What a hopeful prospect had we of Christ’s doing a great deal of good by his preaching in the temple during the feast of unleavened bread, which continued seven days, when the people were every morning, and early in the morning, so attentive to hear him! But here is a stop put to it. He must enter upon work of another kind; in this, however, he shall do more good than in the other, for neither Christ’s nor his church’s suffering days are their idle empty days. Now here we have,
I. The preparation that was made for Christ’s eating the passover with his disciples, upon the very day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed according to the law, Luke 22:7. Christ was made under the law, and observed the ordinances of it, particularly that of the passover, to teach us in like manner to observe his gospel institutions, particularly that of the Lord’s supper, and not to neglect them. It is probable that he went to the temple to preach in the morning, when he sent Peter and John another way into the city to prepare the passover. Those who have attendants about them, to do their secular business for them in a great measure, must not think that this allows them to be idle; it engages them to employ themselves more in spiritual business, or service to the public. He directed those whom he employed whither they should go (Luke 22:9, 10): they must follow a man bearing a pitcher of water, and he must be their guide to the house. Christ could have described the house to them; probably it was a house they knew, and he might have said no more than, Go to such a one’s house, or to a house in such a street, with such a sign, etc. But he directed them thus, to teach them to depend upon the conduct of Providence, and to follow that, step by step. They went, not knowing whither they went, nor whom they followed. Being come to the house, they must desire the master of the house to show them a room (Luke 22:11), and he will readily do it, Luke 22:12. Whether it was a friend’s house or a public house does not appear; but the disciples found their guide, and the house, and the room, just as he had said to them (Luke 22:13); for they need not fear a disappointment who go upon Christ’s word; according to the orders given them, they got every thing in readiness for the passover, Luke 22:11.
II. The solemnizing of the passover, according to the law. When the hour was come that they should go to supper he sat down, probably at the head-end of the table, and the twelve apostles with him, Judas not excepted; for it is possible that those whose hearts are filled with Satan, and all manner of wickedness, may yet continue a plausible profession of religion, and be found in the performance of its external services; and while it is in the heart, and does not break out into anything scandalous, such cannot be denied the external privileges of their external profession. Though Judas has already been guilty of an overt act of treason, yet, it not being publicly known, Christ admits him to sit down with the rest at the passover. Now observe,
1. How Christ bids this passover welcome, to teach us in like manner to welcome his passover, the Lord’s supper, and to come to it with an appetite (Luke 22:15): “With desire I have desired, I have most earnestly desired, to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” He knew it was to be the prologue to his sufferings, and therefore he desired it, because it was in order to his Father’s glory and man’s redemption. He delighted to do even this part of the will of God concerning him as Mediator. Shall we be backward to any service for him who was so forward in the work of our salvation? See the love he had to his disciples; he desired to eat it with them, that he and they might have a little time together, themselves, and none besides, for private conversation, which they could not have in Jerusalem but upon this occasion. He was now about to leave them, but was very desirous to eat this passover with them before he suffered, as if the comfort of that would carry him the more cheerfully through his sufferings, and make them the easier to him. Note, Our gospel passover, eaten by faith with Jesus Christ, will be an excellent preparation for sufferings, and trials, and death itself.
2. How Christ in it takes his leave of all passovers, thereby signifying his abrogating all the ordinances of the ceremonial law, of which that of the passover was one of the earliest and one of the most eminent (Luke 22:16): “I will not any more eat thereof, nor shall it by any more celebrated by my disciples, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (1.) It was fulfilled when Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us, 1 Cor. 5:7. And therefore that type and shadow was laid aside, because now in the kingdom of God the substance was come, which superseded it. (2.) It was fulfilled in the Lord’s supper, an ordinance of the gospel kingdom, in which the passover had its accomplishment, and which the disciples, after the pouring out of the Spirit, did frequently celebrate, as we find Acts 2:42, 46. They ate of it, and Christ might be said to eat with them, because of the spiritual communion they had with him in that ordinance. He is said to sup with them and they with him, Rev. 3:20. But, (3.) The complete accomplishment of that commemoration of liberty will be in the kingdom of glory, when all God’s spiritual Israel shall be released from the bondage of death and sin, and be put in possession of the land of promise. What he had said of his eating of the paschal lamb, he repeats concerning his drinking of the passover wine, the cup of blessing, or of thanksgiving, in which all the company pledged the Master of the feast, at the close of the passover supper. This cup he took, according to the custom, and gave thanks for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the preservation of their first-born, and then said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves, Luke 22:17. This is not said afterwards of the sacramental cup, which being probably of much more weight and value, being the New Testament in his blood, he might give into every one’s hand, to teach them to make a particular application of it to their own souls; but, as for the paschal cup which is to be abolished, it is enough to say, “Take it, and divide it among yourselves, do what you will with it, for we shall have no more occasion for it, Luke 22:18. I will not drink of the fruit of the vine any more, I will not have it any more drank of, till the kingdom of God shall come, till the Spirit be poured out, and then you shall in the Lord’s supper commemorate a much more glorious redemption, of which both the deliverance out of Egypt and the passover commemoration of it were types and figures. The kingdom of God is now so near being set up that you will not need to eat or drink any more till it comes.” Christ dying next day opened it. As Christ with a great deal of pleasure took leave of all the legal feasts (which fell of course with the passover) for the evangelical ones, both spiritual and sacramental; so may good Christians, when they are called to remove from the church militant to that which is triumphant, cheerfully exchange even their spiritual repasts, much more their sacramental ones, for the eternal feast.
III. The institution of the Lord’s supper, Luke 22:19, 20. The passover and the deliverance out of Egypt were typical and prophetic signs of a Christ to come, who should by dying deliver us from sin and death, and the tyranny of Satan; but they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, that brought us up out of the land of Egypt; a much greater deliverance shall eclipse the lustre of that, and therefore the Lord’s supper is instituted to be a commemorative sign or memorial of a Christ already come, that has by dying delivered us; and it is his death that is in a special manner set before us in that ordinance.
1. The breaking of Christ’s body as a sacrifice for us is here commemorated by the breaking of bread; and the sacrifices under the law were called the bread of our God (Lev. 21:6, 8, 17): This is my body which is given for you. And there is a feast upon that sacrifice instituted, in which we are to apply it to ourselves, and to take the benefit and comfort of it. This bread that was given for us is given to us to be food for our souls, for nothing can be more nourishing and satisfying to our souls than the doctrine of Christ’s making atonement for sin, and the assurance of our interest in that atonement; this bread that was broken and given for us, to satisfy for the guilt of our sins, is broken and given to us, to satisfy the desire of our souls. And this we do in remembrance of what he did for us, when he died for us, and for a memorial of what we do, in making ourselves partakers of him, and joining ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant; like the stone Joshua set up for a witness, Josh. 24:27.
2. The shedding of Christ’s blood, by which the atonement was made (for the blood made atonement for the soul, Lev. 17:11), as represented by the wine in the cup; and that cup of wine is a sign and token of the New Testament, or new covenant, made with us. It commemorates the purchase of the covenant by the blood of Christ, and confirms the promises of the covenant, which are all Yea and Amen in him. This will be reviving and refreshing to our souls, as wine that makes glad the heart. In all our commemorations of the shedding of Christ’s blood, we must have an eye to it as shed for us; we needed it, we take hold of it, we hope to have benefit by it; who loved me, and gave himself for me. And in all our regards to the New Testament we must have an eye to the blood of Christ, which gave life and being to it, and seals to us all the promises of it. Had it not been for the blood of Christ, we had never had the New Testament; and, had it not been for the New Testament, we had never know the meaning of Christ’s blood shed.