Brant Pitre, in his new book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, examines what Jews were expecting when it came to the Messiah. This may seem like an odd place to begin in understanding Eucharist, but if you are a 1st Century Jew it is the only place one could have begun.
1. The coming of a New Moses.
2. The making of a New Covenant.
3. The building of a New Temple.
4. The journey to a New Promised Land.
For the first, consider Deut 18:15-18:
15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”17 The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.
Brant then points to a (much later) rabbinic text that speaks of the New Moses entering on a donkey, as Jesus did.
Then consider the New Covenant. Israel was delivered from Egypt to become God’s worshiping community. Exod 4:22-23; 24:5-11 — finishing in a meal of eating together. Then we get Jeremiah 31:31-33. And the later rabbis connected the final days with a glorious banquet.
Two themes important for Eucharist, today, wherever we are and whatever view we have of Eucharist: our Lord is the New Moses who leads us into the New Exodus, and our Lord has created the New Covenant so long anticipated.