Lesson 106: During the Passover Meal
Matt 26:21-29, Mark 14:18-25, Luke 22:14-23, John 13:1, 21-30
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 106. Our last lesson ended with Jesus and the twelve ascending the stairs to the upper room and sitting down to the passover meal. Luke emphasized that there was strife among the twelve. Competition in other words. And the point that the writer wants us to see is that these men were human and still even at this late hour did not understand the nature of the kingdom that had been preached by Jesus in their presence for many months and had even been preached by them as they went from village to village, two by two. In Matt. 10:7, Jesus had told them to preach, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." In Luke 10:9, Jesus had told them and the seventy disciples to preach, "The kingdom of God, is come nigh unto you." And they understood that the kingdom should shortly begin. It almost blows your mind to realize that on that Thursday night as they assembled in the upper room in Jerusalem; that they were still so vague and so non-spiritual in their understanding. But, as I have emphasized before; we have a great advantage over those men in that we see these things in retrospect. Our understanding of those things future to us is just a hazy as those things were to the apostles.
now, get your imagination and your insight working. Try to visualize these men, their clothing, their actions, their ascending the stairs and being seated to eat the passover. John in his account uses one verse to set the stage and in the second verse he jumps to after the meal has ended. Let's read that one verse. John 13:1, have you got it? Let's read John 13:1. "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Alright, in spite of the strife and the human nature of these men; Jesus loved all twelve men. Jesus tried to encourage, strengthen, and motivate them to the last minute. As a fair estimate, they must have been in the upper room something like three hours. About three main things happened during the meal. (#1) Jesus made some introductory remarks. (#2) Jesus told them, or foretold them, that he was being betrayed by one of them; which made the whole group very sad. (#3) During the meal, or more likely, as they were finishing the meal; Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. Not all of our writers put these things in exactly the same order; so, I would infer they were sort of interspersed into the evening, during the meal and as the meal drew to conclusion. You know, maybe some had finished, some were still nibbling along and a little conversation tucked in between. Let's read Luke. The reference is Luke 22:14-23. Please turn to that! Are you ready? Luke ch. 22, beginning in v.14. Let's read. "And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing." O.K., in his introductory remarks (v.15-16), Jesus told them that he had desired to eat this passover meal with them before he suffered. That implied that his suffering was going to be immediate. Then, he said this would be his last meal, "I will not any more eat..." (v. 16), i.e. until it be fulfilled in the kingdom. That of course, has reference to the Lord's Supper in the worship of the church and which Jesus immediately thereafter instituted (v.17-20). Then Jesus called their attention to the fact that the hand that was going to betray him was on the table with him at that moment (v.21). Even here, Jesus gave a warning concerning the one who would do such thing. But, that warning was to no avail. The rest of the twelve were puzzled at this and began to look at each other and inquire who it should be (v.23). Now, we'll touch on these things a little more in a moment or two; but let's read some more first. Let's read Mark's account first! Mark 14:18-25. Please get your eyes on that scripture. Mark 14:18 beginning. Let's read! "And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Let's go-quickly to Matthew's account. The reference is Matt. 26:21-29. Turn there and we'll read. Matt. ch. 26, beginning in v.21. Are you ready? "And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood, of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink hence forth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drank it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
Alright, you might note that John the apostle did not mention in his record the institution of the Lord's Supper. This is pretty good evidence to me that John wrote his book after the other three and that John may have been aware of the others before he wrote. John does in his 13th chapter tell us about Jesus foretelling that Judas would betray him. We'll get to that a little later; but, right now let's go back and review those verses that have to do with the Lord's supper. Wine or grape juice was used in some form in the passover supper. It was just naturally there on the table. There have been great distinctions and great bug-a-boo made about whether the grape juice was fermented or unfermented. Whether it was wine or just plain raw grape juice. Much has been written on the subject; so, I'll let you read the arguments there. The word "wine" is not used here. So, obviously it was as close to fresh grape juice as they could obtain at the time. The passover was in the spring of the year and grapes don't get ripe until late summer. Thus, what they drunk in the upper room that night had been stored in some way or another for several months; probably in wine skins as we talked about back in Matt. 9:17, when the disciples of John came to Jesus about fasting.
The bread was unleavened bread that was customarily served with the passover meal. Something pretty close to what we would call a plain wheat biscuit with no salt, not grease and no leaven added. •Thus, Jesus took two ingredients, or two foods, of the passover feast and used them to institute or establish the Lord's Supper. Jesus first took bread, i.e. unleavened bread from the table and blessed it (Matt. 26:26), i.e. gave thanks or prayed to the heavenly Father. Jesus gave some of that bread to each of the apostles and told them to eat it. Jesus explained that "this is my body." In other words it represented His body. Our Catholic friends teach a doctrine called "transubstantiation", i.e. that the bread, when eaten, actually turns to the literal flesh of Jesus. They get that doctrine, supposedly from this statement where Jesus said, "This is my body." But, that's not what Jesus meant. Spiritually, figurative, or mentally it was to represent Jesus' body. If our Catholic friends were to pump their stomach after eating it; I think they might be amazed to discover it is still bread and not human flesh. In a similar way, Jesus took the cup, i.e. the contents of the cup which was grape juice and gave some to all of the apostles. Then he prayed again.- Matt. 26:27. He said, "Drink ye all of it." In other words, he was telling all apostles to all drink of it. I remember reading that passage years ago and thinking that Jesus told them to drink every drop in the cup. I wondered if the cup was the size of a barrel if one must drink it all. Somewhere along the line, someone pointed out that the "all" in that statement modifies the "YE", i.e. ALL YE disciples. It doesn't modify the cup. So, there's no restrictions on quantity, you see. Jesus left a few things within our discretion. -But, we cannot substitute where he specified what to use and what to do. Jesus said the grape juice represented His blood of the new testament. Now, look at that again! What is the new testament? That statement is not used in the sense we use the word today to describe a compilation of 27 books, called the New Testament. The idea in Matt. 26:28 is the new covenant, i.e. the new agreement God has made with man; very similar to the agreement God made with the Israelites on. Mt. Sinai, call the old testament, or the old covenant, or the old law. In other words, Jesus was talking about the new age, the Christian age, if you will. Of course, that book we call the New Testament is simply God's statement of his agreement with man in cur age. So, the thought blends in that respect. Why did Jesus shed his blood? "For the remission of sins." (Matt. 26:28). Remission of sins means very simply, the forgiveness of sins. The Hebrew writer said in ch. 9:22, "without shedding of blood is no remission." Thus, it is through the blood of Christ, shed for us, that we can have our sins remitted or forgiven. And, every time we partake of the Lord's Supper we are to understand that it is through the shedding of His blood that we can have remission of sins. We learn later, for example in I Cor. ch. 11 and Acts ch. 20, that the disciples in the early church kept this memorial feast every first day of the week, i.e. Sunday. Thus, we learn this was instituted as an item of worship; something to be done in a recurring and specified way. We have already said, the passover feast of AD 33 was the LAST scriptural and official passover feast. The new testament or the new covenant came into force within the a few weeks after Jesus's death. The old testament, or the old covenant was our school master to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). However, the next verse (v.25) says, "But after that faith is come, we are NO LONGER under the schoolmaster." Do you remember John's prologue? In John 1:17, John said, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Now, as I said earlier, John did not tell us about the Lord's Supper as the other writers did. But, John did mention the things Jesus said about Judas. This is jumping ahead a little; but, let's read John 13:21-30 right here. Did you get that? Turn to John 13:21 beginning. We'll read v.21 down through v. 30. Are you ready? "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when Ihave dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto Him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then, having received the sop, went immediately out; and it was night." Alright, it interesting here to note that not only did Jesus point out the one that would betray him. Jesus knew it was Judas and Judas knew that Jesus knew. You see, Judas had been with Jesus long enough to know that Jesus knew what was in man (John 2:25). But, even though this communication existed in a roundabout way; Judas still carried through with His betrayal. John said it troubled Jesus in the spirit to talk about it (v.21). But, Jesus announced very plainly to the group that, one of them, was going to betray him to the council. Can't you just see that little dialogue in John 13:22-26? John here refers to himself as the "disciple, whom Jesus loved." John was sitting next to Jesus. And as has been said before, John was probably the youngest of the disciples. Peter, that impetuous disciple, who always spoke out quickly, was across the table or someplace else in the room. When Jesus said, that one of the apostles would betray Him; some began to ask "Is it I." But, Peter from across the room, motioned to John to ask, "Lord, who is it?" John then asked Jesus as Peter had prompted him to do. Jesus did not embarrassingly point His finger at Judas; yet, Jesus through the activity at the moment indicated Judas very clearly. Then Jesus looked at Judas and said, "That thou doest, do quickly." Judas, must have pushed His chair away from the table and went on His way, almost immediately. John said some of the apostles did not understand what Jesus said to Judas. They thought that Jesus asked Judas to go pay some bills or do something associated with His job as their treasurer. But, Luke indicates that Jesus made a -warning statement to Judas, "truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed." This statement should not be looked upon as an indication that Judas could not change. It should be looked upon as a warning; quite the opposite. It's a little hard to analyze Judas' thinking; but, apparently Judas took his purse and quietly left the room. As Judas left, the conversation continued for a time. We'll get into that in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.