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Foundations of Our Faith 3: The Last Supper

Foundations of Our Faith Day 3: The Last Supper

I love to eat. It’s a problem, okay? It would be a rare occasion for me to sit down to a meal without being excited to dig in. Unless I’m served cooked turnips (which are poisonous). But there are rare occasions when I’m not excited, and it typically has nothing to do with the content of the meal; it has to do with life circumstances. If I’m overly anxious, nervous, or filled with dread about something, I’m not going to be all that hungry. 

So, then, here a couple of practical things to consider at the Last Supper. As Jesus reclined to eat with His disciples, fully aware of the horrific events that lay ahead, I wonder how He could eat anything. But, offsetting that, knowing this would be the last food He would eat until His death maybe 20 hours later, I wonder if He ate to provide much-needed energy. Regardless, it is astounding to read through the Gospels of all that took place during this meal. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke devote relatively short portions of their renderings of the Gospel to the teaching given during the meal, John devotes 5 entire chapters to it (John 13-17). He lays out the omniscient Deity of Jesus (chapter 13 with the foretold betrayal by Judas Iscariot and the denial by Peter). He also shows that, though He was the eternal God, Jesus was an earthly servant who washed His disciples’ feet. Later in the chapter, Jesus gives the new commandment to “love one another; just as I have loved you” (vs. 34). Jesus tells the disciples in chapter 14 that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (vs. 6) and tells them of the heavenly home He is preparing for them. He gives them the promise of the Holy Spirit who would come after He ascended back into heaven. In chapter 15, He tells them the truth of the vine and the branches—He being the vine, or the root of the gospel, and the disciples the branches, taking the gospel outward. Chapter 17 is the well-known high priestly prayer. Each of these chapters would take pages or books of writing to fully develop all of what these disciples were told during ONE SINGLE MEAL!

Oh, and that’s not even considering what was told in the other Gospels. During this last meal, Jesus presented the way for His people to consistently and regularly remember Him. He made it easy and accessible, using perhaps the two simplest items to obtain in the 1st century: bread and wine. In the months and years ahead, these disciples would have a visible reminder as they reminisced on these final hours with Jesus. When they would break bread together, they would surely picture the broken body of Jesus. They had seen enough crucifixions in their time, so even if they had not been there to see His actual body, they would know. The act of breaking the bread must have been quite emotional, as they recalled His words, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26). And, of course, the awful sight of His blood coming from the many deep wounds He suffered would spring to their minds as they drank the wine. It was a simple way to remember a timeless, life-changing event, and He made it easy for us to carry out His request weekly (not monthly or quarterly). It’s as if He is staring us in the eye and telling us, “Never forget Me. Never forget my sacrifice for you!”  

I find it incredible that while all this was going on Jesus knew exactly what was about to happen. Judas Iscariot had left to bring the crowd to arrest Him. But there was no rush to leave the room and hide away. Instead, He had told His friends, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). He was happy to spend these moments with His friends, sharing the Passover and expounding exceptional truths to them over the course of the evening. What a blessing for them—and what a blessing for us. We can be thankful that much of the discussion was preserved by the Gospel writers, especially John, for our reading today. As He awaited a violent, ruthless mob to take Him away, all the truth unfolded. It’s something we would expect from only Him.

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