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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Supper of the Lord

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Supper of the Lord, so called by St. Paul in his historical reference to the Passover Supper as observed by Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed (; ). As regards the day on which our Lord observed the Passover, it seems more proper to say, that the Pharisees, the dominant party among the Jews, deferred its observance a day in accordance with their traditions, than that Jesus anticipated it. What one party considered the fourteenth Nisan, would to the other be the thirteenth. This supposition seems best to harmonize any apparent discrepancy in the accounts of the evangelists.

Several controverted points may perhaps be best adjusted by a connected harmony of the last Passover of the Lord, constructed from the evangelic narratives alluding to it, but filling up the various omitted circumstances from the known Passover rites [PASSOVER].

'Now, when it was evening, Jesus sat down with the twelve (Matthew) Apostles' (Mark). The first customary washing and purifications being performed, the blessing over the first cup of wine, which began the feast, would be pronounced, probably in the usual form—'We thank thee, O God, our Heavenly Father, who hast created the fruit of the vine.'

Then probably the second cup of wine was mingled, and with the flesh of the paschal lamb, feast offerings, and other viands, placed before the Lord. 'And He said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this Pascha with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I shall no more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And He took the [second] cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide among you, for I say unto you, I will not henceforth drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come' (Luke).

When the wine distributed to each would be drunk off, one of the unleavened cakes would next be broken, the blessing said over it, and a piece distributed to each disciple, probably with the usual formula:—'This is the bread of affliction which your fathers did eat in the land of Egypt'—i.e., not the identical bread, transubstantiated, but a memorial or sign of it. The company would then proceed with the proper supper, eating of the feast-offering, and, after a benediction, of the paschal lamb.

'And as they were at supper, the Devil having now put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him; Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and was going to God, riseth from supper; and' after due preparations 'began to wash the disciples' feet' (John). After this striking symbolic exhortation to humility and mutual service (), 'Jesus was troubled in spirit, and bare witness, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you will betray Me. Then the disciples looked on one another, doubting of whom He spake' (John). 'And they were very sorry, and began each of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?' (Matthew) 'One of the disciples, leaning back on Jesus' breast, saith unto Him, Lord, is it I? Jesus answered, He it is to whom shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And after dipping the sop He giveth it to Judas Iscariot. Then Satan entered into him. Jesus saith unto him, What thou doest, do quickly. He then, on taking the sop, went immediately out; and it was night' (John).

The supper would then proceed, until each had eaten sufficient of the paschal lamb and feast-offering.

'And as they were eating, Jesus took the bread,' the other unleavened cake left unbroken, 'and blessed' God 'and brake it, and gave it to the' eleven 'disciples, and said, Take eat; this is my body (Matthew, Mark), which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me' (Luke, Paul, ).

The supper being concluded, the hands were usually washed the second time, and the third cup or 'cup of blessing' () prepared, over which the master usually gave thanks for the Covenant of Circumcision, and for the law given to Moses. Jesus, therefore, at this juncture, announced, with peculiar appropriateness, His New Covenant.

'After the same manner, also, Jesus took the cup after supper, and, having given thanks, gave it to them, saying, Drink all of you out of it; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for forgiveness of sins (Matthew): this do, as oft as ye drink, in remembrance of Me' (). 'But I say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom '(Matthew).

'And when they had sung a hymn' (Matthew), probably the Hallel, our Lord discoursed long with His disciples about His approaching death and departure (; ), and when He had finished He said, 'Arise, let us go hence.' And they went out on to the Mount of Olives' (Matthew).





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Supper of the Lord'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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