Read: Mark 14:12-21
One of the scenes portrayed frequently: Jesus and His disciples in the upper room to celebrate the Passover. This time, it’s quite different: the bread and wine were used to represent His body and blood. Our familiar “Lord’s Supper” begins not by eating the Seder meal, a tradition created after the time of Jesus (see *Note below), but by completely changing the Passover meal.
We’ll cover the Lord’s Supper tomorrow. For now, let’s look at the preparations and the way Jesus, once again, changes the events of the evening.
Jesus has been telling His disciples all along that this week would come. I’m sure they didn’t think He meant “this” week, only 3 years into His earthly ministry, yet here we are. This is the week.
We begin by finding the place to meet:
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” Mark 14:13-15
Did Jesus make arrangements separately without telling His disciples? Or was He foretelling the future to set the events in motion? We could get easily get caught in the cycle of trying to interpret the scene, rather than just allowing John Mark to tell us his view of the preamble to the new celebration.
By this time, I’m confident, the disciples were well known; Jesus, the Teacher, was well known and I’m sure He was welcomed as a celebrity in many circles. Check me on this, but I have no doubt there were many Jesus-fans at that time.
The disciples found the man and the room and began making preparations for the Passover–not knowing how Jesus was about to transform the meal, unaware of these troubling remarks:
When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” Mark 14:17-18
Full stop. Up to this point, the even was probably filled with joy, after all, this was the celebration of the Passover, a fantastic time to remember the miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians. Out of nowhere, Jesus is now talking about betrayal. Worse than that, it’s one of the Twelve.
Sadness replaced joy. Each one examined himself and asked Jesus, “Surely you don’t mean me?” Dear Lord, not me?
Jesus doesn’t answer them directly. Instead, each one is left to stew in introspective reflection. They won’t have to wait too long to find out, but these moments must have felt like hours.
As I type this post, we’re a week away from Christmas. Another year of great anticipation for the one holiday we all agree upon as The holiday. For the disciples, Passover is their Christmas celebration. Each year, this feast is remembered as they mark another time of faithfulness, perhaps looking back over the previous months and wondering how well they did in keeping God’s commandments. To stretch this thought: whether they’ve been naughty or nice!
It’s been a pretty good year for the disciples, incredible events, miracles, healing, feeding, on and on. Why would Jesus put such a damper on the festive atmosphere? They simply had no idea of what was about to happen.
As for the one who would betray Jesus:
The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Mark 14:21
The great good news is that Jesus completed His mission. We don’t have to walk around with a guilty t-shirt. In fact, we get to walk around with a forgiven sign.
Lord, as we enter the week before celebrating your birth, help us to remember all the details, the tragedy, the missteps, the troubles, but mostly, helps us to think about the celebration, the victory, the good news for all mankind.