The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Mark 14:12-26, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 14:12-26, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
Mark 14:12-26, The Final Passover and the First Communion:
- Both these historical events are all about salvation! When the Passover was set to take place in Egypt, not only did the Jews trust that God would save them from the angel of death, but they trusted that He would save them from their captive lives in a foreign land.
- With communion being instituted Christ gave the assurance that eternal salvation in Him is secure, and that by His blood, the New Covenant is sure!
- Therefore, coming to the Passover celebration, and the Lord’s Supper’s establishment, we are reminded of the great grace we have in salvation! Now in order to see the full picture, we’ll look at both events according to Mark 14:12-25, and then summarize the importance of this reminder.
1. The Final Passover:
- Text – 14:12-21
- Explanation – According to Deuteronomy 16:1–8, the Passover had be observed in Jerusalem. And since Jerusalem was the God-appointed epicentre of Passover celebrations, residents of Jerusalem were expected to offer hospitality to out-of-town Jews who had come to the holy city for the festival.
- Now remember in Mark 11:1-7 when Jesus borrowed a colt before entering the city? In the same way, Jesus told His disciples of a providential sign. When they went into town, they would see a man doing something unusual: carrying a water jar on his head.
- This was how women transported water. Men typically used a big leather vessel, so it was a clear sign. Then they were to follow this man to his home and to ask him where the guest room for “the Teacher” was. He would lead them to “a large upper room furnished and ready,” which could probably seat up to thirty people.
- Then the disciples “prepared the Passover.” This included making sure that the place was free of leaven. It included baking unleavened bread, preparation of bitter herbs, stewed fruit and greens, securing wine for the four different symbolic cups for the feast, and getting and roasting a lamb.
- Illustration – Now the purpose of the Passover meal was a memorial meal to commemorate the night on which Yahweh delivered Israel from its cruel bondage in Egypt. As Moses, under God, gave instructions, the head of the household was responsible for all that took place.
- Four cups of wine was drunk through the night. At the first, the food was brought in, the youngest person would ask the traditional question: “Why do we eat these foods on this night?” The head of the household would then remind the household of God’s redemption through accepting the sacrificed lambs which were done out of faith. At this point the household would sing Psalms 113–115.
- Then the second cup would be passed round. Just before the meal itself was eaten, the plate of unleavened bread was lifted up, with the words: “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let everyone who hungers come and eat; let everyone who is needy come and eat the Passover meal.” The father would give thanks for the bread and break off a piece for each person present. It would then be passed round from one to the other.
- The bread was normally eaten and afterward, the meal then began, and when it was completed, the father took the third cup of wine, blessed it, and passed it round. Psalms 116–118 were then sung, and the Passover celebration concluded with the drinking of a fourth cup. These four cups of wine were drunk in conjunction with the four “I wills” of Exodus 6:6-7.
- Application – Now having a better idea of what happened at the actual feast and seeing how the disciples prepared the setting, verse 17 changes the scene! While Jesus and the twelve were eating, He stuns them with the announcement that one of them will betray Him.
- The word “betray” occurs ten times from 14:10 through the ugly events of chapter 15. And earlier Mark informed us that the unnamed betrayer here was Judas. Now perhaps with the silver coins in his pocket, Judas partook of the Passover meal. A meal that spoke of God’s faithfulness, grace, power, and promise. And yet, his heart was filled with betrayal.
- However, it is interesting that the disciples did not point their fingers at one another, but rather at themselves. There is no hint of self-assurance, each one seems to be in equal doubt. However, Jesus answers their question in verse 20.
- This reveals that Jesus had no plans to resist His betrayal and the horrible treatment and death that will come from it. For only Jesus can pay the ransom God requires. Therefore, the betrayal, abuse, and crucifixion of Jesus is no accident. This is God’s plan!
- Conclusion – But the fact that this is God’s plan, does not take away human responsibility. Jesus says “But woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” Judas was not a robot; he was no puppet. He was morally free to choose sin. But his sin was against God.
- When Jesus used the word “woe,” we need to know that the word is an exclamation of grief that follows a condemnation! In fact, Jesus further said, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” But this shouldn’t strike us as much as Judas’ hardness of heart. Even with such a condemnation, you would think that it will bring you to repentance and a cry for mercy. But that’s not happening!
- Bridge – What does this teach us? Being near to Jesus is no guarantee of discipleship to Jesus. Being near and not involved can even lead to a hardness of heart and a numbing of the conscience. In fact, that is what the Passover celebration became to the Jews, an idea of being near God but not truly being with God.
2. The Lord’s Supper:
- Text – 14:22-26
- Explanation – John’s gospel account tells us that Judas had left the room and was on his way to secure the temple guard, which would soon arrest Jesus. Yet, while this is taking place, the institution of the Lord’s Supper occurred, most likely, when the third cup of wine of the four was poured.
- When Jesus “took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body,’” Jesus was giving his disciples, in advance and in symbolic form, the benefits of His death.
- Illustration – And the cup represents “the blood of Christ’s covenant, which is poured out for many.” Jesus was teaching the disciples two things here: 1) His blood is enough to establish a whole new people; and 2), to secure His saving benefits, He must be embraced completely.
- That’s the connection between the first meal, the Passover; and the second, the Lord’s Supper. See the Passover in Egypt was a once off event that, by the shedding of blood, and faith in God, those who trusted in the shed blood would be delivered from God’s wrath.
- Now, with the Lord’s Supper, Jesus shows us that the final Lamb of God would shed His blood for His people, and those who trust in God’s word about the Lamb’s sacrifice, will be saved from God’s wrath.
- The words “which is poured out for many” in verse 24 refer to Isaiah 53, the words describing the work of God’s servant who will “bear the sins for many.” Jesus saves His people and they will all be saved because the blood of Christ is sufficient!
- Application – In the next verse Jesus told the disciples that He would “not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” He spoke of a day when he would drink of this cup “new.” The four cups would be replaced by one.
- Now all commentators note that Jesus did not drink the traditional fourth cup of wine. And the reason was that in a few hours, Jesus would drink of the cup of the wine of the wrath of God for His people.
- Conclusion – Coming to the end of the meal, it was customary at Passover meals, to sing a hymn. These would be Psalms 116–118. Interestingly, the crowds quoted from Psalm 118 when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (Psalm 118:25–26).
- In fact Psalm 118 was a recital of God’s “steadfast love,” which “endures forever”. It was a sweet reminder of God’s covenantal love. This would be an encouragement to Jesus as He heads to Gethsemane, through the Mount of Olives. The disciples too would need this reminder too.
- Bridge – Nonetheless, God promised at the first Passover to redeem His people from the bondage in Egypt. But it was also a promise of a day when His Son, the final Lamb, would come to redeem sinners from the bondage of sin and death.
- In application, today’s passage teaches us that until Jesus returns, we as the local church, are called to participate the Lord’s Supper until He returns. Why? To remember His cost to establish the covenant. To remember His commitment and continuation of the covenant. And to enjoy our communion with Christ and His church in covenant.
- And what exactly is this covenant? It is the promise that God makes with man that He will forgive sin and restore fellowship with those whose hearts are turned toward Him.
- Friends, we are called to walk as Jesus walked. To willingly embrace His will, whether it is in suffering or prosperity. So I ask you, do you see your need for the blood of the Lamb? Do you realise the condemnation under the wrath of God? In other words, do you see that you are a sinner before a holy God and that you need Christ to reconcile you to Him?
- If you do, and if you live in repentance before God, Jesus invites you to proclaim His death until He returns! Because in doing so, your sin-hardened heart is reminded of His great grace that grants you salvation. It reminds you of the grace He continually gives you to live a fulfilling and honouring life before Him. This is our grace in salvation, He paid the price so that we may live!
- How was the faith of the Jews tested in Egypt when God instructed them to prepare for the Passover? (Exodus 12:23)
- How does the participation of the Lord’s Supper help remind you of God’s grace in your life?
- In 1 Corinthians 11:27, Paul says we can partake in an ‘unworthy manner’, with regards to a sinful lifestyle, how does Paul’s exhortation urge you to watch how you live before the Lord?
- What did you learn from today’s passage? What helped you learn more about God’s grace?