Every sermon I’ve ever heard except one refers to the last Passover meal Jesus ate with his disciples as the Last Supper.
Years ago in a Good Friday message, Jim Samra, my pastor thought this meal was given the wrong name by Bible translators. The Bible itself does not use the term The Last Supper. That’s simply the term almost all Bible translators used for the section of verses in Matthew, Mark and Luke that refer to what the bible calls The Festival of Unleavened Bread, or Passover. Who cares, you might be thinking?
“When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And 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 again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’
And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:14-17, 29, 30
In these verses, twice Jesus tells his disciples that one day, not that day 2,000 years ago, you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. The Last Supper!
It could be that Jesus will invite only the actual eleven disciples to this future event in Heaven. And whether this will be an actual event, or a metaphor for them receiving their reward for faithfully serving him isn’t clear. But most Bible commentators agree that the last supper on earth is simply foretaste of what we will experience with Jesus in Heaven after he returns and begins his new kingdom reign.
So, this Thursday if you celebrate communion on Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday, think of it not as the last supper, but the appetizer for the celebration to come in heaven. I like to imagine the day when millions, maybe hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus gather together and celebrate forever, the event every true believer longs for – the real and final, It is Finished! first supper. (No more appetizers!)