The term “Last Supper”, “Holy Communion”, “The Lord’s Supper”” or “Passover Meal” are commonly used in Christianity and are turned into ecclesiastical rituals common in most churches of the world.
The Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper – in Christianity – refers to the dinner of Jesus peace be upon him – with his disciples and sharing with them bread and wine – before the crucifixion – as alleged.
Many Christian sources point out that this event carries symbolic elements through which Jesus tried to send a certain message to his followers. The wine is claimed to be his blood that will be shed for mankind and bread is his body that would be crucified and broken for humanity and its survival.
Such event has become a basic ritual of the Church: the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist. A day was dedicated to celebrate it and was called “Maundy Thursday,” or in some churches as “Secret Supper” for establishing the secret of priesthood and the Eucharist. According to the Christian faith “Whoever ate such bread and drank this wine inevitably dissolve to be the flesh of Christ and the wine to be his blood”.
The institution of the Eucharist is recorded in the three Synoptic Gospels and in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. The Bible gives the following account of the incident:
In (1 Corinthians 23: 11-26):
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.
In the Gospel of John: (51: 6):
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29).
However, a quick contemplative look at such evangelical additional accounts of the Last Supper shows them as mere “imaginative dramatic events and plots” added by the storyteller’s imagination. Such events allude to the killing and crucifixion of Jesus who, inevitably, was raised to the heavens and was not killed or crucified, let alone the conflicting narrations of the incident in the Gospels.
There is no mention of the term “Last Supper” in the Qur’an when it tells about the story of Jesus (peace be upon him). The Qur’an, however, refers to another incident in which Jesus’ disciples asked him to drop for them a table from heaven as a sign for them of his truthfulness:
“[And remember] when the disciples said, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said,” Fear Allah, if you should be believers.” They said, “We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses.” Said Jesus, the son of Mary, “O Allah, our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.” Allah said, “Indeed, I will sent it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you – then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds.”.(2:112-115)
Al-Tabari, a well-known Interpreter of the Qur’an, expounds these verses saying: “They asked him a sign for answering their call so that they may be sure of Allah’s ability over all things and their hearts be assured, and witness it and testify that God have descended it as a proof of His right to be worshiped as the sole Lord and Jesus as a real Prophet. Jesus replied:“ Fear God if you are believers”.
They asked the sign to be “Eid” (An annual or weekly rite). Al-Tabari says, “They asked it to be a feast on which they and successive generations may worship and pray for him”.
Qur’an exegetes differed as to what the “table” contained, but they all agree that it never contained wine as the gospels claim for it was prohibited according to the Old-Testament and the New-Testament. Al-Tabari notes: “It is possible that it was fish and bread, and it is possible that it was paradise-fruit, and any other thing else. Whatever, the case there is no harm not to know it”.
The Qur’anic account of the event states that the disciples of Jesus were the ones who asked the table from Jesus, peace be upon him, not Jesus who invited them to it as the Gospels claim. Moreover, the account of the event by Paul attributes a blasphemous talk to Jesus when he said: “The more you eat this bread and drink this cup, you tell of the death of the Lord (God) until he comes back.” How could Jesus claim to be, according to the Bible, a god who would die!
On the contrary, in the Qur’anic account of the story of the table we touch the awe Jesus had while addressing his Lord to descend it. Jesus humbly admits himself to be a worshiper to his Lord and a slave who needs support. He condemns the disciples (presumed to be Apostles by Christians) for irrespective ask of the sign of the table from the Lord as a proof of His truthfulness. Allah (God) Almighty reminds us of such majestic dialogue between Jesus and his Lords in the following words,
“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness. If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. Allah will say, “This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness.” For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment. To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is within them. And He is over all things competent”. (5:120)
- Shalabi, A., Christianity.
- Wikipedia Site
- Al-Tabri, Jami Al-Bayan (Tafsir Al-Tabari)