The Triumphal Entry and Triumphal Last Supper

Apr 7, 2023Theology0 comments

The Triumphal Entry

The Triumphal Entry and Triumphal Last Supper. Palm Sunday remind us of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. But do you know about the Triumphal Last Supper that takes place at the end of the week?

The Triumphal Entry

Matthew 21:8

And most of the crowd kept spreading their garments on the road, and others kept cutting branches from the trees and scattering them on the road.

The streets were very crowded because this took place during an important feast week on the Jewish calendar. Jews were expected to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus’ riding into Jerusalem with triumphal fanfare was not the norm and surprised everyone. Some were happy, and others feared him. The Triumphal Entry’s real importance was due to this fulfilling a prophecy. The Bible Prophet Zachariah tells us exactly how the Messiah will come into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey! His arrival is as a servant king worthy of their Hosannas, while meekly coming on a donkey. Many expected Messiah to arrive on a king’s white horse. This unexpected way of coming hid its worth from those who were spiritually blind.

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “triumphal” is “make, carry out, or use in the celebration of a great victory or achievement.” This is of course an appropriate phrase to attach to the event. Jesus is entering amid triumphal shouts of praise as if a king celebrating a victory. Although they shout Hosannas as He enters, Jesus is not given a normal coronation. The crown waiting for Him is a crown of thorns.

The Triumphal Last Supper

Let’s focus now on the secretly triumphal aspect of an event that takes place later that week. Passover celebration for the Jews, then and now, culminates in a meal called the Passover Seder. This tradition commemorates the day Moses led their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt. Here is an important new insight. For Jesus, His final Passover Seder becomes His Triumphal Last Supper.

It is a tense week in Jerusalem

During the remainder of the week, Jesus is ducking in and out of the city with no ovations. He is taking care of business. Jesus clears out those making the Temple an unscrupulous marketplace rather than a house of prayer. Jesus heals the blind and lame who came to Him and shames the Pharisees who challenge His authority to do so. A woman anoints His body with costly perfume in preparation for His burial. The religious leaders begin their final plotting against Him. Jesus speaks in parables of the end times and of His coming death and final victory over death. 

I have desired to eat this Passover

There are many mixed emotions as they gather in the upper room. Some fear arrest. Some hold out hope for a sudden overthrow of enemies of Israel and Jesus taking the throne of David. A mother has sought to get her sons a better position in His courts, infuriating the others. There is talk of betrayal. Yet with all that is going on, Jesus says,

Luke 22:15

… With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer:

What makes this Passover meal more to be desired than others? And what makes it triumphal?

What is triumphal about the Passover meal for Jews?

Remember The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “triumphal” is “make, carry out, or use in the celebration of a great victory or achievement.” What makes this a triumphal meal for Jews? First, the Passover meal recounts the triumphal, miraculous exit from Egypt. Egypt refused to “let His people go.” True miracles proving the power of God over all the power of their gods, Pharoah finally agrees to let them go without a fight. Great victory and achievement. Next, they are to eat the Passover meal in haste, dressed to leave, and they do the next morning. God gives them spoils of the wealth of their enemies. It is recompense for their suffering. More great victories and achievements. The Hebrew celebration recounts all of this and more as they remember their bitterness, and their sorrow turned to joy. It is for the Hebrews a triumphal celebration.

How is the triumph of Jesus hidden in the Passover?

There are many parts to the Seder meal. Modern-day observances use Matza. This bread has no leaven in it. This much like what they use in the days of Jesus. Matza bread is unique. It has stripes of color on it made of toasted areas. They look like bruises, and there are also holes piercing in it. There is no leaven in the bread because leaven respresents sin.

This “sinless” bread is what they are hiding in the tradition of hiding the Afikomen. The father beaks a piece of Matza and wraps itin white linen. They hide it somewhere in the room as if it is treasure. All the young children look for it. The one who finds it barters with it and gets a ransom for its return from the Father at the dinner. After its redemption, that they beak this piece into small pieces and all participants in the meal eat from this same piece of matza.

This is my body

Now here is where Jesus makes a small but monumental change. Jesus reveals the meaning of the redeemed piece of bread. Jesus breaks the bread and shares it with the disciples, Jesus makes one change in the script:

Luke 22:19

And he took bread and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

This is my blood

In the Jewish celebration, there are several cups of wine which all have meaning. The other change Jesus makes is to ask the disciples to partake of the third cup of wine that is set aside for and represents the coming Messiah:

Luke 22:20

Likewise, also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

The Triumphal Last Supper

The entire seder meal can be a great experience for any Christian when shared in the light of the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah. Nevertheless, we can also simply partake of the bread and the juice of the grape.  Jesus uses these elements to represent His body and blood. Taking these two elements enable us to share in the Triumphal Last Supper of Jesus Christ. This is all we really need to celebrate the what many call the Table of the Lord. Another name for this is Communion. The Jewish version of the seder misses out on the revelation that their Messiah has come. Jesus, the promised Seed of Abraham, makes a new covenant replacing the old one that required a Passover Lamb. Jesus is the Passover Lamb. The sinless, striped, and pierced bread celebrates Jesus heroically dying for us, and triumphantly victorious over death on Resurrection Sunday.

Isaiah 53:4-5

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash


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