written by Morgan Stoecklein
When I look back on my youth, I can remember some of my favorite meals. They were the meals that took my Mama all day long to prepare and a fraction of a fraction of that time for the rest of us to devour. At the table we shared, we argued, we laughed and we laughed some more. The feast had us going back for seconds and thirds. The food was that good. And the company? Even better.
Have you ever had a really great meal? Like, the kind where the people around the table fill you up more than the food itself. Someone once said, “Food tastes better when you eat it with people.” (Though I’d beg to differ, as my Oreos taste just fine in my dark, companionless pantry. But, I get it.) Meals are more about who you’re with, than what you’re eating.
So here we see that Jesus chose to share a meal with just 12 men the night before his death. According to Jewish culture and the tradition of the Passover meal, this wasn’t so out of the ordinary. And as far as his 12 disciples knew, this would be like any other Seder*. But this was different, because this meal was the Last Supper.
Jesus starts by reclining at the table. The Savior of the world, the night before his death, reclines with his friends and says to them: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” He sits, with fishermen and a tax collector and a man who would betray him not so long after. The prologue of his sufferings, and Jesus was delighted to spend it with these men. To Jesus, this meal was about who he was with.
These 12 men would carry on Jesus’ mission, but more than that they would know of his deep love and care for them. They would remember his desire to be with them. “Do this in remembrance of me” Jesus said of the breaking of bread and sipping of wine. At that point, the disciples weren’t sure what they were supposed to remember. Soon, they would know. This gesture, now known as communion, is a chance to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we could recline with him at an eternal meal… forever.
To Jesus, this was the beginning of the beginning, not the end.
With Good Friday on the horizon Jesus chose to share with his 12 disciples a special meal, a few words and his final hours.
As troubling times loom over us and the future is filled with unknowns, let’s remember a God who says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”*
Let’s open the door and let God in, to eat with us. Let’s remember him, as he eagerly desires to be with us.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters,and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
*Seder – a Jewish ritual service and ceremonial dinner for the first night or first two nights of Passover