WHILE THEY were eating the passover meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and holding it in his hand, with his eyes lifted to heaven, spoke a blessing upon it. Then he broke it and gave a piece of it to each of the disciples. As he gave it to them, he said :
“Take this, and eat it; this means my body which is given for you.”
Then he took a cup of the wine, and blessed it, and gave this also to his disciples, saying :
“Drink from this, all of you; this means my blood, the blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many, to take away their sins. I tell you, from this time I will never again drink the juice of the grape, until that day when I drink it new with you, in the kingdom of my Father.”
In the old times, an agreement or promise was called “a covenant,” and when it was made a lamb or a goat was killed for an offering, and laid upon the altar to be burned. The blood of the offering was poured out on the altar; and this was called “the blood of the covenant.” Jesus meant to tell his disciples that soon his blood would be poured forth as the sign of God’s promise to take away sin from those who believed in him.
You have seen at some services in the church a table covered with a white cloth. When the cloth has been taken away, you have seen plates of bread and cups of wine. The minister gives the bread to the people, and repeats the words of Jesus, “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.” And afterward as the wine is taken, he says, “Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood shed for you.” This service is called “The Lord’s Supper,” and it is held to keep in our minds the thought of the last meal that Jesus ate with his disciples.
“My dear children,” said Jesus after the supper, “I am to be with you only a little longer; then you will look for me, and as I told the Jews I tell you now, where I am going you cannot come. I give you a new commandment, to love one another. As I have loved you, you are to love each other. By this every one will know that you are my disciples, by your loving each other.”
“Lord,” said Simon Peter, “where are you going?”
“I am going,” answered Jesus, “where you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow me after a time.”
“Why cannot I follow you now, Master?” asked Peter. “I am ready to lay down my life and die for you!”
“Will you lay down your life for me?” said Jesus. “I tell you truly, Peter, before the cock crows twice tomorrow morning you will three times declare that you have never known me.”
But Peter again said most earnestly, If I must die with you, I will never deny you.”
And all the disciples who were present said with Peter that they would never forsake their Lord, even unto death.