In Mark 14:12-31, Jesus is viewed by the larger group of disciples as the father-figure who arranges the Passover celebration for his family.
In commemorating Israel’s escape from Egypt, in which the lamb was slain, its body eaten and its blood smeared above the doorpost, Passover looked back to God’s deliverance of his people, his new covenant and new beginning with them, and looked forward to the time when all things would be reformed and made new.
Jesus reformulated the Passover blessings, announcing that it was no longer the flesh of a lamb what was torn and consumed, but that “this is my body.” He announces that it is no longer the blood of the lamb that covers the family, but that “this is my blood of the covenant.” All this is astounding enough, but even more amazing is the company Jesus keeps as he makes these announcements, all in view of his imminent death and actual sacrifice.
Judas is there, celebrating with the Lamb. Peter is there, celebrating, arguing that he would never reject Jesus when it was he who is recorded as deserting Jesus first. And everyone else there celebrated even as Jesus predicted that they would all fall away.
It was easy to claim fealty in comfortable surroundings: it became much more difficult in the face of angry Roman soldiers and venomous religious leaders, or, in the case of Peter, the prying questions of a servant girl.
Jesus announced his coming sacrifice and celebrated the fact not with perfect followers who deserved his blessings, with those who would betray and desert him. As we receive the Lord’s Supper today, we sit at table as murderers, thieves, adulterers, idolaters…not as those who deserve his blessings.
God demonstrates his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
In receiving the Lord’s Supper today, we commemorate the fact that he received us while we were rebelling against him, and he continues to receive us despite our ongoing fits, tantrums and generally poor behavior.