There is a LOT of Bible ground to cover in the Gospel readings for this day. I would highly recommend you take some time to read through John 13-17:26 because it’s beautiful and I’m not going to say anything about it here 🙂
What I’m going to say things about here covers other parts of the story, mainly the broken bread and the poured out wine.
I love – el-oh-vee-eee love – being with my friends around a table. So many beautiful, ordinary, yet significant moments in my life occur around a table over a meal, with a hot cup of coffee or a good glass of wine. While my body is being fed, so is my soul, and that might be the thing I long for most during this season.
We’ve reached the point in our story where Jesus is eating a good meal with his friends. A meal that they prepared and ate together every year commemorating the Passover Festival. To the disciples, this was likely beautiful and ordinary.
For Jesus and Judas, this was significant.
“As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take and eat it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.'” – Matthew 26:26-29 CSB
I’ve been thinking all day about the order of this encounter. Jesus took bread, blessed it, then broke it. The Bread of Life grabbed the bread on the table and broke it. Jesus was telling His people what was about to happen and they had no clue. But they received the broken bread from the Bread that was about to be broken.
A beautiful, ordinary meal flipped on its head and only two of them saw beyond the table they were at.
Jesus knew he was heading to his death.
Judas knew the hour had come for him to betray the One he had eaten so many meals with.
Typically, on this night, I would be gathering with my Gospel Community (church small group) and we would be partaking in a Christian Passover Seder meal. This meal is essentially a re-telling of God rescuing His people out of Egypt and a looking-forward to the full and final restoration that Christ will bring with His return. Throughout the meal we drink four (yes – four) cups of wine:
• The Cup of Sanctification/Freedom
• The Cup of Deliverance
• The Cup of Redemption
• The Cup of Thanksgiving and Hope
The final act of the meal finds the leader reciting: “Our Seder is now complete, just as our redemption is complete. We rejoice with thanksgiving, and yet are humbled by God’s love! Yet the story of God’s redemption is not ended. We celebrate what God has done in our history, and what he has done for us, but at the same time we still await a new future.”
More liturgy is recited and we, as a loud room full of ‘spirited’ people, conclude by raising our glasses high and toasting, “Next year in the New Jerusalem!”
Oh how I long to be at that table tonight. Sitting with my friends, eating the same meal that Jesus and Judas and the rest of the crew ate.
Their meal ended, Judas left, and I picture Jesus taking a deep breath before they left the upper room. The once-and-for-all Passover Lamb was about to be slain, and a room full of disciples just dusted the crumbs from their robes.
I don’t know how to wrap this one up. It feels very disjointed. I don’t like to leave things scattered, yet here we are. But in a way, that feels appropriate, because in the course of the story, chaos is about to reign down on this cast of characters.
So rather than trying to tie a neat bow around a chaotic piece of history, I’ll look forward to a good meal prepared by my own hands tonight, a full glass of good wine, and a longing for next year in the New Jerusalem.