Mark 14: 12 – 26 The Last Supper

Mark 14: 12 – 26 The Last Supper

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, “The Teacher asks: where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me.’

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely you don’t mean me?’

‘It is one of the Twelve,’ he replied, ‘one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

*       *       *

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely you don’t mean me?’

Jesus had hand-picked the Twelve, and yet here we are told that each of them asked Jesus, ‘Surely you don’t mean me?’ Each one knew, in his heart, that he was capable of betraying Jesus.

And, of course, in a sense they all betrayed Jesus. Ten of them did so by fleeing and abandoning him to the mob sent by the chief priests and teachers of the law. Peter repeatedly denied knowing him. Judas quite literally betrayed him, by delivering him to the authorities.

Despite knowing the frailty of his disciples, Jesus proceeded to give them – and us – a wonderful gift.

Towards the end of the meal, Jesus very deliberately shared unleavened bread and wine with his disciples. He established a ritual which identified the bread as his body and the wine as his blood, and this symbolised the new covenant between God and man.

Two thousand years later we use exactly the same ritual with the same words when we participate in the Eucharist (or Mass, or Holy Communion, or Breaking of Bread).

Are we twenty-first century Christians capable of betraying Jesus? I think that, just like the Twelve, we know that we are. I certainly have secret doubts that I would last the course if confronted by persecution, say; or, indeed, if tempted by great wealth.

Thinking this, I find myself understanding more deeply the position of the Twelve. They betrayed Jesus, and yet, over the next few days, all the Twelve except Judas continued to meet. Despite abandoning Jesus when he was seized, despite having seen him die on a cross, they stayed together. They had faith; they chose to act in the belief that Jesus was the Messiah and that God would somehow bring good out of the seemingly catastrophic events.

Their acts of faith meant that they were still assembled in Jerusalem for the resurrection. However faint their faith, it was there, and it enabled them to respond to the risen Lord Jesus.

They had each been fearful of betraying Jesus; they had each failed; and yet here they were, open to the possibility of becoming witnesses to him.

In this passage, we have seen the disciples at their weakest, and it was while they were at their weakest that Jesus gave them the gift of the Eucharist, the sign of the new covenant between God and man.

Today, like the disciples, we are weak; like them, we are given bread and wine by Jesus. Let us make sure we are where he wants us to be, ready to witness to the resurrection of Jesus; ready to be his body in our world.


Heavenly Father

Thank you for the gift of bread and wine that symbolises the new covenant you have made with us. Please forgive us when our faith is weak, whether through fear or temptation.  Help us to witness to the resurrection of Jesus whenever we have the chance, and whatever the circumstances.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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