The sudden disappearance of Judas did nothing to retard the preparations for Passover.
Jesus sent Peter and John to find a suitable room for them to celebrate the covenantal meal and to see that it was properly prepared. It would be very much like finding the colt of the donkey. Jesus predicted events and people who would lead them to their goals. It happened just as Jesus prophesied:
- They met a man carrying a pitcher of water. (Such work had to be completed before sundown.)
- They followed the man to his house and entered.
- They asked the question Jesus gave them:
“The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”
Just as Jesus predicted, the man showed them to a large room. They took possession of the room and prepared the Passover meal
Peter and John marveled at the control Jesus had over events and people. Surely nothing could happen to Him that He did not allow to happen. Their inner sense of security warmed within them as they prepared the room and the meal for their beloved leader. They hardly noticed when the other ten appeared for the meal that Judas was back among them.
The Last and the First
The meal that followed these preparations is called the Last Supper for, indeed, it was the last fellowship meal until in a few days, under a New Covenant, they would all eat freshly caught fish by the sea. This Passover was also the last such religious ceremony of the Old Covenant serving as a memorial to the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt. To be sure, Passovers and Passover meals have been celebrated in all the years since that night, but they continue as a sign of the Old Covenant. On this night a New Covenant would be announced to take its place. It would be a celebration of a broader deliverance.
This meal was also the First Communion celebration. Jesus recast the role of the meal as the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the initiation of the New. Just as in the Old Covenant, the sign of the New Covenant will be this ceremonial meal, redefined by the work Jesus was about to do. Hear His words:
“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
As wonderful as the deliverance from Egypt had been, believers would from this point celebrate the deliverance of the mankind from sin. The Twelve had celebrated this meal their whole lives and now Jesus was about to reveal the true meaning of it.
His Body and Blood
Jesus took bread and blessed it. He broke it an distributed it among the men, saying
“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Next, He took a cup of wine and blessed it. He gave it to the men with these words:
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
It was confusing to have things one had always understood radically redefined. The next words of Jesus added to their sudden discomfort:
“But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.”
Forgetting the significance of the cup and the bread and the New Covenant, eleven of the twelve wondered if Jesus meant one of them. The twelfth man knew.
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.
from the Book of Common Prayer Rite II (Adapted by SRP)
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to symbolize for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. AMEN.
Words and Music: Barry McGuire
1. Take this bread I give to you And as you do remember Me
This bread is My body broken just for you Take it, eat it.
Each time you do, Remember Me remember Me.
2. Take this cup I fill for you And as you do remember Me
This cup is the new covenant I’m makin’ with you Take it, drink it.
Each time you do, Remember Me remember Me.
Take this love I’ve given you And as you do
Remember Me. Remember Me. Remember Me.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved