Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Last Supper

The Last Supper is never referenced in the Bible as such. The Gospels do describe Jesus telling his disciples to find a place for them to have their last meal but it is never referred to as The Lord's Supper or The Last Supper.

This "Feast of the Unleavened Bread" (seder) was a traditional meal served the evening before Passover. One of Leonardo DaVinci's most famous paintings appears above. Jesus is present, as are all 12 of the disciples, including Judas who would later betray him.

At this meal Jesus made several predictions but most, according to the book of Luke, went unnoticed. The lone exception is when Jesus said that one among them would betray him.

An argument broke out about who it was and most say this moment was appropriately captured by DaVinci. A study of each figure reveal something about their personalities.

Peter (fourth from the left), the impetuous one, is holding a knife as if he is ready to defend Jesus against the betrayer.

Judas (to Peter's left) is clutching what some believe to be a bag containing the pieces of silver he was paid to betray Jesus. He also has spilled a salt cellar which is considered a sign of bad luck.

The food on the table is typical of the seder and included wine, bread and fish. In this case it is eels which were a common fair in the fishing villages where Jesus spent most of his ministry.

This meal effectively blends the elements of the seder and the beginning of a new tradition of what will become communion among the Christian community. Communion celebrates this last meal by reciting scripture from the Bible and conveys specific meaning to the wine and unleavened bread.

Bible scholar and theology professor Henri Nowen explains The Last Supper in this manner.

It is the Christ in us who heals.  Who will be a healing reminder of wholeness?

In his second paper Nouwen explained that not only does the memory of past wounds lead to healing in others but the memory of love sustains us in the present.   In John 16:7 Jesus says to his disciples at the Last Supper, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

How many times in your life have you looked back and said, “Aha.  I never understood why that happened.  But now I can see how the puzzle pieces fit together.”  Although the disciples would grieve Jesus’ absence, only in death would they realize the full impact of Jesus’ life. - Laurie Haller

This painting commemorates old traditions and establishes new ones and also inevitably ties Hebrew tradition with modern Christianity.

This year Passover and Easter intersect as they often do. Friday, April 3rd marks the beginning of Passover, 2015 but also is considered the day Jesus was crucified ("Good" Friday).

Pesach and Easter.

Two wonderful traditions that remind Christians and Jews that we are all brothers with the same heritage.

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