A while back I had this very thought. I was curious and tried to dig in a little but life got busy and time went on. I never really got a good answer until the Lord decided to contend with me on this again. Here’s what was shed on my heart.
Jesus likely ate a variety of foods including bread, fish, olives, figs, dates, grains, and vegetables. These types of food were commonly consumed by people in the Middle East during Jesus’ time. He also likely drank water and wine. So, what was on the table at the Last Supper? In researching, there were a variety of traditional foods. According to the Bible, the meal included unleavened bread, roasted fish, dates, and other fruits. It is also believed that there was a soup-like dish of lentils and herbs. I’m not sure if you noticed this or not but it doesn’t seem that there were any kinds of animal meat. Why? To find out we must go back to Leviticus.
Leviticus is a book that most people find hard to read. It’s filled with a lot of stories about sacrificing animals, what animals to sacrifice, when and why. Some involved a bull, lamb, sheep, all without blemish. Or in some cases some blemishes were allowed for certain kinds of offerings. The Israelites were required to follow a long list of rules and regulations, including the famous 10 commandments. If you’ve ever read Leviticus, I bet you may have wondered what happens to the animals once they were burned on the altar? Well, the priests were the only ones who were allowed to eat the food that was burned on the altar. I’ll be honest, I would not have fared well back then! I’m grateful, we no longer live by those particular laws, thanks to Jesus! What a sacrifice He made! The completion and answer to our eternal relationship with God!
Now that we’ve looked back at Leviticus let’s circle back to one of our previous questions. What was on the table at the Last Supper? First we must know what exactly the Last Supper was. To our knowledge it was the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before His death. According to the gospels, it was a meal celebrating Passover. Okay, so what is Passover? It is a Jewish holiday to commemorate the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In my research I found that a typical meal during Passover consisted of Matzah or unleavened bread which represented the bread eaten by the Israelites before they left Egypt, and bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery. Other traditional foods include Charoset (a paste of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine or grape juice) to represent the mortar used by the Israelites when building, and a roasted shank bone of lamb. Now, I know there is a lot deeper research I could do here in all the symbolization but I couldn’t help but think about something specific. Which brought me to the other question.
Remember, according to the Bible, the Last Supper included food such as unleavened bread, roasted fish, dates, and other fruits. Maybe even a soup-like dish of lentils and herbs. It doesn’t seem that any animal meat or bones were on the table at the last supper. Why? The light bulb moment occurred! Could it be because Jesus was the offering of the Last Supper? Afterall, He is known as the sacrificial lamb! Jesus stated that eating the bread symbolized His body and the wine symbolized His blood. In my 37 years of life, this right here has finally hit home with the light bulb moment! I know the verses I’ve read and all the worship songs I’ve sang in regards to Jesus being the lamb who was slain but I’ve never once correlated it with Leviticus, Communion and what Jesus ate or didn’t eat on the Last Supper. I’ve never seen it all tied together on this level before! It’s almost like my brain can not contain all the revelations that are trying to be revealed to me at once. I’ve been trying to let it all sink in.
I had never correlated the last supper as a sacrifice in this particular way. Even though I knew Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins, the aha moment that the Last Supper was an actual part of the ultimate sacrifice is life changing for me. Then, First Peter 2:9 came to mind. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” WE are a royal priesthood, ya’ll! WE ARE! Which means.. we get to eat of the sacrifice! And so did the disciples!
Even though in Leviticus the priests ate the food after it was burned on the altar and the Last Supper was before Jesus died, it’s still a huge correlation we can not dismiss! Jesus had to teach the disciples so the progression was shifted just a tad. Now, we get to eat of the blood and body/bread and wine because we are now priests! How cool is that!? Also how interesting is it that the disciples really didn’t have a clue what was going down at that very moment? They were not a typical priest back in their day. They were everyday folks like us, yet they were getting to partake as a priest would in part of the greatest sacrifice ever! Just as we get to today with Communion! Isn’t it crazy how we never seem to know the vastness of a situation sometimes?
So in my conclusion of what I’ve been discussing with my Father lately, communion is a continuation of the holy sacrifice and atonements the Israelites practiced. Bare with me. It is our modern way of living as our ancestors did in the old testament. The OT always seems bizarrely different than we live today. However, is it really? Everything is threaded together in some way. Just so happens, Jesus was the loop hole to the contract God made with Israel! No longer are we required to sacrifice a bull or lamb or sheep but we are now required to remember Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice in our Communion! When do we need to remember? When the going gets tough! When we feel at our worst. When we think we’re too far gone and are weighed down by the sin in our lives. What would the Israelites do in moments of sin or falling short? They of course would, follow one of the sacrificial routines which involved all the rules and regulations we spoke about. Now, we sacrifice a moment of our time to remember Jesus’s sacrifice for us. Which in turn is our sacrifice to die to our flesh and return to our spirit man. This is our promise back to the Lord, to put down what we’ve been holding on to, pick up todays cross and follow Jesus once more.