The Last Supper
12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?"
13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: "As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?' 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal." 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the twelve disciples. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me."
19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, "Am I the one?"
20 He replied, "It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!"
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take it, for this is my body."
23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, "This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God."
26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial
7 On the way, Jesus told them, "All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.'
28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there."
29 Peter said to him, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will."
30 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, Peter - this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me."
31 "No!" Peter declared emphatically. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!" And all the others vowed the same.
Jesus sends two of his disciples into Jerusalem to make preparations for the Passover meal. During the celebration, Jesus announces that one of the disciples will betray him. He then offers them bread and wine as symbols of his body and blood which are the means to a new covenant. They conclude the celebration with a hymn and then head out to the Mount of Olives. Along the way, Jesus informs the disciples that they will all desert him. This news is greeted with vehement denial by both Peter and the others.
The Passover meal (Mark 14:12)
"The Passover lamb was roasted and eaten after sunset in a family group of at least ten people."1565 The meal was comprised of several elements, each designed to serve as a tangible reminder:
There was the lamb, to remind them of how their houses had been protected by the badge of blood when the angel of death passed through Egypt.
There was the unleavened bread to remind them of the bread they had eaten in haste when they escaped from slavery.
There was a bowl of salt water, to remind them of the tears they had shed in Egypt and of the waters of the Red Sea through which they had miraculously passed to safety.
There was a collection of bitter herbs - horse radish, chicory, endive, lettuce, horehound - to remind them of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
There was a paste called Charosheth, a mixture of apples, dates, pomegranates and nuts, to remind them of the clay of which they had made bricks in Egypt. Through it there were sticks of cinnamon to remind them of the straw with which the bricks had been made.
There were four cups of wine. The cups contained a little more than half a pint of wine, but three parts of wine were mixed with two of water. The four cups, which were drunk at different stages of the meal, were to remind them of the four promises in Exodus 6:6, 7.1566
We might also wish to note the practice of hymn singing (see Mark 14:26): "The Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113-118) were sung during the meal. Psalms 113 and 114 were sung just before the second cup and Psalms 115-118 were sung at the end of the meal, after the fourth, or hallel cup."
As one source notes: "As the Passover brought an enslaved people into a new life of liberty and rest, so Christ anticipated that through His death believers would be brought into a new life of peace and rest. . . . Christ's death was not an end in itself but the means of providing eternal blessing for those who would trust Him as Savior."1567
Two of them ... as Jesus said (Mark 14:13, 16)
As one source explains, Jesus' instructions "may reflect another instance of Jesus' supernatural knowledge. However, the need for security (cf. Mark 14:10-11), the disciples' question (Mark 14:12), and Jesus' subsequent directives seem to indicate that He had carefully reserved a place in advance where they could eat the Passover meal together undisturbed."1568 According to tradition, the man (a servant) whom the disciples met led them to the home of John Mark's father, and it was there that Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal.1569 If this be so, the need to keep Judas in the dark (lest he upset Jesus' Passover plans) would explain why Jesus did not name the place outright.1570 It is also worth noting that "a man carrying a pitcher of water" would have been an unmistakable sign, since "ordinarily not a man but a woman or girl would be doing this"1571 (men normally carried wine-/animal skins).1572
One Bible commentator notes how the incident involving preparation for the Passover highlights the trust relationship between Jesus and every true disciple:
The disciples found everything as Jesus had told them. These faithful men could not know what each day would bring, but they were learning that each step was guided by God's sovereign will. And they were coming to understand the partnership of their calling: They go, God provides; they work, God blesses. The Passover meal did not miraculously appear; someone had to prepare it! The disciples were discovering that this kind of personal, daily walk with God had some very exciting dimensions to it. No job could be too difficult; no place too far.
Disciples today have the same Lord. We must trust God with the future, realizing that whatever it is, he will be with us. For our part, we must be flexible, responsive, and ready to follow.1573
Betray me (Mark 14:17)
Jesus' point regarding his betrayer sharing his bowl was "not to identify the specific individual per se, but to indicate that it is one who was close to him - somebody whom no one would suspect. His comment serves to heighten the treachery of Judas' betrayal."1574 Not surprisingly, the disciples were aghast at the thought that someone from among their own intimate group would betray Jesus. "In the Middle East eating together established a symbolic bond of mutual trust and commitment,"1575 and of course this was anything but an ordinary meal: We should not "fail to note that this was the Passover of Jesus, that the Twelve were here at his invitation, not he at theirs, that this was Jesus' bowl, and to be allowed to dip into it with Jesus supreme honor indeed."1576 Jesus deliberately concealed Judas's identify from the rest of the group, however, apparently in an effort to give Judas every opportunity to repent.1577
My body ... my blood (Mark 14:22, 24)
"[B]y historically linking Passover and Lord's Supper so closely together Jesus also made clear that what was essential in the first was not lost in the second. Both point to him, the only and all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of his people. Passover pointed forward to this; the Lord's Supper points back to it."1578 By definition, the "covenant" of which Jesus spoke is "an arrangement established by one party that cannot be altered by the other party. In other words, God established the covenant, and humans can only accept or reject it; they cannot alter it in any way."1579 Jesus' sacrificial death "established the forgiveness promised in the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31. Jesus is reinterpreting the symbolism of the Passover meal, indicating the presence of a new era."1580
As one Bible commentator explains:
Jesus told the disciples to "Take, eat; this is My body." Jesus used literal terms to describe a figurative truth. Just as he had so many times said, "I am" the door, the bread, the light, the vine, so the bread symbolized Jesus' work of salvation on behalf of humanity. His words "this is my body" symbolize the spiritual nourishment believers obtain from a personal relationship with the Savior. The phrase would more clearly be translated, "This is my self." It was Jesus' pledge of his personal presence with all his disciples whenever they would partake of this meal.
Each name believers today use for this sacrament brings out a different dimension to it. It is the "Lord's Supper" because it commemorates the Passover meal that Jesus ate with his disciples; it is the "Eucharist" (thanksgiving) because in it we thank God for Christ's work for us; it is "Communion" because through it we commune with God and with other believers. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, we should be quietly reflective as we recall Jesus' death and his promise to come again, grateful for God's wonderful gift to us, and joyful as we meet with Christ and the body of believers.1581
One source notes how Jesus' declaration, "'This is my blood of the covenant'" (Mark 14:24, NASB), recalls and alludes to Exodus 24:8 and Zechariah 9:11.1582
So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." (Exodus 24:8, NASB)
As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free ... (Zechariah 9:11, NASB)
"The pouring out of his blood takes on sacrificial and atoning connotations, which Jesus has linked to the covenant of the kingdom."1583 (While it may be legitimate to think "death" when we see "blood" in the Bible, in the case of Jesus we should always think "sacrificial death."1584) Thus Jesus indicated that his body and blood were the means through which God would firmly establish a new covenant which "promises forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God through the indwelling Spirit to those who come to God by faith in Jesus."1585 The central elements of the new covenant are God's love for us and our response of obedience.1586 The idea of the new covenant is further developed in the remainder of the NT, with the epistle to the Hebrews presenting the most systematic treatment. This covenant is tied to the prophecy delivered by Jeremiah some 600 years before Christ:
"The day will come," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife," says the Lord. "But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day," says the Lord. "I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
As one source explains: "The New Covenant is God's new arrangement in dealing with people, based on Christ's death (cf. Hebrews 8:6-13). The spiritual blessings Israel expected God to grant in the last days are now mediated through Christ's death to all who believe. The physical blessings promised to Israel, however, are not being fulfilled now. They will be fulfilled when Christ returns and establishes His millennial reign with Israel in her land."1587
We should also remember the significance of Communion for contemporary Christians:
That [the first disciples] all drank from the cup reflects our common experience at Communion. We experience the presence of Christ; we remember his life and death for us; we acknowledge again his lordship in our life.
Communion humbles us before God. We all come; we all eat and drink together. We confess our sin and restate our need for him to lead our lives. This ritual gets rid of our pride.
Communion reminds us that we are forgiven. It reaffirms for us that sins confessed are sins forgiven because of Christ's death. Communion cleanses our guilt.
Communion expresses our oneness in Christ. We participate as a body of believers in one communion; thus, we are unified in our faith and in our experience of Christ.
Communion encourages us to recommit. As we recall the sacrifice of Christ, we are reminded to pledge ourselves to service like his.1588
All of you will desert me (Mark 14:27)
Jesus said that his disciples would become deserters. "Now when a shepherd is struck down, the sheep scatter in every direction, for they have lost their rallying point. So also when Jesus is captured and subsequently crucified, his followers will panic and flee."1589 "The verb translated 'fall away' (skandalisthesesthe ['desert me' NLT]) means to take offense at someone or something and thereby turn away and fall into sin. Jesus predicted that all 11 disciples would take offense at His sufferings and death. To avoid the same treatment they would 'fall away,' denying association with Him and desert Him. Their loyalty would temporarily collapse."1590 Hence Jesus would be forced to face "His final hour of testing alone with His Father, without human sympathy or support."1591As terrible as was the thought that one of their own would deliberately turn against Jesus, it was even more unbearable to imagine that the entire group would desert him in his hour of greatest need. And so, as usual, Peter spoke up, vowing that even if everyone else denied Jesus, he would still be faithful. Peter refused to believe that he was capable of denying Jesus even once, let alone three times. Peter said he would die before that happened. "And all the others vowed the same."
After I am raised ... Galilee (Mark 14:28)
Notice the silver lining, as it were, in an otherwise dark and foreboding message. "Christ's prediction has an optimistic climax ... In clear and unfigurative [sic.] language Jesus speaks about being raised from the dead, just as he had spoken previously (Mark 8:31; 9:9, 9:31; 10:34). This is also another revelation of his love, for here Jesus assures them that he is going to meet them in the very region, Galilee, where their homes were, and where the Lord had originally called them to himself" (see Mark 16:7).1592 As another source puts it: "Jesus promised that he would go ahead of [his disciples] into Galilee and meet them all there. Galilee is important in Mark's Gospel as the place of restoration. That is where their relationship would be renewed, their failures forgiven, and their pattern of ignorance and rejection broken."1593
The Greek word for "betray" (paradidomi) means "to give into the hands of another; to give over into one's power or use."1594 It is the opposite of receiving or welcoming,1595 and can involve either handing over a guilty person for punishment by the proper authorities or, as in the case of Christ, handing over "an individual to an enemy who will presumably take undue advantage of the victim."1596
Judas deliberately betrayed Jesus, and all of Jesus' other disciples gave him over into the hands of his enemies. Choosing fear over faith, they ran away from their Lord and Master. However, as only he can, God brought good out of even the disciples' betrayal. Their experience made them more useful to, and usable by, God. For the rest of their lives, their failure to remain faithful would remind them of their need to rely on God rather than self. Their failure was also a crucial part of Shepherding 101: it would help them to better understand, relate to, and gently guide fellow believers who had sinned and fallen short of God's will.1597
Today we no less than the first disciples need to be on guard against betraying Jesus, particularly through practical denial. "[P]rofessing commitment to Christ and then denying him with one's life is also betraying him. It is denying Christ's love to disobey him; it is denying his truth to distrust him; it is denying his deity to reject his authority."1598 If our words and actions do not match, we need to pray for and work for a change of mind and heart that embraces God's revealed truth.1599
??? How will remembering God's loyalty to us in the past better prepare us to be loyal to him both today and tomorrow?