When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
This was the last meal Jesus would eat with his disciples before the cross, the last Passover he would celebrate, and his institution of the Lord’s Supper. Before he institutes the Lord’s Supper he informs the disciples that one of them will betray him to the Jewish authorities (it is this moment in the meal that Da Vinci portrays in his famous painting). Jesus knows exactly what is going on and is in full control of the situation. One of his closest chosen followers should turn against him. See his suffering from the knowledge of betrayal.
Then Jesus does something unexpected. He takes the unleavened bread, breaks it, and gives it to his disciples, saying that it is his body. Obviously, it is not his actual body, because his physical body is handing it to them. In the same way, the wine is not his actual blood, which is still coursing through his veins. However, Jesus is reminding them of what he had told them previously in Galilee: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:54-56). He is speaking of belief in him. (John 3:16)
O, that everyone who reads these words would eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb of God! Trust in Jesus alone for salvation.
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
praise to our victorious King,
who has washed us in the tide
flowing from his pierced side;
Praise we him whose love divine
gives his sacred blood for wine,
gives his body for the feast,
Christ the victim, Christ the priest. (Latin hymn)