The Suffering Lamb and the Last Supper
by Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor
FBC, Spanish Fort, Ala.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) painted his rendering of “The Last Supper.” It is this image of Jesus and His disciples sitting upright at a table, that many still have in their minds. We must beware of “artistic license” that abounds in the depiction of many biblical accounts, lest we are carried away from truth.
I. First, note Christ in the Passover through prophecy and type.
A study of Bible symbols and types is extremely interesting and inspiring.
Exodus 12:1-28 reads:
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’ Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”
From the second giving of the law, Deuteronomy 15:19-16:8 reads:
“All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock you shall sanctify to the Lord your God; you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. You and your household shall eat it before the Lord your God year by year in the place which the Lord chooses. But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. You may eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean person alike may eat it, as if it were a gazelle or a deer. Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it on the ground like water. ‘Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to put His name. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning. ‘You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you; but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it.”
Dr. Thomas Constable shares the following attributed to Dr. Merrill C. Tenney 1904-1985): “As the first Passover had been the turning point in the redemption of the people of God, so the Cross would be the opening of a new era for believers.”
Hebrews 10:1-18 reads:
“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’ Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
II. Second, note Christ on the Passover by precept and example.
In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus said:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Note how Jesus observed the Passover with utmost attention to detail.
The term “synoptic” means to see together. Observe in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, and Luke 22:1-28) how Jesus taught His followers about the Passover by precept and example.
Dr. Merrill C. Tenney shares the following in John: The Gospel of Belief:
“John’s account of the last meal of Jesus with His disciples differs in many respects from that the Synoptics. No mention is made of the preparation by Peter and John, nor of the procedure of the meal, nor of the discourse concerning the significance of the bread and the cup, nor of the contention for primacy that took place among the disciples at the supper. All of those are listed by one or more of the Synoptic writers. On the other hand, the Synoptics do not relate the story of the footwashing, nor do they repeat fully Jesus’ discourse on the example of service. . . . In contrast to the self-seeking of the disciples, Jesus took a place of humility. He set the example of service, not of strife, of self-abasement rather than of self-exaltation. His assumption of the towel was a representation in miniature of His entire career, an accurate picture of Philippians 2:6-8: ‘Who, existed in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.”
According to Scripture, Jesus Christ is the perfect example. 1 Peter 2:21-25 reads:
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 John 2:6 reads, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” While Jesus Christ is the perfect example, He was the only one without sin and we must receive His forgiveness of our sin based on His vicarious death and victorious resurrection before we should attempt to follow His example. In fact, we cannot follow His example of looking to the Father, listening to the Father, and learning from the Father, until we are born from above. Jesus relied on the Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit as well as the Father.
III. Third, note Christ as the Passover for praise and glory.
Paul the apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
Colonel Henry Gariepy (1930-2010) comments:
“In our text [1 Corinthians 5:7], Paul allegorizes the memorial Passover feast with the Christian life. The Passover was a family feast that commemorated the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. It called to mind the tenth and climactic plague when the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. The angel of death passed over in recognition of the lamb’s blood sprinkled on the doorposts and the Israelites were enabled to go forth from their bondage in Egypt. ‘Christ Our Passover’ is a title pregnant with sacred meaning.”
The apostle Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” It is only when we have appropriated by faith the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Passover Lamb, that we can “keep the feast.” May we honestly and heartily exclaim, “Great sacrificial Lamb of God, I thank You for the salvation and security in Your blood shed for me.”
From 1 Corinthians 5:8 we know leaven or yeast represents “malice and wickedness”, but did you know leaven or yeast represents hypocrisy (Luke 12:10); unbelief (Matthew 16:6); compromise (Mark 8:15); and false doctrine (Galatians 5:9)?
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul writes on this theme of praise and glory in Ephesians 1:3-14:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Later, he writes about the way we were. Ephesians 2:1-3 reads:
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains:
“Passover was ‘Independence Day’ for Israel as a nation, for on that night the Lord not only gave them freedom from slavery but also demonstrated His great power over the gods and armies of Egypt. Israel celebrated Passover a year later at Sinai (Num. 9:1-14); but after their rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea (Num. 13-14), the nation didn’t celebrate Passover again until the new generation had entered the Promised Land (Josh. 5:10-11). Once they were settled in the land, the men had to obey the command to go to the sanctuary to observe Passover, and they could take their families with them. Parents were instructed to use the occasion of Passover to instruct their children about Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 12:25-28).”
In Scripture there are several passages related to the great sacrifice of Christ our Passover. For example, John 1:29 reads, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” Galatians 1:3-5 reads, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 5:2 reads, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Titus 2:11-14 reads:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
1 Peter 1:18-19 reads, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Isaiah 53:5-7 reads:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.”
Revelation 5:8-12 reads:
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing.'”
Dr. Theodore Wilhelm Engstrom (1916-2006), editor of Christian Digest, shares the following from a publication titled, Good News: “A Bible was given to Don Gregorio, a Venezuelan, who commenced to read it from its beginning. Before reaching Exodus 12, he learned that he was a member of a ruined, sinful race. In reading this chapter, he thought that what God had demanded then ought still to be of benefit. So, he with the use of a kid, performed the rites of the Passover, putting the blood on the door posts of his house, roasting the kid, and eating it with his family. He still continued to read his Bible, and learned through the New Testament that this was but a type of Christ, our Passover slain for us. He believed and was saved.”
Thomas Constable, Expository Notes by Dr. Thomas Constable, “Commentary on John 13:1”, http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/view.cgi?bk=42&ch=13
Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief “The Last Supper,” (John 13:1-20), (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 196-197, 200-2001.
Henry Gariepy, 100 Portraits of Christ, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 153.
Warren W. Wiersbe, Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament: Pentateuch, 416, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
Sermon Outlines and Illustrations, comp. and ed., Theodore W. Engstrom, “Enlightened,” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1942), 116.
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