Friday, April 10, 2020

Holy Thursday: Passover Begins

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The trek southward from the Galilee is finished. Jesus’ group has settled in at Bethany, and Jesus’ teachings to them during the days just prior to Thursday are among the most important among Christian doctrines. There is excitement in the air as Passover approaches. It is the grandest holiday of their faith, celebrating their freedom from slavery in Egypt, and following Moses to the Promised Land. The entire population of Jerusalem has prepared for this annual celebration. Like New Year’s Eve in Times Square, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Jerusalem is THE place to be for Passover.

Jesus has two Disciples find “the” man who has an upper room available for a Passover Seder. (On one day’s notice? At the height of Jerusalem’s Tourist season? This would be one of those holidays in Judea when “There was no room for them at the Inn.”). Nonetheless, finding the man was not difficult, for Jesus knew ahead of time who it was and where the room would be; He IS God-in-the-flesh, after all!

We can imagine the Apostles and Disciple’s excitement at being with Jesus at this time. Was this the weekend when Jesus would free the nation from their Roman oppressors? Would Jesus take the Throne of His Ancestor, King David? Their hearts were nearly set upon this happening!

In the Upper Room, there is happy conversation, great fellowship, and joy for living in God’s Holy Land as Seder is about to begin. Then, the mood suddenly changes. Luke records Jesus’ words as they all sat for dinner (Beginning at Luke 22:14~)

“And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve Apostles with Him. And He said unto them, ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.’ And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.'”

We can only imagine the Disciples’ thinking about this curious new teaching! Wonder? Confusion? But then, Jesus literally lowers the boom!

“But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined, but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Psalm 55:11-17)

I suspect that one could have heard a pin drop for a moment…

“And then they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.” *

The fellowship of earlier was broken. Personal responsibility became wonder and worry. Other Gospel accounts have the Apostles asking, “Is it I, Lord?”

The young Apostle John asks more directly, as He is leaning (reclined) against the Lord’s breast. “Who it is, Lord?” And to John, Jesus says, “It is he that dippeth his hand with me in the sop.”

Setting the scene:

For a moment, forget about Leonardo Da Vinci’s Masterpiece painting “THE LAST SUPPER.” Leonardo was not there to capture the scene. Social Customs of the time place Jesus second from the end of the table, in the Seat of Honor. To Jesus’ right is John. And at the end to His left, is the gathering’s “host,” Judas, for it was Judas that held the purse of the group, and he would be responsible to pay for the use of the room. At that precise moment, the hand of Judas was dipping bread in the sop with Jesus. John now knows the identity of the betrayer.

The tables would be set up in a “U” pattern, extending from Jesus’ left and around to His right. An open space would be between the tables from which servers would serve the food. The rest of the Apostles would be seated around the perimeter of the table. Peter had taken the “lowest spot,” placing him across from Judas at the other end of the table. “James the greater” would likely have been to the right of his brother John, for he is never mentioned in the Gospels without John being there too.

Now, back to the story line:

*Did you notice? When fellowship with the Lord is broken? Our focus becomes “me” and whomever else is with us. We and others become the topic of our conversations and inquiries. Our eyes are off from Jesus, and onto ourselves. This is exemplified in Matthew 7:21-23. Even in the church, “Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: Depart from me ye that work iniquity.” 
Good works apart from true faith in Jesus Christ are meaningless. Filthy rags they are, until Jesus makes all things beautiful. 

Christian song writer and recording artist, Terry Clark wrote a single years ago, and had an album, both entitled:


You’ve got to know the One Who made you.

We simply must have a relationship with the true and living God.

Salvation by association, or by proxy, is no salvation at all.

Be born again, knowing Jesus
(See Titus 3:3-5 for a definition)

N.B. ~ My personal descriptions above are conjecture on my part. For these, I apologize if they create confusion. But the Social Customs of the time are borne out by studies of ancient Roman Culture, and archaeological digs in Jerusalem and Israel from the period of Rome’s occupation of Palestine. The Israeli Government’s “Ministry of Antiquities” sponsors and oversees archaeological digs throughout the nation, and the digs are protected by Israeli Law. – Pastor Bob

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