52 Weeks at the Table – Week 42
Each of the gospel writers tells the Story of this meal a little differently. Matthew chooses to include this detail not told by the other three: That when Jesus instructs the disciples to go into the city and make preparations for the Passover with a certain many, they are to tell that man “The Teacher says, ‘My appointed time is near.’” There’s no record that they asked Him what He meant by it, nor that the man to whom they quoted it asked. Perhaps to them it was clear.
He had been telling them since He set His face resolutely toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), and especially all the week He taught at the temple since entering town as a king, that it was time for Him to be crucified. He had answered any protest of it with rebuke. This was His time: time to do what He had been set apart and had come to do; time to finish what He had begun. And after the meal celebrating the Passover of the firstborn sons, the consecrated Son of Israel would be taken by death – becoming the sacrificial Lamb of God.
A Prayer Over the Bread
Glorious God and Father of our Lord, we remember in this simple meal the sacrifice of Your Son, too powerful for any other sacrifice to succeed it. We remember His body given to rescue all of us – not just our firstborn sons – from certain and final death. We seek to comprehend that He was slain from the foundation of this world – perhaps from the moment of mankind’s first sin – and that this sacrifice was His time and His purpose. And we know that in this time, He has given us His purpose to live out for the remainder of our lives, strengthened by this bread, members of His body, always given and giving. May Your blessing rest upon this bread, and through it, upon us. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
God of inscrutable wisdom, we are not a people for whom sacrifice and blood as a sign of penitence for sin or of gratitude for blessing or of recognizing Your holiness has been a lifelong experience. We have not seen the ceremonies of slaughter, nor eaten the feasts of celebration. Still, the ideas that sin leads to death and that deliverance comes from God have come to us through the Story of Israel and Your prophets’ words and – most powerfully – through the blood of Your Son. This cup of blessing reinforces and expresses these powerful truths of penitence and gratitude and holiness. May your blessing rest upon this cup, and through it, upon us. Amen.