Dinner with Jesus at Eas+er time. 2018. Luke 22.14-23
At sundown of that same day in Jerusalem, thirteen men meet to celebrate the Passover in a great gray hall, in an upper room in a house on Mt. Zion. In the tall-roofed chamber, the only furnishings are rattan divans and a long oaken table, on which tall candles burn. The flickering flames play upon the sturdy figures of the disciples and flash their distorted shadows against the un-windowed walls. Can you see it?
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On that afternoon their sacrificial lamb had been properly and ritually killed in the forecourt of the Temple sanctuary. Soon now, the roasted Pesach will be eaten when the day of the Passover is legally come, as it has been for a thousand years.
In spite of the warnings Jesus has given the Twelve, none believe that this will be their last meal together, evidenced by the fact that they argue once again about who would be the greatest among them in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus models servanthood as he washes all of the disciples' feet before they begin their meal; Paul aptly describes, "he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant."1
The men are still too earthbound and too worldly to grasp the great historical realities of the drama in which they are actors, playing as a group, a major role. No doubt, some in the room have noticed that a strange mood has fallen on the treasurer and keeper of the bag. Tonight the son of Simon Iscariot seems afflicted with melancholy; pale, glassy-eyed--it is as if Judas is looking upon some dire vision, visible only to him.
Jesus sits at the table, surrounded by the twelve familiar faces he loves, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." Jesus emphatically says," For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
And then, after a long silence, he lifts his voice in one of the familiar psalms of David. The first of four cups of wine is blessed and passed: "Blessed be Thou, O Lord, our God, Thou King of the world Who has created the fruit of the vine!" And the Kiddush, Cup of Blessing, is drunk. Each has his portion, then, of the bitter herbs, endive and lettuce, dipped in a compote of almonds, nuts, and figs (reminiscent of the bricks their ancestors had to make without straw). With this bitter dish they eat the bread of misery, the Matzah reminding them of the hasty flight out of Egypt (when there was no time for the bread to rise as they escaped Pharaoh's men). The Cup of Judgment recalls this bitter time for the Hebrews. Then they eat the lamb, and drink a third cup, which, as good and religious Jews, they all know to be the Cup of Redemption. Note: He who will be their redemption passes them the cup this night.
And then--Jesus stops and looks around, tells them that one of them is about to betray him. And while the men look from person to person, trying to decide who could do such a thing, the guilty one has a chance to reconsider the deal he has struck to apprehend the Lord. "He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped," Jesus answers.
And then the Master dips a morsel of bread in the dish of lamb and gravy and then very quietly holds it out toward Judas. The voice of the treasurer trembles as he gasps: "Is it I, Master?" "You have said it," answers Jesus. Even now he cannot keep the pity from his eyes. "That which you do, do quickly." Judas eats the morsel, and runs from the room, the door slamming loudly behind him. Silence hangs in the room for a while.
Jesus then takes the bread and breaks it, passing a piece to each of the eleven, as he says, "Take you and eat. This is my body." They eat together. Then, he takes the chalice and fills it with wine, like has been done since the early days. Only, once Jesus has given thanks, and passes the chalice of wine, he says, "Drink you all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins. Do this for a commemoration of me." This is the Cup of Praise, and alas, the Lord's Supper is born.2
Such a night is this--and really, the disciples' understanding is so limited. Our Lord shows himself to be the fulfillment of the symbolism of the Passover meal--the ultimate Pesach, Sacrificial Lamb, slain once for all.
It is always good to look back and remember that God is good. Somehow realizing how he became the sacrificial lamb for us-our Passover Lamb--reminds me of just how very good he is indeed!
Someday, I will have dinner with Jesus. You?
Sources --The Greatest Story Ever Told, 1952, Doubleday (found this treasure in an old bookstore) "Messianic Passover Haggadah" Chosen People Ministries
"Passover Haggadah" Rabbi Bernard Levy.
1- Philippians 2.7
2 - The four cups come out of Exodus 6.6,7