Well, today is the day the disciples and Jesus celebrated Passover. It also marks the first communion. If you follow Mark’s account (14:12-26) it seems Jesus and His disciples are celebrating an early Passover. Scholars tell us Jews would have observed Passover on Friday. Ben Witherington III suggests the idea of the disciples and Jesus sneaking into the city under the cloak of darkness to celebrate the Passover early. They would have to be somewhat quiet about things if they were doing this meal early. I was also thinking of all the commotion Jesus stirred up by entering Jerusalem and clearing the temple. The religious leaders are chomping at the bit to get at Him. So, if they are celebrating an early Passover they probably don’t want to draw a lot of attention to themselves.
It seems Jesus has set up a place, a “guest room,” (TNIV) to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. To me it seems obvious He has made some pre-arrangements for it (14:13-15). If they are trying to be sneaky about this whole thing, because they are doing it a day early, then the signal Jesus gives to the disciples; “A man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.” makes a bit more sense. This is going to be a very special meal. Passover is a meal about freedom. It was the last meal the Israelites ate before leaving Egypt. It meant God had acted on their behalf and was rescuing them from bondage in Egypt. Their God was showing that He alone is the only true God.
While eating Jesus predicts He’s going to be betrayed by one of the disciples (14:17). Jesus had spent 3 years of His life with Judas and I’m sure He was on to his crooked ways. What’s surprising is that none of the other disciples know its Judas. Their response in verse 19, “Surely not I?” indicates they are more worried about it being themselves than someone else. Judas fooled the disciples but not Jesus.
Somewhere towards the end of the meal, Jesus asks His disciples to eat bread that symbolizes His body and drink wine that symbolizes His blood which will be “poured out for many.” They then top off this new meal by singing a hymn.
Some questions I was thinking about with this passage:
- I wonder what the disciples were thinking as they listened to their teacher talk about what each of the elements meant?
- Did they really understand that Jesus was going to die and give up His life?
- Did they think He would die a heroic death by the sword?
- What were they thinking?
- What do you think they were thinking?