that New Covenant of the Millennial Age, which will be inaugurated at the Second Coming of Jesus, at the establishment of His Kingdom. The Church is to be blessed in advance of that New Covenant. Indeed, their consecrated lives

::R5542 : page 286::

(blood), accepted by our Lord, are counted in as a part of His own sacrifice, which seals the New Covenant. Hence the New Covenant cannot be fully sealed until the entire Body of Christ, which is the Church, shall have shared with Him in the drinking of His Cup—in the sacrifice of earthly rights, privileges, life itself.


Meantime, we see that Jesus and the Church receive their reward neither under the Law Covenant nor under the New Covenant, but under a special Covenant, called a Covenant of Sacrifice. Reference is made to this Covenant of Christ and the Church in the Psalms, where the Lord is represented as saying, “Gather My saints together unto Me, those who have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice.” (Psalm 50:5.) The gathering of those who enter into this special Covenant of Sacrifice with the Lord has been in progress for now over eighteen hundred years. We have every reason to believe that the sacrifice is nearly completed, and that soon all the sacrificers, members of the Body of Christ, will be glorified, changed by the power of the First Resurrection and will enter into the joys of their Lord, according to His promise: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne.”

Our Lord indicated that He would no longer drink of the Cup; nor did He. His work, His drinking of the Cup, was finished the next day, on Calvary. There He completed the drinking of the Cup which the Father had poured for Him. The Father has poured the same Cup for all the followers of Jesus; and they must drink of His Cup, as well as partake of the merits of His broken Body, if they would be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom, soon to be established.

This was the import of our Lord’s words to St. James and St. John, His disciples, when they asked for special

::R5543 : page 286::

places in the Kingdom. Jesus asked, “Are ye able [willing] to drink of the Cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They heartily declared their willingness. Jesus assured them that they should have their request; that if they were willing, He would see to it that they would drink of His Cup. And so it is with all of His followers. The Scriptures assure them, saying, “All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to the called ones according to His purpose.”


— September 15, 1914 —