Summary: For three years Jesus had taught, for three years he had healed and performed miracles and for three years he tried to make a difference in his world and to point people to his Father. And now it had come down to this. Jesus and the disciples had arrived
Agony is Not Defeat
Anticipation can be the worst part of any experience. Anticipation is often the most painful of experiences. Throughout the week as Friday loomed nearer and nearer, Jesus’ sense of anticipation must have grown exponentially. You’ve been there. You know how you felt the last time you had to go to the dentist to have a cavity filled, or a tooth pulled? You sat in the waiting room imagining how much it was going to hurt, you could almost feel the prick of the needle as they numbed your gums, and as you heard the sound of the drill coming from the dentist’s chair, it was as if it was your mouth. Your blood pressure went up, your palms got sweaty, your pulse increased and everything is magnified. Then the moment finally arrived….
And so it had come to this. For three years Jesus had taught, for three years he had healed and performed miracles and for three years he tried to make a difference in his world and to point people to his Father. And now it had come down to this. Jesus and the disciples had arrived in Jerusalem to a great procession with people laying their cloaks on the ground, waving palms and crying out to Jesus to save them. They spent the week in Jerusalem with the 100’s of 1000’s who had gathered for the Feast of Tabernacles with its all its excitement, pageantry, activity and noise. But then comes the quiet solitude of the Passover, an event which was meant to look back and remember when God delivered the Hebrews from slavery. But that night unbeknownst to the disciples, it foreshadows what was about to happen. Picture of the seder plate
- The removal of all leaven signifying the removal of sin from that house and now comes the one who is going to remove the sins of the world
- The Haggadah which is the re-telling of God’s physical deliverance of his people and now through Jesus they will be spiritually delivered from their sin
- The parsley which is the symbol of life dipped into salt water symbolizing the tears of the Hebrews in slavery and now Jesus the one who came to give life and the tears which will soon be shed at his death and crucifixion and the role God’s people’s had in it
- The horseradish which brings tears to the eyes reminding people that you cannot experience the sweetness of redemption without the bitterness of sin and slavery and how salvation and forgiveness of sins cannot come without crucifixion and death
- The shankbone of a lamb reminding us of the lamb sacrificed at the temple and now Jesus becomes the perfect paschal lamb
- The motza which is striped and pierced as Jesus own body would be
Picture: Cup of wine with matza As part of the seder, Jesus would take the first of 4 cups of wine. It was a symbol of the gift of freedom they received. The second, the cup of deliverance, was to remind the people of the 10 plagues used to free the Hebrews from Pharoah and his hardened heart. The disciples ate their meal and after Jesus takes some striped and pierced matza he said, This is my body given for you. Both Luke and Paul tell us that then Jesus took the third cup which is the cup of redemption, reminding the Jews of the blood shed by the lamb which was placed on the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over. It was over this cup that Jesus changed the Passover when he said, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.” Suddenly, the Passover was no longer a remembrance of what God had done but a foretelling of what God was about to do for his children through His son, Jesus Christ. There must have been a quiet whispers, quizocal looks and then a hushed silence amongst the disciples as they pondered what this could have meant. Then Mark tells us that Jesus refuses the fourth cup of wine, which is the cup of celebration, leaving the seder meal unfinished, for this is not a time of celebration but one of darkness as Jesus begins his journey of redemption, the journey to the cross.
It was in the midst of this uniting experience of the seder that Jesus announced one of the disciples was about to betray him. Jesus knew deep within his heart that this was already the beginning of the end. From the very beginning he knew that the people would reject him and his message, would reject his call to draw near to God. But he also knew that he had to make the offer, he had to walk among the people and offer them the chance to embrace him, even knowing that most would reject him, but he had to make the offer. Three years of preaching, teaching and healing and still that nation of Israel rejected God’s son. But this night, it is one of his very own chosen disciples who is going to betray him. And so it had come to this.