Matthew 26:26 (The Lord’s Supper: This Is My Body)

It is Wednesday evening of Passion Week.  Earlier that day the disciples had followed Jesus’ instructions to prepare the Passover meal at what may have been the home of John Mark, author of the second gospel.  Matthew and Mark have emphasized that during the meal Jesus revealed that not only would He be delivered up to the religious leaders to be handed over to the Romans, but it would be one of them closest to Him, sharing this meal, who would betray Him.  What do Matthew and Mark now also report that happened at the Last Supper, which was of first importance to Luke at the time he wrote?  See Mat 26:26-29, Mar 14:22-25, Luk 22:14-20.  What does Luke’s emphasis and longer description of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and lesser emphasis and shorter description of Jesus’ betrayal, indicate about what he as a Gentile believer felt was more important to his readers at the time he wrote?  What does it also indicate about how the emphasis of the early church was changing from an apologetic to the Jews at the time Matthew and Mark wrote to establishing the newer Gentile churches in the faith by the time that Luke wrote?

With what words do Matthew and Mark report that Jesus introduced the Lord’s Supper, and how do their abrupt introductions differ from Luke’s?  See Mat 26:26, Mar 14:22, Luk 22:15-18.  Why might Luke, writing later than Matthew and Mark, have emphasized more than they did Jesus’ words that He would not eat of the Passover again until it was fulfilled in the kingdom of God, or drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God should come?  See 1Co 11:26.  What does this remind us of a major purpose for celebrating the Lord’s Supper?  Think: although we partake of the Lord’s table, has all been fulfilled that we eat and drink with Jesus in the fulness of His kingdom?

What do both Matthew and Mark report in regard to Jesus’ words to the disciples as He broke the bread and gave it to them?  See Mat 26:26, Mar 14:22.  Notice that both of their earlier gospel accounts only record Jesus’ description of the bread He broke as “This is my body”, but no interpretation of what exactly He meant by that; how might new believers in the very early church reading this description have potentially understood, or misunderstood, what He meant by it?  Cf. Joh 6:52, and consider the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation, and the various understandings held by many others throughout history of a “real presence” of the Lord in the Eucharist that in some way is able to impart a measure of grace to the partaker.

What does Luke record Jesus as saying with the breaking of the bread that was omitted by Matthew and Mark?  See Luk 22:19.  How does this reflect the words the apostle Paul used to describe the Lord’s Supper in 1Co 11:24?  In what way does the addition of “Do this in remembrance of me” help to better explain what Jesus meant by “This is my body”?  I.e., are we to understand that the bread Jesus broke somehow mystically became His body and by physically partaking of it the disciples were in some way receiving Him as a means of grace so as to partake of His divine nature?  Think: if this was the case, wouldn’t we expect the additional words of explanation recorded by Luke to have been more along the lines of “Do this to receive power / grace” or “Do this to be saved”?  Rather, do not the additional words recorded by Luke lead us to understand that Jesus did not mean this, but that the broken bread is to be understood as a visible representation typifying His body by which the community of His followers might proclaim His death and vividly remember His sacrifice to keep alive their love for Him?  In this regard, how might the addition by Luke and Paul to the verbiage included by Matthew and Mark, whose gospels were already in circulation (cf. Luk 1:1), be understood as a gentle attempt to correct what they viewed as a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words that had already developed in the early church?  In what way could John’s inclusion of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life in Joh 6:26-35,47-63 be understood similarly?  See especially Joh 6:63, and recall that John wrote his gospel much later after all three synoptic gospels had been in circulation.  In what way have Christians often viewed the Lord’s Table mystically, or even magically, in terms of their carnal life rather than spiritually, and how is that similar to the way the Jews whom Jesus was addressing in the Bread of Life Discourse viewed the manna from heaven?  Cf. Joh 6:26, 30-31, 49-50.

What is the relationship to bread of Jesus’ body that helps us to understand what exactly He meant when He said, “This is My body”?  See Deut 8:3, Neh 9:20, Joh 1:1,14.  Shall we then understand that there is anything inherently salvific about partaking of the bread at the Lord’s Table, any more than when we eat bread at a meal?  Or does the grace that we think of as being received at the Lord’s Table to partake of His divine nature actually come not from the element itself, but from the Spirit of the occasion that is imparted by the word of truth and made effectual through our communion with the saints with whom we partake?  Cf. 2Pe 1:3-4, Isa 63:11.