So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When the hour had come (Jesus) took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you , I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took the cup and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see the one who betrays me is with me and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’
The accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke differ in detail, and there is no account as such in John. Luke’s version is slightly puzzling because of its inclusion of a cup before and after the bread (although the marginal note in NRSV indicates that ‘other ancient authorities lack, in whole or in part verses 19b-20 [which is given … in my blood])’. Whether ‘those authorities’ did that to make the text match Matthew and Mark, or whether they represent an earlier tradition, is something scholars will doubtless continue to debate. Either way it suggests that those verses are either a scribal insertion into an original text, or a deliberate omission to match the other Gospels. That has not been debated as much as the clear statement that the Last Supper was a Passover Meal, whereas the chronology of John’s account seems to suggest that it was not. I will not seek to resolve either dispute here, but it is only right to draw them to your attention, particularly as Luke’s version (tidied up) has become more widely used in newer liturgies. (I was brought up on the invariable use of Paul.) What is different in Luke, however, is the reference to the one who is to betray Jesus being present with them. Participation in the Lord’s Supper, however regular, is no guarantee of ultimate loyalty; so we must continue to remember and renew our commitment, particularly in the testing times of life.
Most gracious God, we praise you for what you have given and for what you have promised us in Communion. You have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth. You have fed us with the bread of life, and renewed us for your service. Now we give ourselves to you; and we ask that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom, and that our love may be your love reaching out into the life of the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge
If today’s Daily Devotion is not showing on your church’s website, this will have affected all church websites using this feed in the same way. Our volunteer technical team are probably aware of the issue and will be working to fix it as soon as they are able. Thank you.