Three Versions of the Last Supper
The final time Jesus ate a meal with his disciples before he was executed is commonly called the Last Supper; he celebrated Passover with them. Today, we continue this tradition in memory of him. Though people use different names for this, such as Communion, Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, The Eucharist, and Holy Eucharist, among others, the intent is the same: remembering what Jesus did for us.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this event in their biographies of Jesus. However, each of them presents it differently. Matthew’s version is the one I’m most familiar with, having heard it read hundreds of times in church as part of a Communion service (Matthew 26:26-29). Mark’s version is similar, which I’ve also heard when partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:22-25).
However, Luke’s version is different, with a pre-dinner sacrament for the wine and bread, along with a post dinner salute with wine. At the beginning of the meal, he gives thanks and reminds them to share the wine with one another. Then he breaks the bread, referencing his body, which is about to be broken for their benefit. However, it’s not until the second use of wine, after the meal, when Jesus refers to the cup as a new covenant signified by his death (his spilt blood), which is for them.
With Luke’s version, we can’t miss the fact that an actual meal occurs between the two acts with the wine. I think that’s what most of us miss today in the Eucharist. The celebration of communion isn’t so much about a tiny cracker and sip of wine, it’s a meal shared in the community—all in the name of Jesus.
Read more about the book of Luke in Dear Theophilus: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus through the Gospel of Luke now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.