November 4, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Tuesday after the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 44, Jer. 35:12, Col. 1:18-2:5
Evening – Psalm 44, 85, Dt. 6:10-25, Mt. 26:17-30

Commentary, Matthew 26:17-30

Surely Matthew 26 is one of the most heart wrenching chapters in all of Scripture.  Beginning with the Lords prediction of His crucifixion, it moves to the conspiracy to capture Jesus ‘by subtilty, and kill him.”  The kindest thing that happens to Christ in this chapter is His anointment with costly oil, and even this, He says, is for His burial. Next, Judas joins the conspiracy against Jesus, and begins to seek an opportunity to betray Him.  The Passover meal and Lord’s Supper, in verses 17-30 are about His death and its meaning.  In Gethsemane the disciples sleep while He faces His remaining hours alone, after which Judas leads the conspirators to Him and betrays Him with a kiss.  He is taken to a mock trial in which many false witnesses testify against Him, and, finally, Peter denies Him three times.

Verses 17-30 recount the events in the Upper Room, the Passover, which our Lord turns into what is commonly called, “The Lord’s Supper.”  It is Thursday evening when they gather for the meal, which follows a well known and much honoured liturgy.  In the Passover ceremony the head of the family brakes the unleavened bread and places it on a plate.  But part of the bread is placed on another plate, which is laid aside to be eaten after the meal.  The head of the household now raises the bread and says, “This is the bread of misery which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.  All that are hungry, come and eat; all that are needy, come, keep the Passover.”  After the bread is passed and eaten, the cup is raised and the liturgical prayers are said.  The cup is raised a second time and Psalms 113-118 are sung.  The cup is raised a third time, another liturgical prayer is said, and the cup is passed to each person for a drink.  After this comes the meal itself, ending with the bread that had been set aside at the beginning of the ceremony.  This is followed by the final cup of wine, the cup after the supper of Luke. 22:20.

The exact place in the liturgy when our Lord took the bread and cup and instituted the Lord’s Supper is not known.  He is Lord of the Passover as surely as He is Lord of the Sabbath, and He may have changed the liturgy to make His point.  He may have used the bread at the end of the meal, followed by the cup after the supper.  If this is correct, after the remembrance of the deliverance from Egypt, our Lord inaugurates the New Covenant with what will become the remembrance of our deliverance from the eternal slavery of sin.

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