Summary: a sermon on the Last Supper
No one has had a greater impact on history or on human kind than the person of Jesus. He healed the sick, caused the lame to walk and the blind to see. He taught the people great truths which have stood the test of the ages. With 12 men, he launched a movement which would change the world. Up to that fateful Passover week in 30 AD, Jesus was considered by some a healer, by others to be a prophet, still others thought he was a danger to their power and a few believed he was the Promised One, the Messiah, who would lead Israel to freedom from Rome. But it was the last 24 hours of is life which would prove all of that and much more. It would become “24 Hours That Changed the World” as Jesus would suffer and die on the cross for the sins of the world.
Picture of Old Jerusalem. Jesus had come to the city of Jerusalem for the Passover. You will recall he entered the city of Jerusalem to a great procession with hundreds if not thousands of people lining the road waving palms, laying down cloaks and crying out, Hosanna, Son of David. This would have been his view of the temple and city as he approached the city. Scanned picture of temple from Mount of Olives. They probably entered through the Golden Gate which was at the base of the temple. Jesus went to the temple, (picture of Temple) which must have been crowded body to body as this town of 30,000 grew to 300,000 during the Passover. Jesus looked around and as it was late in the day, left to return to Bethany, a small town two miles outside the city of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. Each day, he and his disciples would travel this same path to the city and Jesus would teach in the temple which was probably on these steps (picture of the steps of the temple) where rabbis would come and teach the people.
In our Scripture today, Jesus tells two disciples, probably Peter and John, to go to Jerusalem to make preparations for the Passover. He gives the disciples mysterious instructions. Picture of Essene Gate and the Essene Quarter. They were to enter the city through the Essene Gate, entering the Essene Quarter to find a place for them to celebrate the Passover. The Essenes were a small sect of Judaism who felt that the current priests of Israel were evil and had led the people of Israel astray from the law of God. The Essenes did not recognize the current religious leadership of Israel nor their lunar dating for the calendar of the Great Feasts. They recognized the solar calendar for the Passover feast which they felt was the first calendar used by Israel as opposed to the lunar calendar. As a result, their Passover was celebrated before the majority of Jews who gathered in Jerusalem for the great feast. While Jesus obviously had contact with the Essenes and relationship with them, he chose to celebrate the Passover with Essences, knowing that he would die on the cross before the temple and majority of Jews celebrated the Passover on the Sabbath of that year.
One key to the Essene evidence was that Jesus told the disciples to look for a man who was carrying jars of water. Carrying water from the stream to one’s house was woman’s work and no Jewish male would ever be caught doing it. Most Essenes were celibate and thus there were no women to do such work. Since they were not Essenes, Peter and John would not have been let into the monastery itself. So they asked for the owner of the house and inquired if they could rent one of the guest houses which were used by family and friends of the Essenes who came to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the three great feasts of the year. A similar practice is used today by monasteries.
Upper Room picture. You will see what is considered to be the sight of the Upper Room. Archaeologists believe the original Upper Room is below this. The Room would have looked similar to this. Upon entering the room, the disciples would check to make sure all leavened bread had been removed and was ready for the Passover feast as Jesus predicted. It would have been furnished with upholstery, pillows to recline on and a low lying banquet table, probably in the shape of a u. The disciples then would have been about the preparations of the meal itself and all the elements of the Passover feast, which we will learn about in a few minutes. Once everything was prepared, Peter and John made their way back to Bethany.