Can’t help but think of these things as we progress through Holy Week.
You may be wondering exactly is the Last Supper? It’s more than a painting, and they actually sat on both sides of the table.
The Last supper was the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples, his closest friends who had participated in his ministry over the past three years, before Jesus would give up his life on the cross for our sins, conquering death in the process.
The Last Supper happened during Passover, which was the feast of unleavened bread, or bread without yeast in it, celebrated by God’s chosen people to remind them of the time when they were just about to be freed from being slaves in Egypt. God was about to send the Angel of Death to come kill every first born child and animal living in Egypt. There was a way for this to be avoided though. If God’s chosen people sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood on the door frames of their front doors leading into their houses then the Angel of Death would pass over them, sparing their lives.
The Last Supper began just like any other passover meal…until the moment Jesus did something completely different.
Here is how it all went down. From Matthew 26:17-25
The Last Supper
17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
That had to have been incredibly intense. As if that wasn’t unexpected enough, Jesus then institutes the first ever Communion. Keep on reading.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 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.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
These 13 guys (including Jesus) must have been the absolute closest of friends. This had to be the toughest thing for them to go through. The idea that their leader and friend was about to die without a fight for the sins of everyone who had ever lived or who was yet to live.
I’m still not sure why Judas questioned Jesus about whether it was he who would betray him. Jesus knows everything. Plus, Judas plans were already recorded in the verse previous to the account of the last supper.
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14)
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Perhaps Judas was just saying these things to take the glaring eyes of the disciples off of him.
Of course it was toughest on Jesus most of all. After all, he knew he was going to die a cruel death since before he was born into this world probably, and because he was both fully human and fully God at the same time, he felt the pain of knowing you’re going to die, so much so that he sweat blood. Do you know how anxious a person has to be in order to actually do that?
Jesus is praying in the garden near the Mount of Olives, asking his Father, God to take his cup from him if possible. However, if there is no other way, he will do it. I’m so glad he kept to the plan, otherwise there would be no way for me or anyone else to pay for our own sins. Our penalty for the bad, selfish things we’ve done is death. However, Jesus decided to die for us so that we could choose to have a relationship with Him and be restored to God as we were meant to be. I’m so glad he did that.
While Jesus was praying, he asked his disciples to stay awake with him in his hour of turmoil as he waits for Judas to come with soldiers to betray him and send him off to the most painful day anyone has ever experienced. They fall asleep 3 different times. Must have been a long day. Finally the Roman soldiers come to arrest Jesus and send him on the most intense 24 hours of his life. Peter, with one sword tries to take them all on, but Jesus tells him not to, because if Jesus does not die, the gift of salvation and restoration of a relationship with God cannot be given to the whole world. I’m so glad Jesus kept to the plan. I hate the fact that I (along with everyone else who has lived or will live) contributed to murdering him. We’ll talk more about that in tomorrow’s post on Good Friday.