THE LAST SUPPER
As we continue our study in Mark chapter 14, Jesus is going to have his men prepare the Passover meal. This will be the last meal that He will share with them until after His death and resurrection. And in this we are going to see Jesus continue to teach and try to instill lessons into His men, for they will be the ones to carry on the work after He is gone. Thus, these things will be important for them to hear and understand, and being the last words of a dying man, they are of course be the most important things He could say to them, He was not going to waste words or time, for in less than 24 hours He would be crucified on the cross of Calvary!
One other point before we dig into the text this evening. Mark gives to us less than one chapter regarding the events that surround the last supper, this last meal. On the other hand, John gives to us five chapters on this event, chapters 13-17, which cover the same time period that Mark is speaking of. So I will try to pick out some things that John is sharing with us that will fit into this time period that Mark is speaking of, the last supper!
1. At this point Jesus is staying at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, which was located in Bethany, about 2 miles from Jerusalem, over the Mount of Olives, and it would take around 40 minutes to travel back and forth from Jerusalem to Bethany. You see, Jerusalem was too dangerous for Jesus to be staying in, His time had not come yet for Him to be put to death for the sins of the world, but that day was fast approaching. As I have said, we are under 24 hours till the Cross of Calvary. Now keep in mind that the Passover meal had to be eaten in Jerusalem, if you were able to get there, and Jerusalem swelled to some 2.5 to 3 million people during this feast! And so Jesus will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, to have the Passover meal with His men, as we shall see.
2. Now the Passover lamb was brought to the temple, and you would sacrifice this animal as the priest collected the blood in a container, and offered some of the fat and parts of this animal as a sacrifice to the Lord. The rest of the animal would then be roasted by the family who was going to eat it. Also, the blood, as it dripped off the altar, flowed down into the Kidron Valley. It has been estimated that there were some 2.5 million people who came to Jerusalem for this feast. And one lamb was sacrificed for every 10 people, making some 225,000 lambs that were sacrificed for this feast. Thus, as Jesus was heading to the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, He would have to cross the Kidron Valley, through this blood. The Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus, was about to shed His own blood for the sins of the world!
3. Passover began on the 14th of Nisan, and thus, on the 13th of Nisan, which would be Wednesday that year, is when they would sacrifice these lambs. Now a new day began at sundown, so it would seem that Jesus was sacrificed on Thursday morning, which would be the 14th of Nisan. But the Passover meal was eaten at twilight, which on our calender would be Wednesday, but in the Jewish mind, and on their calender it would be Thursday, for the new day began at sundown or 6 PM.
1. In Luke 22:8 we are told that the two disciples who went to prepare the Passover meal were Peter and John. And when they got to Jerusalem, they needed to find a man carrying a pitcher of water. Now this was easier than you may think. You see, the men did not carry pitchers of water, the women did. So this would be very unusual. And when they find this man they were to say certain words to him, which would tell the man that these are the men who will prepare the Passover meal for Jesus. It seems to be prearranged with this man, that Jesus spoke to him ahead of time.
2. Now why all the secrecy? Keep in mind that the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. Remember in Mark 14:1 we are told "After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death." Also, Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him. So none of the disciples knew where the Passover meal was to take place, and then, only Peter and John knew as they went to Jerusalem and this man showed them the room they were to prepare and eat the Passover meal in. So Jesus did not want Judas to know ahead of time, for there was an exact time for the betrayal to take place.
3. Some feel that the home Jesus ate this Passover meal with His disciples was John Marks. But, at this point John Mark was only around 12 years old, so his father was the man that was carrying the water pitcher, the one whom the disciples were looking for. In Acts 12:12 we are told, "So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying." So the early church gathered at the house of John Mark after the death and resurrection of Jesus. And that might help explain what Mark tells us in Mark 14:51-52, "Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked." If Mark was only 12, he may have followed Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane, and when Jesus was arrested, he fled. No other gospel writer tells us of this event, so Mark could be speaking from personal experience, since he was the one who fled.
4. One last point before we move on. In Exodus 12:42 we are told, "It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations." You see, at the first Passover in Egypt the Jews were looking for God to rise up and bring them deliverance from their bondage in Egypt. And now the people were looking for God to rise up once again and bring salvation to them, to deliver them once again. The sad thing is they rejected the one who could and would bring salvation into their lives, Jesus Christ, as so many do today!
1. Preparing the Passover meal took some time. You couldnt go to IGA and order this meal, you had to prepare it. After the lamb was sacrificed, it then was roasted. Now the sacrifice of the lamb was pointing to Jesus. You see, as the blood of the lamb was placed on the doors of the homes of the Jewish people in Egypt, the angel of death passed over their homes, but if not, their was death in that house. (Exodus 12:8-20). Remember what John the baptist said as he saw Jesus, "...Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29.
2. They ate unleavened bread which spoke of their fleeing Egypt quickly, in haste, there was not time to let the bread rise. (Exodus 12:39). Leaven is a type of sin, so for us, as we apply the blood of the Lamb to our lives, we are seen as sinless! As Paul said in II Corinthians 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
3. The salt water represented the tears they shed in Egypt, but now the Lord has dried those tears and has given to us the joy of the Lord.
4. The bitter herbs represented the suffering they had to endure by the hands of Pharaoh. But we dont have to be weighed down by those things, for Peter tells us "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7.
5. They ate a mixture of dates, apples, pomegranates, mixed with wine, which reminded them of the hard bondage they had to endure that turned to sweetness as God delivered them. It is as Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
6. They had 4 cups of wine that they drank during this meal. The first cup was the cup of sanctification, then the cup of explanation, then the cup of blessing, and lastly the cup of joy. This is what Peter and John had to prepare for this meal that was to be eaten that evening.
1. Again, it was Wednesday evening, after 6 PM, and thus, it is Thursday, the 14th of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. Now prior to this meal, the disciples were arguing who would be the greatest, and Jesus girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of the disciples, a task set aside for the lowliest of servants. First, Jesus is showing them what it means to be a servant. Secondly, He was showing them that as they spend time in the world they will get dirty, and they will need to wash up by getting into the Word of God and allowing it to cleanse you and refresh you.
2. Most of us, when we picture the last supper, we see Jesus in the middle of this long table and the disciples sitting around Him. Wrong! They would sit on pillows, reclining on their left arm with their feet going out to the right, and they would eat with their right hand. The table was low to the ground and U-shaped. Going from right to left around the table you had the seat of honor to the lowliest seat. The seat of honor was given to Judas, then came Jesus, and then came John. Peter had the seat on the other end of the table. I guess the Pope didnt get a good seat! Also, it tells me that even though Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, He still reached out to him in love and gave him every opportunity to turn from his evil ways, just as He does with people today.
3. Jesus is quoting from Psalm 41:9, where David is speaking of his close friend, Ahithophel. You see, when the son of David, Absalom, tried to usurp the throne away from David, Ahithophel turned against David and sided with Absalom. And this broke Davids heart. And as Absalom refused to listen to the wise counsel of Ahithophel, Ahithophel saw this rebellion coming to an end, that David would win, so he went out and hung himself. And Jesus is saying there is one like Ahithophel in their group, one who will betray Jesus. And this must have sent shock waves throughout the group. A betrayer among them?
4. Can someone look like a Christian, do Christian things and not be saved, not be a Christian? You bet! Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" Then what is a Christian? Jesus continues on and says "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:24-27. It is not only hearing the words of Jesus, but doing them. Judas was a tare among the wheat and the rest of the disciples didnt even know it!
1. The disciples began to ask Jesus, literally, "It is not I, is it?" and they were expecting a negative answer from Jesus, but they were concerned that it might be one of them. The words of Jesus did trouble them. Why? Because they knew their weakness. They knew their flaws, their shortcomings. And thus, they could not exclude themselves from this accusation, but they were hoping that Jesus would!
2. On the other hand, no one thought it was Judas. Why? Because Judas was a follower of Jesus, or so they thought. And Jesus treated Judas like all the rest, with love and compassion. But that never penetrated the hard heart of Judas.
1. John tells us that Peter, sitting on the opposite side of the table, motioned to John, who was next to Jesus, and told him to ask who the one is who is going to betray Jesus. And then Jesus said, "...It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon." John 13:26. And after Judas ate the bread, the sop, we are told that Satan entered him, and Jesus said to him, "...What you do, do quickly." John 13:27. And as Judas left, we are told that it was night, not only outside, but also inside the heart of Judas, it was dark, it was evil and that darkness, that evil was going to be manifested into action very soon.
2. Interestingly enough, the disciples still didnt know that Judas was the one who was going to betray Jesus. They thought Jesus sent him out to buy some things for the feast, since Judas was in charge of the money. God does know our hearts. And as good as we may look on the outside, as deceptive as we may be, the Lord sees right through that, as He did with Judas. As Paul said in Hebrews 4:13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
1. The Lord was in total control and the things that were coming to pass were as He had planed. He had to die so we may live! Now if that is true, then why was Jesus so harsh towards Judas? Wasnt he just fulfilling the plan of God? Why would Jesus say that it would be better if he was never born? Yes, Judas was fulfilling the plan of God, but he was acting as Satans agent also. He was still responsible for his actions. Jesus gave him every opportunity to turn from his evil ways, and he refused. And thus, even though he spent 3½ years with Jesus, Judas is spending eternity apart from Him because of the choice he made!
2. Now that Judas is gone, Jesus is going to share in communion with His disciples, and we will see that next time.