Just as He Said
This Thursday night, referenced in our Gospel as the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, marked the beginning of a new Passover meal. Some things would be strange and forever changed.
On this day a few things seem to be known and others will come to be known. The disciples asked where they were going to eat the Passover, needing to know since they seemed to know they had to go and prepare it, though that was not their normal role for Passover. Jesus tells them that a man will meet them, not that they will meet him. This man will be carrying a water jar, the normal task for a woman. This man has humbled himself to serve in a way not normal for his gender. The disciples don’t need to say anything to the man, just follow him to the house. It is there that they will ask for the master of the house who is not surprised by the request from “The Teacher for My guest room.” Jesus knows how this will happen in advance and the master of the house knew to have the room ready for Jesus.
Did you notice that when it was evening Jesus came with the twelve? This would seem to indicate that there were more than twelve disciples in the room as the two that went ahead to prepare and may be more were present on that night. That would actually add a little clarity to the whole issue of who was to betray Jesus. After the disciples asked, “Is it I?” Jesus answers by saying that it is one who dips bread into the dish with me. This makes more sense it there are more tables at which people are sitting. Jesus only narrowed the field of possible betrayers to those who were sitting at his table sharing bowl that was dipped into. The ones sitting at other tables were excluded from the list. This might explain why they disciples didn’t instantly take action against Judas; he wasn’t actually singled out at the meal. That would also explain why the disciples didn’t know what Judas was going to do when Jesus sent him out, as recorded elsewhere in the Gospels.
Other strange things happen with this Passover, starting with the break from the normal practice of the meal being observed with family, as this was just a group of people. This fits in the context of Jesus’ ministry and even with one of his responses about family. Once when Jesus was confronted with the word that his mother and brothers were coming, concerned about him, Jesus questioned who his mother and brothers and sisters were. Jesus was setting up the understanding that the family of God is those who believe in Jesus not those who would claim a genetic connection.
So the disciples eat together but it should be noted that there is never mention of a lamb being there to eat. Passover over was done in remembrance of the first Passover but now Jesus would say that this was being done in remembrance of him. The blood of the lamb which was always thought of as a sacrificial offering which turned away the wrath of God when it was painted on the doorposts now becomes the blood of Jesus which turns away the judgment wrath of God.
Another strange thing is that one cup is shared when at Passover everyone normally had their own cup of wine, which usually was mixed one part wine with three parts water. There is no mention of Jesus diluting the wine but more significantly Jesus does not drink from it as this is now his blood poured out for their sins. Drinking from the cup in faith brings life to the believer but Jesus must suffer death and not be spared as we are. This would be why he says he will not drink of this fruit until he is back in the kingdom of God.
The final thing for tonight, but perhaps not the last thing that could be drawn from these verses is that Passover had become a drawn out, weeklong observance with added foods and dialog that weren’t part of the first Passover and it was all done in a rather casual way. Jesus was bringing the Passover back into succinct practice done in one brief meal. There was one purpose; to prepare the people to be ready to pass God’s judgment and enter into eternal life. The blood of Christ had to be shed for us to live which is no casual thing. We also clothe ourselves in his righteousness through faith so that we are ready to go at any time. And so we stand ready, having taken Christ’s body and blood in remembrance that he is why we pass over from death to life eternal. Amen.