i imagine a candlelit room, dusty, a faint musty odor. It’s spring, the days are getting longer, but the weather hits its unpredictable period, hot one day, cold and rainy the next, leaving behind sents of fresh rain, blossoming trees, and that musty odor of in-between. Here in this room the Disciples along with Jesus, gather. A meal prepared for them to observe the traditional Passover Seder. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them one last time on the meanings behind the elements of the Passover.
He begins with the washing of the disciple’s feet. Taking the lowest servant position available and doing what Peter observed as beneath Jesus to even consider doing. Jesus emptied Himself of any rank and humbled Himself before His disciples as an example to them and “US” that we are to serve others over serving ourselves. Here we read it in the NLT from John 13:
4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
Unless Jesus washes us, we will not belong to Him. The Upper Room is so full of symbolism, all of it lost on the disciples at the time. Only in retrospect were they able to grasp all that Jesus was doing in that room for them. Following this act of humility, they sat to eat the Passover Seder.
First the bread, unleavened. Why? It’s symbolic, leaven represents sin. If the bread represents the body of Christ, it too must be without sin, in this case, leaven. Traditionally the baker of the bread would puncture it to prevent any rise at all as it baked. A flatbread baked over open flame surely would show marks as well. Carrying with it, even more, symbolism of Jesus’ pierced and bruised body, His brokenness. Now, as Jesus stood before them with the bread He broke, He said, “this is My Body which is broken for you…” the significance of this is overwhelming. Did you know that in a traditional Passover Seder, the “Afikoman” is broken wrapped in cloth and hidden in the home? The children then search for it, and the one who finds it gets a prize. Then the “Afikoman” is eaten as a sort of dessert to the Seder Meal. This reminds me of Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (NASB)
There are traditionally four cups poured and drank during the Seder. Each represents a part of the story of the Exodus. The third cup is the cup of blessing, traditionally this is the cup referred to during our modern observance of the “Lords Supper.” Some would say it is the fourth cup which was known as the “cup of Elijah the Prophet” a foreshadowing of the coming Massiah. Either cups observance fits as both are fulfillments of the Kingdom. Jesus was pointing now to the finished work of the cross that they soon would experience. In the reading, i will share from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 22 (NLT) it talks about two cups the second and the third or fourth. The second cup was the cup of suffering, and it was traditionally poured out representing the plagues upon Egypt.
The Last Supper
7 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”
9 “Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.
10 He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, 11 say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 13 They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
14 When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. 15 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. 16 For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
17 Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”
19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
If you have not partaken in a Passover Seder, i highly recommend that you do. It will profoundly change the way you see Passover, the upper room, the garden and the cross.
You are Loved,