Lord’s Supper and Memorial Feasts
In the New Testament, Christians kept a memorial that signified the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Christians keep this memorial every first day of the week (cf. Acts 20:7). Since Christianity was offered to the Jews first (cf. Matt. 10:6; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16), the Jews would be familiar with keeping memorial feasts. Among the many Jewish feasts, the Jews observed three prominent annual feasts in Jerusalem every year that served as memorials for important events in their past or principles that God wanted them to remember. Consider the correlation of these Jewish feasts and the Lord’s Supper.
The first feast is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which Jews observed in the beginning with the Passover (Lev. 23:4-8). The Passover Feast was to remind them of their origin as a nation when the death angel passed over their firstborn when they observed such and paved the way for them to leave Egyptian bondage. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed this, signified that they were to be free from corruption and that they were distinct from the other heathen nations around them.
The second feast is the Feast of Pentecost, which is also the Feast of First-fruits or the Feast of Harvest (Lev. 23:9-22). This feast indicated that God is the benefactor of all blessings, including the harvest of the earth. The fruit of the land belongs to Him. The first fruits not only symbolize the best, but it also represents the rest of the harvest, because when they offered their first fruits, they were consecrating the rest of the whole harvest.
The third annual feast is the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Ingathering (Lev. 23:33-44). This joyous feast indicated a completed harvest. God intended this feast to remind them of how they lived in the wilderness and the lessons they should learn from their ancestors when they wandered through the wilderness, including and especially the fact that God miraculously took care of them the entire trip.
Now, what is significant about all three of these most important Jewish memorial feasts is that they offer spiritual lessons which are all encapsulated in the single important memorial feast of the New Testament—the Lord’s Supper. Jesus is our Passover Lamb (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7), which points to the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. The same emblems used in such (Matt. 26:26-29) offer the same lessons for us—Jesus offered Himself without spot and blemish (1 Pet. 2:21-24) as bread without leaven. Just as He was free from corruption, we are to strive to live free from corruption (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1). We are to be distinct from the world (1 Pet. 2:9). In addition, just as God has provided everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), including every spiritual blessing inherent within redemption (Eph. 1:3), we should respond by giving our very best to God (Matt. 6:33). These lessons point to the Feast of Pentecost, not to mention the fact that the church began on this day, because Acts 2 shows the first fruits of the gospel. Then, just as the Feast of Tabernacles was to remind them of their heritage, and the fact that God provided for them, we are to remember that God delivered us from the bondage of sin, providing for our every need (cf. Eph. 2:11-13).
I hope that these thoughts will enrich our thoughts and minds as we look forward to partaking of the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week.