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Assess the significance of knowledge of its Jewish background for a full understanding of the last supper?

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Introduction

Assess the significance of knowledge of its Jewish background for a full understanding of the last supper? Luke sees the Last Supper as a direct parallel to the Jewish Passover in the Old Testament. Scholars such as 1Caird would argue against this and feels that Luke has not been accurate about the date of the meal in relation to the Passover. It is argued that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal since only two elements of the Passover meal, bread and wine, were involved and it has been said that if the lambs were being killed on the day of the last supper then Jesus and his disciples were eating it a day early. Furthermore, It would have been against the Passover rules for any work to be prohibited. The Sanhedrin would not have functioned. In addition, religious leaders would have risked ritual defilement by having anything to do with Pilate at the time. The whole business of the trials and especially the element of urgency about them. Caird tells us that not all of Luke's information was accurate about the Jewish Festival. ...read more.

Middle

The Passover was much a celebration of spiritual freedom as the physical liberation from slavery. This refers to the forgiveness of sins and thus achieving freedom through union with God. A whole lamb was required to be eaten on the night of the Passover. It was a reminder of the first Passover in which the angel of death was kept from the first-born of Israel, protected by the blood of the lamb. However this was missing from the Last Supper parable. According to 5Morris it may that Luke simply chose to leave out this part since so much extra emphasis was put on the cup and unleavened bread instead. However a more convincing argument put forward by Ellis is the fact that the lack of lamb suggests that Jesus knew he was being the lamb. This is an indication that Jesus knew what was going to happen into the future. It was hardly a coincidence that he was being crucified at the same time as the symbol of God's past deliverance in the temple courts. ...read more.

Conclusion

According to 8Barrel this is another link with the Jewish Passover. When the Jews were suffering, it was their faith in the Promised Land that sustained their hope and faith. Jesus also spoke of the promised Kingdom of God to those who believed. This gave the gospel readers faith. When Jesus raises the cup and states, "take this as my body and blood" in reference to the bread and wine. 9Ellis believes that is also a reference to the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.12 who "poured out his soul and death... to bear the sins of many". According to 10Stanton underlying this is once again the theme of freedom from our sins from the blood of Christ. While the bread pertains to the earthly body and sinless life of the Lord Jesus, the wine is a visual symbol of His shed blood and violent death as the divine provision for men's forgiveness of sin. In conclusion, it is vital to have knowledge of the Jewish background for a full understanding of the Last Supper. Without this background information, we cannot be sure to what extent the Last Supper is significant in Jesus ministry. ...read more.

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