A question for Protestants - Where was the lamb at the Last Supper - the roasted lamb?

“Where was the lamb at the last supper” – the roasted lamb?

There is probably no more controversial topic between Catholics and Protestants than that of the Holy Eucharist. When Christ, at the last supper, said, “This is My Body – This is My Blood”, was He talking only symbolically or did He really mean that the bread and wine were to be miraculous transformed into His real Flesh and Blood, while still retaining the outward appearance of bread and wine? The Catholic response to this question is, a resounding, YES, and this has been the constant teaching of the Church, from apostolic times till now. Ever since the words of consecration were first spoken at the last supper, the apostles and their successors have believed in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.

This post is the first of three parts which are based on a letter I wrote to a Protestant friend in response to a previous conversation we had about what our Lord meant, at the last supper. So I thought I would share some of the ideas we discussed, with this forum. The discussion with my friend gave rise to the following question – “Where was the lamb at the last supper” – the roasted lamb? The answer to this question will lead us to the first of three scriptural proofs, which show that Christ was talking literally.

To begin our discussion, we should ask two questions just for clarity. Does Christ have the power to change bread and wine into his own body and blood? And secondly, if He does, did He will to do so? I think most people would agree that Christ does have such power. If He created the entire universe out of nothing, He can certainly change bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. So lets concentrate on the second question; was Christ talking literally when he said: “This is My Body”?

At the Last Supper, Christ was celebrating the Passover with his apostles. Now before going any further, we should refresh our memories concerning the requirements of the original Jewish Passover meal, the night before the Exodus. The people had to procure and eat a REAL lamb (for nourishment for the journey out of Egypt) - Exodus 12:8 (the Paschal lamb had to be eaten). Suppose a family didn’t like lamb, and decided to bake a cake in the shape of a lamb and symbolically eat that. What would have happened? The next morning, their first-born would be dead. The instructions for that first Passover were very specific: they had to eat a REAL lamb. Also, the Jews were commanded (three times) to do this, each year, as a perpetual remembrance of that event (Exodus 12: 14, 17, & 24).

Consider now the question I mentioned at the beginning of this post: “Where was the lamb at the last supper” – the roasted lamb? In none of the gospel narratives is a Passover lamb (animal) mentioned during the Last Supper. Why? No Jewish Passover would have been a REAL Passover unless a REAL Passover lamb was eaten. If no real lamb was eaten, that Thursday night, then the Passover would have been invalid, and in violation of the requirements of Exodus 12: 14, 17, and 24. How do we explain this apparent difficulty?

If the Protestant view is correct, then all the apostles ate was a piece of bread, but, as pointed out above, if that was the case, then the Passover celebration was invalid because no real lamb was eaten. Remember – bread is not lamb! Now do you think our lord would have participated in an invalid Passover? NO! So again, how do we solve this dilemma – or what conclusion are we to draw from this?

Well, some might say that there was an animal type lamb there, but it just wasn’t recorded. Scripture, however, easily refutes this idea. Let us look at both John the Baptist, and St. Paul. John refers to Christ as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1: 29). In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Paul is more specific, and states:
“Christ is the Paschal Lamb who has been sacrificed.” Therefore, let us keep the feast…

In other words, Jesus is now the new Passover Lamb for all time. He is the lamb that was to be eaten at the last supper, and when he said to the apostles: This is My Body, they received the actual body of Christ - the living, heavenly, resurrected, glorified body of our Lord (not dead, earthly, flesh, in the cannibalistic way the Jews who walked away were thinking).

Paul confirms this again in 1 Corinthians 10:16, where he says: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a partaking of the body of Christ?)

There is one other point we must stress. Notice again, that Paul tells us that Jesus is our Pascal lamb who has been sacrificed - OK, but then Paul adds an additional requirement to Christ’s sacrifice when he says: “…Therefore, let us keep the feast…” What does this mean? It means that we must eat the lamb. “… let us keep the feast…” is a direct reference back to Christ’s command in John 6: 53-54 -“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have eternal life”.

So, just as the directions for the original Passover were very specific (they had to eat a real lamb), so too the directions for the New Testament equivalent of the Passover (the Eucharist at Mass) are very specific: we have to eat the Lamp – the real Lamb – Christ.

Remember that the Old Testament is basically a prefigurement of the New Testament. Many Old Testament events or situations dealt with physical life and death, and prefigured similar events or situations in the New Testament, which deal with spiritual life and death. So just as the Israelite’s had to eat a real lamb for physical health, so too, we must eat the lamb for spiritual health.

For a more in-depth discussion of this topic see Dr. Scott Hahn’s talk: “The 4th Cup”

youtube.com/watch?v=v1yAvrVoYzo&list=RDv1yAvrVoYzo&index=1

God bless.

That’s very interesting, although what you identify as a “problem” quoted above, isn’t. There would be no reason whatsoever to specify that the Last Supper, as a Passover meal, included lamb. It goes without saying that there was lamb on the table. Using the silence of the Bible about effectively mundane (Passover isn’t mundane, but there’s no reason one of the Disciples couldn’t have rustled up a lamb from somewhere; Jerusalem was full of people celebrating the Passover so there were presumably lambs kicking about) - things, puts one on dodgy ground. “Silence” on the matter might suggest Jesus never smiled or laughed, which is pretty implausible.

Now what you say regards Christ-as-Lamb in that meal is interesting when one moves away from the synoptic Gospels and looks at St John’s, because there the Last Supper is not the Passover meal at all, but takes place in the evening of 14th Nisan (the day before the start of Passover, when the lambs are slaughtered) - which makes Jesus’ symbolism in His death the following day as the Lamb much more apparent.

It’s all very interesting and I’m intrigued by what anyone else might write - but my quibbling nature forced me to point out that there’s not a need for people, writing for a Jewish-orientated community as the Gospel-writers were, to specify that at Passover the Disciples and Jesus had lamb!

Hi Zeland,

Just wanted to thank you for a wonderful paper - much work went into this and you have two more parts! It’s great. Of course Jesus is to be found in the O.T. and all is completed in the N.T. I mean fulfilled. Please post the other two parts.

This reminds me of the offering of Isaac. Genesis 22:1-14

As Abraham is talking Isaac up Mt. Moriah to offer him to God as instructed, Isaac asks his father Abraham: “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Genesis 22:7

Then Genesis 22:14 “And Abraham called the name of that place ‘The Lord Will Provide’”.

And provide He did! Ezekiel, Jeremiah. I’m sure you’ll get into that. Am looking forward to your post.

God bless you.

Zeland

Of course there was a roast lamb on the table at the Last Supper. If there hadn’t been, the Twelve would have queried the anomaly and that scrap of dialog would then have found its way into the Gospel narratives.

Now what you say regards Christ-as-Lamb in that meal is interesting when one moves away from the synoptic Gospels and looks at St John’s, because there the Last Supper is not the Passover meal at all, but takes place in the evening of 14th Nisan (the day before the start of Passover, when the lambs are slaughtered) - which makes Jesus’ symbolism in His death the following day as the Lamb much more apparent.

It’s all very interesting and I’m intrigued by what anyone else might write - but my quibbling nature forced me to point out that there’s not a need for people, writing for a Jewish-orientated community as the Gospel-writers were, to specify that at Passover the Disciples and Jesus had lamb!

Excellent point!!! :thumbsup:

Very interesting point made here. :thumbsup:

Interesting thread!

I am just speculating here, but isn’t it quite possible that Our Lord ate both the Paschal Lamb of the Old Covenant, and then afterwards instituted the Blessed Sacrament where He becomes the Sacrificial Lamb of the New Law? I immediately thought of the verse from the Pange Lingua where St. Thomas Aquinas writes:

In suprémæ nocte coenæ
Recúmbens cum frátribus
Observáta lege plene
Cibis in legálibus,
Cibum turbæ duodénæ
Se dat suis mánibus.

[On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He, the Paschal Victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own Hand.]

If Our Lord indeed “first fulfilled the Law’s command”, then isn’t it implied that He would have eaten of the lamb?

Matthew 26:18-19 tells us:

“But Jesus said: Go ye into the city to a certain man, and say to him: the master saith, My time is near at hand, with thee I make the pasch with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the pasch.”

Similarly, Mark 14:14-17:

“And whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house, The master saith, Where is my refectory, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples? And he will shew you a large dining room furnished; and there prepare ye for us. And his disciples went their way, and came into the city; and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the pasch”

Both Gospels attest that the “pasch” (which can be interpreted as referring specifically to the lamb) was indeed prepared for the Last Supper. Also, it is Our Lord Himself who requests that the “pasch” be prepared.

Once again, just speculating and offering some of my observations.

John, too, was describing a Passover seder, despite what he says about the priests’ reasons for not entering the palace (Jn 18:28). In five other places John describes what can only be a Passover meal:

  1. An evening meal beginning after dark: In a pre-industrial, largely peasant society this was done only on a special occasion, such as a wedding or a circumcision, and also the Passover seder, as laid down in Tractate Zebahim (Sacrifices) 5:8.

Jn 13:30, and it was night.
Mk 14:17, Mt 26:20, When evening came, …
1 Cor. 11:23, On the night he was betrayed, …

  1. They were reclining, not sitting. Also only on special occasions, including the Passover seder. Tractate Berakot (Benedictions), five references.

Jn 13:23, One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him … Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, …
Mk 14:18, While they were reclining at the table, …
Mt 26:20, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.

  1. All were ritually clean.

Jn 13:10, Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet.”

  1. Jn 13:27-29: “What you are about to do, do quickly.” Some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor. Nobody asked Jesus what Judas was going out to do. “Quickly” could mean “before the stores shut.” If it was 13 Nisan, there would be no such hurry.

  2. Jesus does not return to Bethany. The night of Passover had to be spent within the Jerusalem city limits, which included the western slope of the Mount of Olives.

Jn 18:1, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley [to] an olive grove.
Mk 14:26, Mt 26:30, They went out to the Mount of Olives.
Lk 22:39, Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives and his disciples followed him.

Source: Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, pp. 44-55. Jeremias lists several further arguments, all pointing in the same direction. I have picked out the five I find most convincing.

Interesting thread.

Seems like it could go either way, eh?

If Passover was a known future event (which it seemingly was / is), then preparations would have been made, which I would assume would include choosing and preparing the meat. (I claim no knowledge of actual procedure or timing, only that which is revealed in scripture)

But perhaps Jesus made it known to the necessary persons, that He (Jesus) was bringing the lamb (himself, not revealed at the moment of logistic discussions) and not to prepare one.

Of course, to be consumed in the much tastier form of bread and wine.

I think Zeland’s point is to show how the O.T. Passover was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrafice.

As R_H_Benson points out:

“I am just speculating here, but isn’t it quite possible that Our Lord ate both the Paschal Lamb of the Old Covenant, and then afterwards instituted the Blessed Sacrament where He becomes the Sacrificial Lamb of the New Law?”

Behold the Lamb of God. I would think that this is the important point to be made.

Also, Pesach and Pasach could mean “to passover” it could also mean:

to protect
to save
to shield

(see Isaiah 31:5 where the word shield is pasach)

And isn’t that what Jesus does for us?

Because something isn’t specifically mentioned in the bible doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. There could have been lamb on the passover table. Would they have had time to procure one? Anyway, this isn’t the point.

Jesus became our Passover Lamb. He is the ultimate and final sacrafice that God required so the we may not be dominated by sin or the sin nature.

Looking forward to pages 2 and 3.

God bless all

You’ve run a good race Dad! No more Alz, no more cancer, take your rest! 6-19-1941 : 7-19-2015

My condolences to ffg.
Had experience with both.
Your dad is in a better place!

God bless you

Thank you frangiuliano115

God Bless you as well!

Mike

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