Our Bible study on the last 24 hours of Christ started last week. Our study includes reading from the book and the devotional series (Thanks Brian for the devotional book!), Sunday’s sermon and Tuesday night Fuel: supper, video, and discussion. I hope to put some semblance of order to my notes here. I plan to write about each study to share and to help me organize my thoughts, which have been all over the place.
Week one: The Last Supper. I’ve been participating in communion since I was 15-16 years old and completed the confirmation in the church I grew up in. I’ve probably always known the basics and as I grew older and started enjoying The Ten Commandments I started to see the connection between Passover and the Last Supper. It has been interesting to spend the last week looking over some of the details that I probably have overlooked in the past.
Jesus and his disciples walked the 75 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem to participate in Passover. They probably didn’t have to go to Jerusalem to participate, but Jesus knew what he had to do and where he needed to be. Jesus spent Holy Week teaching in Jerusalem, pushing the Jewish leadership, probably building the tension between the leadership and himself, possibly even pushing the end result. I’m sure he also became further frustrated with the disciples and followers who after 3 years of following and learning from Jesus, they still didn’t understand.
John spent 5 chapters of his book on the Last Supper, going into great details about what Jesus said and prayed. He wrote it as a “pre-Passover” Seder. The Seder meal is one filled with ritual, stories and song. The meal can last 5 hours and is a time that Jews use to reflect on their time as slaves in Egypt and how God delivered them. I think it would be interesting to participate or host a Seder meal – participating would be much easier than hosting as there is much Hebrew in the meal. The Jewish story is part of the Christian story, something I think many of us forget. I think that by understanding where the Last Supper started, we can have a better understanding of what Communion/ Eucharist means to us today. It might also be easier for us to teach our children why this meal is so important. Our church allows all to participate in communion, which means if Maggie spends church time with us, she can participate in communion with us. To me, participating in communion is my way of being a part of the body of Christ. The Lord’s Table is for all of His children, not just those who are “worthy” by man’s standards.
Jesus chose to spend his last meal with his small group. His small group, his disciples, were very important to him. While there were most likely others at the Last Supper – women and children, perhaps other disciples, those at Jesus’ table were a part of his small group. I had never thought of how important this small group was to Jesus, and if HE needed a small group, how much more important is it that we have our small groups to support and strengthen us?
Judas was a main player in the Last Supper. He and John had the places of honor at the table. As the disciples argued about who would be given those places, why did Jesus choose Judas to sit at his left? What happened to Judas that changed him from a follower to a betrayer? Did Jesus know he would be the one when he selected him as one of his chosen 3 years earlier? Was Judas trying to force Jesus into the great warrior/political leader Judas may have wanted? Did Jesus tell Judas to betray him – was Judas chosen for the task? Was Judas just greedy? Are these questions we will ever have answered in our lifetimes?
The Seder meal always ends with a song and Jesus’ last supper was no exception. John tells us they sang Psalm 118. It begins and ends the same:
O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
Next week is the Garden of Gethsemane. I know the study is going to become more challenging as I did start to read the next chapter. It is difficult to understand, for me, why there wasn’t another way, and I don’t know if this study will bring me any closer to that understanding, but I do know it will probably raise more questions for me.