I have recently become more interested in the historical Jesus. For me, the starting point of my Christian faith must be an understanding of who the mortal Jesus was and what he was trying to do for his contemporaries. There are other Jesuses, of course — the premortal Word and the Christ of the Church — but given the absolute theological centrality of the historical Incarnation, I want to know how Jesus of Nazareth was meant to be understood in the context of 1st century Palestinian Judaism. I believe in Jesus’ divinity but it is his divinity as uniquely embedded in a historical moment that most compels me. I am also more and more convinced that Jesus was attempting to change men’s hearts in the here and now. That is not to ignore the promise of “treasure in heaven” but I think the real value of that promise is to guarantee a happy ending — and thus provide a relief — to our mortal travails. It is in this context that I would like to offer the following reading of the Last Supper.
For Christians, the Last Supper seems to have made Jesus into a kind of Dionysus in which by eating his flesh we become joined to the god in a mysterious union. Maybe, but is that what Jesus really intended? The Last Supper was simply that, the last supper of many, and it is Jesus’ social eating prior to the Passion that offers insight into how Jesus used food and feasting to drive a message of love and inclusion. His fellowship at meals was frequently criticised (Matt 11:19) because it broke Jewish purity laws when he sat down with “tax agents and sinners.” That Jesus of Nazareth tried to break down the social and ritual barriers that separated people is well-known, but we ought not to ignore this mission when he comes to Jerusalem, overwhelmed as we are by the grandeur of Holy Week.
Jesus’ view of purity ran perpendicular to that of the Jewish authorities. His cleansing of the temple was an act of aggression against the corruption of the Jewish elite. From that moment on, he was doomed. Then he went further, saying over the bread and the wine in the upper room that “this is my body” and “this is my blood.” Read both in companion with the temple incident and Jesus’ history with food, he did not mean, “here is my body, here is my blood” referring to symbols of his own flesh, but rather that, as Bruce Chilton suggests, “these . . . were his substitute sacrifices, replacing the blood and flesh of animals being sacrificed at the Temple” .
His message, then, is this: he rejects the Jewish Temple as it was presently governed and all the notions of purity and elite sociality that it represented, and replaces it with a communal fellowship of love. If this interpretation is right, and I think it is, remember this when you next take the sacrament: it is not the emblems that are really holy and they themselves are not the symbols of Christ; instead, it is the ritual partaking of this festal meal with friends and family, regardless of status, that is the real memory of Jesus. It is precisely in this sense that the eating and drinking brings us to union with God.
 “What Jesus did at the Last Supper” in Jesus: the last day (Biblical Archaeology Society).