17When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
22While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
According to Mark, the meal the disciples and Jesus share was the Passover Seder, the meal shared between friends and family in which they retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. This is a meal of celebration rooted in ritual; ritual foods, ritual drink, and ritual remembrance. Jesus knew this would be the last meal he shared with the disciples. Even though he knew that one of them would soon betray him, they ate and drank as friends, as family.
Eating was a central theme in the life and ministry of Jesus. Eating is central to our Christian faith as well as we gather together for potlucks, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Eating together was and continues to be a celebratory moment, even when darkness looms over the horizon, as it did for Jesus.
This was the last meal for Jesus but it was the first Communion for those who would become Christians. Communion is a sacrament—a ritual in which God draws us closer to God and to one another. It is more than a simple remembrance of Christ Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection it is that and more. It is a time in which we join together with all of the Christians who have come before us and all of those Christians who will come after us—it truly is a foretaste of the glorious heavenly banquet to come.
Holy God, we give to thanks and praise for your gracious gift and sacrifice of your son, Christ Jesus. We also offer thanksgiving for the sacrament of Communion in which you pull us closer to your very breast. We have done nothing to deserve this grace and mercy and yet you continue to bring us ever closer to you and to one another. Thanks be to God. Amen.