It had all been arranged. The first ones there had found everything just as he had said, so they prepared the Passover meal, but with an undercurrent of unrest.
It was the beginning of the end. But it was not the end of the status quo that they feared. They had known no status quo for three years and had come to enjoy, instead, the freedom and security of His constant leadership.
No, they feared a return to a status quo existence. Uncontrollably, old questions crept back into their consciousness. Are the nets still in storage? In what condition? How will I buy the boat back? What’s the going price in the marketplace? Will they still be hiring tax collectors? None of the prospects were pleasing — like being sucked back into reality from an idyllic dream.
But once everybody had arrived and they were all reclining around the table, they pushed these thoughts aside, wanting most of all to remember this evening. They looked long into the faces surrounding them, committing these moments to memory in the warm glow of the candlelight. They feared it would never be the same again.
It was a night for reminiscing. The first journey with Him. The first time they realized who He was. Their first time out… two by two.
It was a night for laughter. Well-turned phrases were turned once more. Personal idiosyncrasies were bandied about, and they each found comfort in the humor of one another’s humanness. The camaraderie was strong. Three years had been a long time.
Once in a while, the laughter would be uncomfortably boisterous, and then, in the split-second stillness that followed, they would once again feel the foreboding undertow tugging at their thoughts.
Suddenly, it was a night of bewilderment. “What? A betrayer on the inside? Is it I, Lord?”
“Whatever you must do, do it quickly.”
Most of all, it was a night to remember — a night we’re still remembering.
A cup went by… something about His last taste of wine until the kingdom. And then the bread. He always broke it for them, but this time He said it was His body. They winced, as He tore at it again and again, and they swallowed hard as their portions went down.
Then it was deathly silent, and all eyes were on Him. He lifted the vessel and poured another cup of the deep purple liquid. Then He held it up and said, “Drink from it. All of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
The cup went slowly to each mouth, then passed on from hand to hand as if it were far heavier than it appeared. They would not have gone through with this had He not commanded them to do so, for they feared the taste of all that lay ahead. They wanted to stop this moment — to hold it in the cup forever. Instead, they endured slow, hesitating sips under quick glances from reddened eyes.
And then they sang a hymn and went out into the night.
* * * * *
Tonight, many churches would be holding Thursday night communion services to commemorate this first Lord’s Supper on that fateful night that Jesus was betrayed, were it not for the ban on public gatherings the current pandemic has created. So we’ll be at home with family, or spouse, or maybe alone. Why not stop and take a few moments to remember the body and the blood of Jesus broken and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. You don’t have to go out and get anything for this; just use whatever you have. That’s what they did. It will be small, and intimate, and quiet — maybe the most meaningful communion you’ve ever had.
It doesn’t take a seminary degree to do this. Just remember the body of Christ broken for you, and the blood of Jesus shed for your sins. And then one more toast to the new covenant in His blood that forever sets us free from trying to please God (which we could never do), and reminds us that we already do please God, and can enter into His presence with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.