Jesus and the Twelve enjoyed many meals together, but none like this one.
It was the time of the Passover feast, a time the enemies of Jesus sought to avoid. The Twelve asked Jesus what His plans were for the traditional Passover meal. As He did with the donkeys, He told them to go talk to “a certain man” who would allow them to use a room in his control. It happened just that way and the meal was prepared and presented there. The context for the whole evening was this:
“My time is at hand.”
The laughter was limited at this supper; no one could break the somber mood of Jesus. He looked at all the familiar elements of the meal, bread and wine, candles and oil lamps, shadows and substance as if He were seeing them all for the last time. Finally He spoke what was on His mind.
“…one of you will betray Me.”
He had often spoken of arrest and its horrible aftermath but now He was involving one of them in the business. Each man protested his potential innocence but then wondered if he were capable of such a thing. Judas did not join them in protest until Jesus took some bread and dipped it in the sauce and offered it to Judas saying,
“He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.”
His private thoughts now laid bare to the others, Judas asked,
“Rabbi, is it I?”
Jesus answered Him:
“You have said it.”
The other men looked at Judas, his face pale for lack of blood and His eyes hollow in the trembling lamplight.
A New Covenant Meal
Jesus took the familiar elements of the Passover meal and redefined them for His followers. This was no longer about deliverance from Egypt only; it was about the deliverance of the whole world from sin. The bread represented His body, soon to be broken. The cup represented His blood, soon to be spilled. This was their last supper until a New Kingdom began, a new life stronger than death, and a new hope impervious to designs of hell. Hearts raced as the new wine of the Kingdom to come coursed through the men. In their weariness a new strength gathered in their minds as the Bread from Heaven nourished them.
To the Garden of Prayer
They sang and hymn (How I wish text of that song was included in the record!) and ascended the Mount of Olives toward their accustomed place of rest and prayer. In route, Jesus tried again to warn them of impending events; they would scatter like frightened sheep when their Shepherd was stricken. The men protested at this, Peter leading the way. His boast was answered by Jesus with a prophesy of repeated denials before sunrise.
“Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples.”
By this time, they were no longer, “The Twelve.” The night shadows provided Judas an escape from his companions and their uncertain fate. Remembering the words of Jesus that His time had come, Judas stole through the streets of Jerusalem toward the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest.
Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”‘” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but 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.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, 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.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
Lord Jesus, Your love for us is overwhelming. Sometimes there just are no words adequate to express how I feel so You give me the tongues of angels and the miracle of music. Far beyond my ability to conceive is Your care for me, Your personal attendance to the details of my day. Help me live at Your Table, O Lord. I want to follow You as Peter and the disciples did, through the marketplaces of my world, in the Temple of Worship, and into the Garden of Prayer. Help me be faithful in all these arenas as Your life and substance flow through me. Amen.
This Is My Body (In Love for Me)
Words and Music: Jimmy and Carol Owens
1. This is My body, broken for you,
Bringing you wholeness, Making You free.
Take it and eat it, and when you do,
Do it in love for Me.
2. This is my blood, poured out for you.
Bringing forgiveness, Making You free.
Take it and drink it, and when you do,
Do it in love for me.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved