The Passover Seder is a very lengthy meal. It allows for much discussion as well as remembrance of the meal's significance and how it plays such a central place in Jewish history. But with Jesus the Jew who was now representing a New Way, taking traditional Jewish Law and adding a living component, Himself, He wanted to also explain to His followers that His coming at this time was not permanent but that He would return. And, more importantly, He wanted them to know that His departure would mean their lives would be much more difficult, but they must remain true to Him. He offered the sacrament of the Holy Communion as their remembrance of Him, with the bread representing His body and the wine His blood. And while they listened and partook, they just didn't realize what that all meant. But this Last Supper, Jesus' last meal before His death on the Cross, would become the standard by which we recommit to Him symbolically in Christian churches the world over even today.
Even when Jesus washed their feet, clearly a duty of a servant, they really didn't understand His significance, thinking it strange that the King of Kings would perform such a menial task. But there was a reason for every action He took, and He knew that after He departed, these things would come back to them and they would understand the full significance of the act, symbolically meaning their life as Christians was to be one of service and love.
Toward the end of the meal, Judas Iscariot, known by Jesus to be the one who would betray him, dipped his bread in the wine, the signal which Jesus said would identify his betrayer. He came over, kissed Jesus who responded by telling him to go quickly and do his evil deed, and Judas hurried away. Like so much more that evening, the Disciples didn't fully comprehend what was happening and they were puzzled. Shortly thereafter, Jesus rose and departed from the room and headed to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Upon arrival in the Garden, Jesus told the Disciples to watch over him by staying awake as He went off by Himself to pray. He was in anguish, shaking and sweating profusely, many reports saying the sweat actually included His blood. He knew what was expected and asked His Father to release Him from his required commitment and at that moment He felt entirely alone. The sins of the world were sitting on His shoulders and He was heavy laden. He knew that He must go forward with the plan that filled Him with dread.
Returning to His Disciples, even they had let Him down, falling asleep when told to stand watch, but Jesus knew this was part of what He had to bear and it wasn't long thereafter when the soldiers, led by Judas, came near. Judas came forward and identified Him with a kiss, and the soldiers took Him into custody. The Disciples wanted to fight, with Peter even cutting off the ear of one of the warriors, but Jesus silenced them. Jesus healed the wounded soldier as His Disciples fled in fear and the soldiers led Him to the High Priest, pushing and punching and mocking Him all the way.
The arrest was late in the evening and upon arrival at the Temple, the High Priest Caiaphas and His Temple leadership team gathered. They would find Him guilty, with only Nicodemus showing any strong objection, and then the issue would move to the secular leaders, both King Herod and the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, to seal the fate of Jesus in the coming morning. Our story will continue with Good Friday, the Day of Horrors, in the next blog. I hope you'll join us as the Greatest Story Ever Today heads closer to its conclusion. Praise His Holy Name!