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Passover – The Last Supper

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As I write this post, Easter weekend is in just a few days’ time and I am busy preparing for a simple Passover re-creation we are doing on Thursday night. I don’t like the word ‘Easter’ at all as it evokes pagan images of bunnies and hot-cross buns and tends to undermine the powerful truths of Passover. I would rather call Good Friday ‘Crucifixion Friday’ and Easter Sunday ‘Resurrection Sunday’.

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In ancient Jewish tradition, each day started the previous evening at 6 pm, so Crucifixion Friday starts on Thursday evening. Most scholars believe, as I do, that the Last Supper was an adaptation of the usual Passover meal celebrated from 6 pm on Thursday evening – so this is why we have our re-creation service at that time on that day.

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The Passover meal was a happy occasion as families gathered together to remember with joy and gratitude how God had saved their ancestors from Pharaoh so long ago. They ate lamb, drank red wine, sang, and celebrated. Yet, in the midst of all the merriment were solemn remembrances enshrined in time-honored traditions.

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The five cups of wine they drank had significant names – the Cup of Sanctification, the Cup of Instruction, the Cup of Praise, and lastly, Elijah’s Cup. Yes I know, that’s only four cups – the third cup drunk was the most significant of all, the Cup of Redemption. This was shared among the gathered family just after a special piece of unleavened bread called the Afikoman was eaten. The Afikoman and the Cup of Redemption; the two elements of what we now know as Communion, the Lords Supper, or Eucharist.

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Earlier in the Passover meal process the father of the family had picked up three pieces of unleavened bread. He handed out two of these pieces to be eaten, but the middle one received very different treatment. The father took that piece, broke it in half, wrapped it carefully in a linen napkin, and then placed it under a pillow. This broken, swathed, and hidden piece of unleavened bread was known as the Afikoman. Why is the middle piece of three broken? There doesn’t seem to be any reasonable answer to that in Jewish tradition. They regard the three pieces of bread as representing the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – but what have they to do with the original Passover, and why is poor Isaac chosen to be broken, and then buried? Christian doctrine does, of course, have a solution; the three pieces represent the Triune Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the second piece is broken just as the second personage of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, was ‘broken’ on the cross of Calvary and his body wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb.

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When Jesus celebrated Passover for the last time with his disciples, he took the Afikoman, ‘gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me”’(Luke 22:19). Luke’s Gospel account continues with the words; ‘In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”’. The cup that Jesus was holding in his hands was the 3rd cup of Passover, the Cup of Redemption. It is clear from his words that Jesus was fully aware of what he was doing, how he was fulfilling the promises of Passover, and that he would shortly become the sacrificial lamb itself.

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There is so much more to tell concerning this marvelous meal, still celebrated by religious Jews every year, and by Christians as Communion many times during the year. I wrote an article a while ago giving some other insights and you can find it at https://truthistheword.com/the-last-supper/

Be truly blessed this Passover time

Picture of Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler

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9 thoughts on “Passover – The Last Supper”

  1. Wonderful. Truly always informative, and well researched. The redemptive cup – like the truth – is the person Jesus Christ, who removed the Jew’s need for further sacrificing and blood shedding. We pray for this truth to be revealed to the Jews as they now get ready for Passover!

  2. Dear Chris,
    You have an amazing insight into the Passover and so many other subjects. Thank you for sharing this blog. I am never too old to learn deeper truths from my fellow pilgrims.
    With appreciation and admiration. Arthur.

  3. Pingback: Readings for Passover 2019 | Truth Is The Word

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.