“Jesus’ actions with the bread and the cup—which there is excellent warrant to regard as historical—must be seen in the same way as the symbolic actions of certain prophets in the Hebrew scriptures. Jeremiah smashes a pot; Ezekiel makes a model of Jerusalem under siege. The actions carry prophetic power, effecting the events (mostly acts of judgment) which are then to occur. They are at once explained in terms of those events, or rather of YHWH’s operating through them. In the same way, Jesus’ central actions during the meal seem to have been designed to reinforce the point of the whole meal: the kingdom-agenda to which he had been obedient throughout his ministry was now at last reaching its ultimate destination. Passover looked back to the exodus, and on to the coming of the kingdom. Jesus intended this meal to symbolize the new exodus, the arrival of the kingdom through his own fate. The meal, focused on Jesus’ actions with the bread and the cup, told the Passover story, and Jesus’ own story, and wove these two into one.”
-N.T. Wright in Jesus and the Victory of God.