Mar 27 // Day 34
Plans are set in motion to kill Jesus (v.2). As we have already noted, these events are happening at the same time as the Jewish festival of Passover. This is deeply symbolic. Jesus is in Jerusalem to bring about the new exodus (see Day 16 & Day 30). Passover was the opening-day feast of the seven-day Feat of the Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5-6). Jesus would have celebrated this festival every year (see Luke 2.41) but this year will, of course, be very different.
All the preparations have been made: Jesus has sent Peter and John ahead into the city of Jerusalem to an upper room in a house. At this point, Jesus and his disciples are in lodgings on the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem (21.37) but Jewish Law instructed that the Passover meal was to be eaten inside the walls of the city (Deuteronomy 16:5-6). The owner of this house is expecting them (v.11) and Peter and John begin to prepare for the feast.
We read how Jesus is eating the Passover meal with his disciples (v. 14), including Judas. We read in v.3 that Satan, with the consent of Judas’ sinful heart, has exerted his will over Judas and Judas has put plans in motion for Jesus’ arrest (v.6). In John’s gospel, we read that Judas was already a thief, who had been stealing money from Jesus’ mission funds (John 12.6) and that he had never fully believed the message of Jesus (John 6: 64 & 70). Jesus explains that His arrest and consequent crucifixion will actually achieve the purposes of the Kingdom of Heaven – Satan, and those who align themselves with his purposes, will not have the final word (v. 22).
Jesus tells His disciples that He has been longing to have this meal with them (v. 15). The centrepiece of the Passover meal was a cooked lamb. This was to represent the lambs that were killed on the day the Lord rescued the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The lambs’ blood was smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites houses. The Lord brought judgement on the nation of Egypt by killing their firstborn children that night, passing over the houses marked by this blood (Exodus 12). After this, Pharaoh finally allows the people of Israel their freedom.
The symbolism here is clear: in this new exodus, Jesus is the Passover lamb, sacrificed for our freedom. His blood will spare us from the death we deserve. It is in this moment that Jesus demonstrates a new ritual for His disciples to follow. He breaks some bread and takes some wine, and explains that through the breaking of His body and the outpouring of His blood on the cross, God will be making a new covenant (a promise, v.20) with his people. ‘Giving thanks’ (v.17 & v.19) comes from the Greek word eucharisteo, from which comes ‘Eucharist’. Jesus instructs his followers (including us) to continue to do this ritual for ourselves, in order to remind us of the significance His death on the cross (v.19).
Thanks for joining us today! Remember you can use the tools we’ve provided in the Reading Plan to help you engage with each passage of scripture.