Let’s walk with Jesus in the moments leading up to the Last Supper! In Matthew, Jesus says, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2).
For the preceding months, Jesus had been announcing His impending death. Now, He gives the exact date.
We generally recognize this date on Maundy Thursday, which is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. At this point, Jesus had ended His public ministry and began to spend time with His disciples in a more intimate setting. During this time, we see the foot-washing and last supper of Jesus with His disciples, as described in the canonical gospels.
Scholars (such as Finis Dake) pinpoint the actual date of the Last Supper as being sometime after sunset on Wednesday of Holy Week. However, before the Last Supper even happened, Judas had already gone to the chief priests and made a deal to hand over Jesus for the price of thirty pieces of silver.
Can you imagine one of your hand-picked associates betraying you?
Jesus already knew who would betray Him when He announced, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Then He pronounced a “woe” on Judas saying, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” That’s a serious indictment.
Yes, God is love; but, He also expects our love and devotion.
We all have choices to make in life. I choose to follow Jesus as Lord of my life.
Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal together that night.
We call it the Last Supper because it was the last time Jesus and His disciples would eat together before His death.
The original Passover meal is recorded in Exodus 12. God told the Jewish people to take a male lamb without blemish, put its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their homes.
God’s last plague against the Egyptians was the death of all firstborn males, both humans and animals. The Lord spoke this saying, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt and will strike all the firstborn in the land … against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment … and when I see the blood, I will PASS OVER you” (Exodus 12:12-13, emphasis mine).
The Passover meal was always in an intimate setting in homes, not in public places or even the synagogue.
Jews throughout all generations celebrated this feast commemorating the original Passover event of their freedom from Egypt. The actual meal, or Seder, included:
- A time of reading;
- Telling stories;
- Eating special and symbolic foods;
- Drinking four ceremonial cups of wine; and
The menu consisted of bitter herbs (like veggies), dipped in salt and served with horseradish, which reminded them of the afflictions in Egypt. Originally, the meat served was roasted lamb.
They also served Matzah bread (cracker-like bread without yeast), which had a special meaning. The Matzah bread was broken in half–one half broken again and served, while the other half was hidden.
The cups of wine were also symbolic as “toasts” to the miracles of God. The third cup of wine was called the cup of redemption. It was this cup that Jesus shared with His disciples after He had broken the bread with them. The disciples had eaten this meal many times in their lifetime. But they had never heard anyone say, “Take, eat; this is My body.” I wonder if they looked at each other in amazement.
What Jesus was indicating by this was that in just a few short hours, His body would be broken and marred by beating with many stripes.
Later, the disciples would remember Isaiah writing that “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Then Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and distributed it to the disciples saying, “Drink from it, all of you” (Matthew 26:28). As stated above, most likely this was the third cup of the Passover meal which was the cup of redemption.
Right then and there, Jesus was fulfilling this part of the ritual that had been observed for centuries. All the symbolism of the Passover meal was being fully satisfied forever by Christ.
Jesus was initiating a new covenant!
Wow, what a night! What covenant relationship! What intimacy! A true prophetic occurrence! Then Jesus said this, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” In doing this, Jesus not only fulfilled the Jewish Seder observations, but He was also giving them hope for His return.
Christians in the first century began to “break bread” or have communion on a daily basis.
Remember, the first Christians were all Jewish until God opened the door to Gentiles (like Cornelius through Peter). Luke recorded a beautiful picture of the church, alive and in action, saying;
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So, continuing daily, with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47).
Communion is a way to commune with God while at the same time be in fellowship with each other.
Perry Stone calls communion “The Meal that Heals.” It heals our bodies, and it also allows us to join together with pure motives and a clean heart and conscience.
After the Passover meal that night, they sang a song. Then, they went out to the Mount of Olives, one of Jesus’ favorite places to pray. He warned them that they would all stumble that very night because of what He was about to face. Jesus quoted Zechariah, saying, “Strike the Shepherd” and the sheep would scatter. Trying to give them hope, He then said, “But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go before you to Galilee” (Matthew 26:32).
The disciples were clueless as to what “raised from the dead” meant. They were still struggling with the statement regarding them being made to stumble. Peter, along with the other disciples, assured Jesus that they would never stumble or deny Him. But, Jesus knew. He said that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed by morning.
I know we’ve all done this – making rash promises to God without the knowledge or the power to fulfill them.
Remember, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Maybe the disciples are sensing that something is going awry in their estimation – maybe Jesus isn’t going to deliver them from Rome … and why does He talk about His death?
Matthew’s gospel changed the scene as Jesus began praying in Gethsemane. He prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Your will.” Jesus was not fearful of dying, but He was associating His death with the weight and the price of mankind’s sin. He was sensing His imminent separation from the Father. He was experiencing extreme anguish and intense grief as His sweat (on a cold night) fell like drops of blood–so much so that an angel was sent to strengthen Him (see Luke 22:43).
When Jesus finished praying, He woke up His sleeping disciples and said that it was time to go. His betrayer was present. While He was still speaking, Judas approached Jesus and kissed Him.
Can you imagine being betrayed with a kiss?
That is just what the wiles of the devil and his evil are like. He will approach you at your weakest moment. But, Jesus was in control of the situation even though it looked like the end. He submitted Himself to the mob that came out to arrest Him; it was all a part of God’s plan to redeem mankind.
Sometimes when it seems darkest, we need to remember that God has everything under control.
When you face a dark time, look unto Jesus. Look up! In the daytime, we can only see a few yards–or, at best, a few miles. But in the nighttime, we can see for hundreds or even thousands of miles. Just look up at the stars and remember that He knows each one by name!
How much more does God know your name and your condition?
If you are in covenant with Him, He will take care of you. Be assured that when you pray, even if you don’t know what the outcome will be, God entered the situation as soon as you prayed!
That, my friend, is a promise!
My next post will be on the Crucifixion and the events leading up to it. So, keep watching! Redemption is about to come, even though all hell may break loose.
What are some situations in which you are believing for redemption to come forth? Please leave a comment below, and let me know so I can stand with you in agreement!