By the time we reach chapter 22 of Luke’s gospel account, Jesus has finished the bulk of his public teaching. Now the narrative is fixed upon his Passion, that is, his suffering and crucifixion. There is a sense in which the entire life of Jesus was the account of his Passion given that he came into the world to save sinners by dying in their place. Indeed, from Genesis chapter three forward, the Bible may be rightly viewed in one sense as a long march toward the cross. But the most immediate circumstances related to Jesus’ path to the cross begins with his sharing the Passover meal with his 12 disciples.
The different gospel accounts taken together give us a full picture of the evening’s events. For instance, both Matthew and John tell of how Jesus wrapped a servant’s towel around his waist and washed his disciple’s feet in order to prepare them for the humiliations he would endure upon the cross. John’s account includes Jesus’ powerful discourse on the coming of the Holy Spirit. Luke’s account gives central focus to the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted this new “meal” as the fulfillment of the Passover meal which God’s people had observed since their liberation from Egypt. Just as the Passover meal served as a covenant renewal ceremony, so too would the Lord’s Supper. Just as the Passover meal reminded the people of the Lord’s deliverance, so too would the Lord’s Supper. But this new meal would not look back upon a deliverance from physical oppression but from that deeper and deadlier slavery to sin and death.
Ever since Jesus’ final meal with his disciples prior to his death, the Lord’s Supper has been a principal mark of Christian identity and a chief feature of Christian worship. We call it a sacrament because it is a sign which points to something beyond itself. The symbolic nature of the bread and cup point to the price that was paid for our redemption. And, as Jesus indicated to the disciples, it directs our gaze to the coming kingdom when Jesus will welcome all of the redeemed throughout history to his everlasting table of fellowship.