The Last Supper
Jesus had now finished teaching His disciples and His ministry was at an end. He told them that He was about to be betrayed and that He would die but they did not understand the significance of this.
The feast of unleavened bread was about to begin and the disciples asked Jesus where He wanted them to prepare the Passover meal. Jesus had planned for this to be a special meal with His friends, knowing that it was to be the last one, and had arranged a secret location.
It was an eventful meal. A discussion broke out amongst the twelve as to who should be greatest in the Kingdom. In response, Jesus took a bowl of water and wrapped a towel round His waist and began to go from one to the other washing their feet. The disciples were stunned.
“If you want to be great you must be prepared to serve,” Jesus explained.
“I can’t let you wash my feet,” protested Peter, trying to stop Him doing his.
“If you don’t let Me serve you, you cannot be part of Me,” Jesus replied. At once Peter consented.
“Not just my feet but my head also, Lord!” he exclaimed. And when Jesus sat back at the table and warned them all that one of them would betray Him, he was absolutely adamant that it wouldn’t be him.
“Before cock crow tomorrow morning you will have denied that you knew Me three times,” Jesus told him.
But all the other disciples were wondering exactly who it was who would betray Him.
“Is it I? Is it ?” they asked. Judas joined in as well.
John was sitting next to Jesus, as the known favourite. They urged him to ask Jesus for the identity of the traitor.
“I’m going to dip a bit of bread and hand it to him,” said Jesus quietly. He gave it to Judas. Then, looking him in the eyes, He said to him, “Go and do it now.”
Judas went out and they all thought that Jesus had told him to go and pay some bill or other as he was the treasurer.
Remaining at the table, as they shared the bread and passed the wine cup round, Jesus instigated the ceremony by which they, and all others, were to remember Him by.
“This bread is My body which is broken for you,” he said, sharing it round. “All of you have some. And this wine is the blood of the new covenant. Each of you is to drink of it. The new covenant, made in My blood is that you should love one another as I have loved you.”
They lingered over the meal, listening as Jesus talked. Finally, they all sang a hymn together before leaving, following Jesus out into the night, to the Mount of Olives where He wished to pray.
Garden of Gethsemane
On the Mount was a garden called Gethsemane. Jesus led His disciples there, gradually growing more sorrowful as the hour approached for the ordeal ahead.
He tried to explain. “All of you will leave me tonight. The shepherd will be struck down and the sheep will scatter, just as Zechariah foretold. But, after I have risen, I will go down to Galilee and meet you there.”
“I won’t scatter! I won’t leave you whatever happens!” declared Peter forcefully.
Jesus looked at him sadly. “Before the cock crows twice tomorrow morning, you will actually have denied you know Me three times.”
“Never!” said Peter, and so did all the others.
They went on and soon Jesus told them to wait whilst He Himself went on, taking only Peter, James and John with Him.
“I am very sad. Wait here for Me,” He said to the three. They settled down to watch and wait as Jesus went on a bit further, about as far as a stone’s throw. He prayed to His Father.
“If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But not my will but Thine be done.”
Three times He prayed in the same terms and three times He returned to His chosen three companions to find them fallen asleep and had to wake them. An angel came to Him in the Garden as He prayed, strengthening Him, but the fervour of His prayer was so great that sweat fell from Him like great drops of blood.
The third time He returned to the three, the watching and waiting was over.
“Sleep on,” He said. “My prayers on this are complete.” Then His ears picked up a commotion coming through the peaceful garden. “Rise! Let us be going! My betrayer is here!”
A band of soldiers, Temple Guards, and others with torches and staves had entered the Garden and now came towards them. They were led by Judas. The disciples ran to hide but Jesus stood His ground and spoke gently to the armed crowd.
“Who are you looking for?” He asked.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered.
“I am He,” Jesus replied calmly and they all backed away and fell over. This happened twice, by which time the disciples had crept back, heartened by this evidence of power. But Jesus had already decided that now was the time for Him to give Himself up and the mob was allowed to approach.
“Why are you here, friend?” He asked as He spotted Judas at the front..
“Hail, Master,” he greeted Him, kissing Him as part of the greeting.
“Do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Jesus asked, but the mob was surrounding them by this time. Peter drew his sword and attacked. Malchus, the servant of the high priest happened to be in the way and Peter sliced his ear off.
“No need for violence,” said Jesus and He stretched out His hand and healed the wound.
All the disciples scattered at this point and they all managed to escape into the dark Garden
But Jesus was the one they wanted. He allowed Himself to be bound securely and led away.
Image: The Last Supper.