The Passover Supper of Jesus


We are continuing to meditate on the last supper of Jesus and His disciples the day before Christ's crucifixion. Jews from the Galilee region had a different time-keeping system to the Jews in the south. The Galilean Jews counted the day as starting at the time when the sun came up; whereas, the Jews of Judah and Jerusalem counted a new day as starting as soon as two stars could be seen in the sky. This difference in timing was beneficial when it came to the sacrifices going on in the temple. Jesus could eat the Passover on a Thursday night and deliver Himself in Jerusalem as the Passover Lamb slain before the foundation of the world on the Friday we remember as "Good Friday."

8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." 9"Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. 10He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 12He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there." 13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover (Luke 22:8-13).

Jesus gave John and Peter a cryptic message instead of a street address as to how to find the room for the Passover meal. It was very rare to see a man carrying water, so Peter and John would notice and follow the man to the place Jesus had arranged. Judas had to wait until Jesus, and the other disciples met up with John and Peter after they had made their preparation. The Lord was aware of Judas' betrayal, and having a street address would have made it easy for Judas to give directions to the religious leaders to arrest him during the Passover meal. That would not happen.

As they arrived at the upper room that Thursday night, the lamb was already roasting and the table laid by John and Peter. The disciples reclined around a table called a triclinium consisting of three tables set twelve to eighteen inches off the floor and shaped in the form of a large U. They all lay on cushions or low couches on the floor around the table with Jesus at the head of the table. Each of them rested their weight on their left elbow and side, reaching onto the table with their right hand to get food. On the table were flat pieces of unleavened bread to remind them that they left Egypt in haste. There were bowls of bitter herbs to remember the bitter slavery they endured in Egypt. Also on the table was the charoseth, a savory mix of chutney made of apples and nuts, to remind them of the mixture they used to make bricks for Pharoah, as well as saltwater to remind them of the tears they had shed at the time.

The traditional Passover meal followed a set pattern:

1) A prayer of thanksgiving by the head of the house and drinking the first cup of (diluted) wine.

2) The eating of bitter herbs.

3) The son’s inquiry, “Why is this night distinguished from all other nights?” and the father’s appropriate reply, either narrated or read.

4) The singing of the first part of the Hallel (Psalms 113, 114) and the washing of hands. The second cup.

5) The carving and eating of the lamb, together with unleavened bread.

6) Continuation of the meal, each eating as much as he liked until the last of the lamb was finished. The third cup was then drunk.

7) Singing of the last part of the Hallel (Psalms 115-118). Then the fourth cup.[1]

The eating of the lamb was a picture to the Israelites that the True Lamb of God, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus would come and reside within their lives, cleansing and renewing them from within. Paul, the apostle, wrote, Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Have you by faith eaten of the Lamb? Keith Thomas

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke. Click on study 59. The Last Supper.

[1] William Hendricksen, Exposition of the Gospel according to Luke (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1978) pp. 959-60.