Sermons

Summary: How do you handle impending doom? You know, those times when something bad is happening and it's about to get much worse? Jesus faced the ultimate in impending doom in the Garden of Gethsemane. How He handled it is a model for us in times of difficulty.

The stage has been set, the lights have dimmed. The players have taken their places and learned their lines. All the blocking is complete and the production of Jesus’ crucifixion is ready to begin. From Chapter 14 verse 12 the action is nearly non-stop leading to the betrayal, arrest, trial, conviction, sentencing and execution of our Lord. But before He goes to the cross, Jesus wants one last time with his men—to comfort them and warn them of betrayal both within their group and within themselves.

12 – 16

There is some confusion over whether this was Wednesday or Thursday of Passion Week. Matthew, Mark, and Luke seem to indicate it was Thursday—official Passover. John suggests that it was Wednesday (John 18:28). Passover was followed by a weeklong “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Suffice it to say that either the Last Supper was on Wednesday, a day early, so Jesus could be killed on Thursday, actual Passover, or it was on Thursday evening. Passover technically would go from sundown Thursday (6:00pm) to sundown Friday so even if Jesus was crucified on Friday, it would still be technically Passover. Also—though the Passover lamb was slain on Thursday evening, it wasn’t until after midnight (so Friday morning) in the Exodus account, that the payment was applied (ie: the angel “passed over” the houses of the Israelis because they had applied the blood of the lamb), saving the firstborn Israelis (Exodus 12:29).

Luke 22:8 tells us that Jesus sent Peter and John on this errand. Mark adds the detail about how they were to find the spot He had arranged for the Passover meal. Why all of the cloak and dagger? Jesus knew there was a price on His head and was very careful to arrange just when and where He would be arrested. So he keeps the location a secret from everyone including his men. Peter and John would not know the location until they were on their way so there could be no leaks.

Why would they have known who to follow? Because it was women, not men, who normally carried the water jugs, so this guy would have stood out. It must have been a pre-arranged signal—the owner of the house sending a male servant on purpose. Since the boys also had to go to the market to buy the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, wine, and other items for the ceremonial meal—even someone following them would not know where they were headed as they wound their way through the streets and busy marketplaces.

17 – 21

This account of the Last Supper is abbreviated compared with other gospels. Mark is laser-focused on Jesus’ mission and so concentrates on the fact that Jesus identifies his betrayer. What we miss is the foot washing (John 13:5-12), the final comforting words (John 14:1-16:30), and the high priestly prayer (John 17:1-26).

The Seder feast was arranged around the drinking of four cups of wine—all from Exodus 6:6-7. The four cups were: 1) "I will bring you out"; (2) "I will rid you of bondage"; (3) "I will redeem you"; and (4) "I will take you for my people, and I will be your God."

After the first cup is when they would have dipped the bread in the herbs. In John’s account we also see how Jesus identified Judas to John by giving him a piece of bread dipped in the bitter herbs (John 13:26). We also find out from John that after this event, Judas leaves, allowing Jesus to institute the Lord’s Supper to those who remained.

22 – 25

Jesus took the unleavened bread, broke it and gave it to the disciples. It gave the traditional passing of bread a new meaning. Jesus was using the bread as a symbol for what He was about to do—be broken for their wholeness. Then Jesus took the third cup (“I will redeem you”) and made it so much more meaningful. I’m sure the real meaning was lost on the disciples but Jesus will shortly shed His blood to establish a new covenant between God and man—an everlasting covenant. Normally He would have taken the fourth cup: "I will take you for my people, and I will be your God." But Jesus will wait until He returns for the conclusion of this meal—a celebration we will get to participate in. Why is it “in a new way”? Because we will not celebrate the Passover from Egypt anymore so much as the Passover from death for the human race!

27 – 28

So they have left Jerusalem and are making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives and Jesus makes a startling statement—quoting Zechariah 13:7 and then comforting them that He is going to meet them back home. I’m pretty sure the “resurrected” part didn’t compute—they focused on the “run away” part—especially Peter.

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