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The Last Supper and the death of Jesus

On the 10th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar, Jesus entered into Jerusalem, as the Lamb of God needed to be selected and examined, according to the Old Testament (Exodus 12:3), for the sacrifice made on the 14th day of the month (Exodus 12:6).

The importance of this last week of time Jesus spent on earth with his disciples before he was betrayed and crucified surpasses the rest of all human history in the past together.

It is far more important to remember our Savior’s death than his birth. There was a reason why the Bible hid the birthday of Jesus but recorded in detail of his death and the exact date. Even his birth was a sacrifice made by him because he had to put down his divine glory and put on humanity (Philippines 2:6-8), but in his death the Lord made the ultimate sacrifice. He did not die due to a defeat. He died willingly, according to the will of God (Luke 22:42; 24:46). In fact, he came to die for man. He had to, because of his own voluntary choice of children of Abraham, not angels, as his companion, knowing that they would sin and betray God and will need to be helped and redeemed (Hebrews 2:16-17); and because his death is the only Solution to the Problem of Sin. Without the Solution to the Problem of Sin, the whole universe and the mankind would be doomed (Romans 8:20-22).

Let us be thankful, consider these things carefully.

The two suppers, the love of Mary, and the hatred of Judas

There are two important suppers in those last days, and they were recorded in detail in the Gospels. The first supper was at Simon’s house in Bethany two days before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and then the Last Supper in the city of Jerusalem on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The first supper expressed the love of the saints for the Lord Jesus, while the second (the Last Supper) expressed the love of the Lord for the saints – and all this transcend the specific time, location and individuals, because it is the deepest expression in the universe.

At the first supper, Mary (a sister of Lazarus of Bethany) broke an alabaster flask containing costly ointment of oil of spikenard and poured it on the head of Jesus, in preparation of his death (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:2-8).

At the Last Supper, Judas did what he wanted to do, betraying the Lord (Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:21-30).

The ointment was Mary’s life savings, which she poured out in love onto the Lord.

Judas also poured out his life’s savings, his unbelief-turned-hatred, on the Lord.

How meaningful it is for the Holy Spirit to put Mary and Judas in the same chapter for contrast here!

Mary anointed the King of kings, and did the most beautiful thing that a human being on earth could do. Mary is a type, a representation and a symbol of what it means to know and love the Lord. We can do many good deeds, including helping the poor, but knowing and loving the Lord is the prerequisite and foundation of all value in those things.

Mary’s love was expressed at a special and completely unique time. Just as darkness gathered before the path of the Lord, true love found the light in the darkness and followed it, expressing it at the most opportune time. The Bible does not say whether Mary had the gift of prophecy, and whether she knew exactly how significant what she did to the Lord was, but this is not the key. What the Holy Spirit showed here was true spiritual intelligence, simple and sincere, and rooted in love. Mary saw the dark clouds that were gathering in the path of the Lord’s path ahead. The hatred and malice of the Jews was gathering and escalating, which was obvious to Mary. But the rising danger stirred in her heart a deeper love for the Lord, rather than fear. This is the quality of the true love of the saints for the Lord. Love is love, and does not need to be pretended, nor can it be pretended.

In contrast, the same danger that rose in the heart of Judas inspired disappointment and contempt, in deadly selfishness and wickedness.

Mary knew with certainty in her heart what was going to happen to Jesus: he will die in Jerusalem. Disciples all heard Jesus telling them about his death, but they had a hard time to believe or understand. Only true faith would have such spiritual revelation. She must have known that this act of hers was the last chance to express her love for Jesus on earth at that time. But she must not have imagined that what she did would become a symbol of the love of the saints on earth for the Lord and would be preached in the Gospel forever until the time ends.

This is true spiritual intelligence. What Mary did was not only beautiful in itself, but was expressed in the most appropriate and beautiful way, at the best time, all without any theory, without any deliberate planning.

Blessed Mary. May each one of us, may the Church of Christ, like Mary, enter into this true spiritual wisdom. All theology and spiritual knowledge are dulled before such true spiritual wisdom, which grows in love and emanates from love, naturally.

Wherever the gospel is preached in all the world, it will be told as a memorial of what Mary did (Mark 14:9). The word “memorial” here and the word “remembrance” are two different words in the original language, the former being μνημόσυνον (memorial) and the latter is ἀνάμνησις (remembrance). The purpose of the former is for the sake of the person who is being remembered (i.e. not to let the past and deeds of the person be forgotten), while the purpose of the latter is for the sake of the one who remembers (i.e. so that the one who remembers does not forget the meaning in the event). Today we remember what Mary did, so that the love of the saints for Christ, which Mary represents, may not be forgotten (remains in the gospel, in heaven, and in the memory of God); and we come to remember the death of our Lord, so that we may not forget why we (the saints) love Christ (because Christ first loved us, and so loved us), by remembering what he did for us.

Judas, on the other hand, betrayed the King of kings. He betrayed the Lord Jesus, not because he was greedy for money (although he was), but because he did not believe. He followed Jesus in the beginning because he felt that Jesus had political value and power in him and was a leader worth following. But in the end, Judas’ unbelief caused him to become completely disillusioned with Jesus. The act of love by Mary, who poured out her life savings, may have ignited in Judas a long-accumulated jealousy and even anger. He had been a money-lover, and he now found Jesus was of no great value to him, as Jesus himself had told his disciples that he would suffer in the hands of man and die when he went to Jerusalem.

The only thing a man’s heart can focus on is the value his heart can recognize. This was the case with Judas. To Judas, the ointment of Mary didn’t represent love, but was only equivalent to silver in his eyes, and the silver was wasted on a man (Jesus) whom he no longer considered worthy, so he felt that if he could get back some of the silver price by betraying Jesus, he had not followed this man in vain.

“A lifetime of fruitfulness comes from the heart.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Passover Lamb

The Jewish Passover was coming up soon. Many people, including Jews in foreign countries, went to Jerusalem for the feast during this time.

The chief priests and scribes were already thinking of schemes to arrest Jesus and kill him. But they were afraid that if they did it on the day of the feast, there would be too many people and chaos would arise.

However, everything happened according to God’s plan. Satan and his followers did their best to stop God. They did it according to their nature and schemes, but in the end, they only inadvertently became the instruments and means that God used to accomplish His plan.

According to God’s plan and revelation, Jesus was to be the true Passover Lamb to be slain. The lamb slain by the Jews at the Passover every year for over a thousand years before was only a shadow. The real substance was the Son of Man, the Lamb of God. Although the Jews themselves wanted to choose a different day to kill Jesus, he was destined to be killed on the Passover. For he was the Lamb of God; for this was the will of God.

Judas’ decision to betray Jesus that night was the reason for the Jews’ decision to put Jesus to death early. They had feared that arresting him during the day would cause riots among the people, but now that Judas had betrayed Jesus, they could find him in the place where Jesus and his disciples had gathered in private and do it in a place and time where there were no crowds.

Nothing happens on earth unless it is God’s will or God’s permission. And there is nothing that God plans to do that is not accomplished. As it was manifested in Christ Jesus, so it will be in the saints. What a comfort this is to us.

The Last Supper

So the Lord asked his disciples to arrange the Last Supper. That night, the Lord sat with his disciples, spoke with them, and testified for the last time in the flesh to his love for those who had become his companions.

At the supper, the Lord’s heart went through deep agony, which not only included his telling them most formally what was going to happen, but also specifying that one of them was going to betray him.

The disciples were filled with sorrow at these words, except for Judas, who would betray Jesus. Hearing the serious and certain tone of their Lord, they did not dare to have confidence in themselves, but came to ask him cautiously. One by one they asked the Lord, “Lord, is it I?”

How it is the same with us today! In some important matters, such as betraying the Lord, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:29) and “willful sin” (Hebrews 10:26), which may be fatal and irreversible, we may not always have confidence in ourselves. But even if a person comes to the Lord with uncertainty and doubt in his heart, he comes to the Lord with sorrow, and his very doubt about himself shows a simple fact: this one is not Judas. There was no doubt in Judas’ mind about this question. He knew what he was going to do. This is described in more detail in Matthew 26:21-25. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly troubled, and asked the Lord one by one, “Lord, is it I?” Only Judas finally answered, “Rabbi, is it I?” (Matthew 26:25, “answered,” not “asked”). Jesus then said, “You have spoken.” Here, notice that Judas addressed Jesus differently than the other disciples.

The disciples’ love for the Lord was real, even though they did not yet have a clear understanding in the spirit. Their love for the Lord was a reflection of His love that could cover their shortcomings.

However, what the Lord faced that day, including Judas’ betrayal and the sorrow in which his heart was placed that night, did not stop the outflow of Christ’s love for his disciples.

“And when lawlessness increases, many grow cold in love.” (Matthew 24:12)

But thank the Lord, this is true for us, but not for Him. In the midst of the most wicked lawlessness heaping and leaping up, the most divine love is most fully revealed.

It was the Lord’s table. He washed their feet. His blood washes our sin (redemption); his Word washes our body (sanctification); but only his love washes our feet, which the present our humility, inconvenience and even offensiveness in our temporarily having to walk in this world. He broke the bread and shared with the disciples. It is his body that is broken.

The supper that night was not only an outpouring of the Lord’s love, but also a renewed promise and guarantee of the Lord in love. The Lord wanted them to remember from it not a temporary emotion, but his own self and the sacrifice he would make for them.

At the end of the supper, the Lord laid the foundation of the New Covenant made with his blood through the cup that he set up, passed on to them, divided among them. The cup became a symbol that they were partakers of his death and his resurrection. It is a sealed covenant that is not to be broken ever. After they had all drunk it, he declared to them that it was a seal of the New Covenant. This serious form of covenanting was not unfamiliar to the Jews, but the essence of the covenant made here, that is, by the blood of Jesus Christ, was completely new. It was for the first and last time in history. The disciples did not understand it very well at that time. Yet their hearts were sincere. They also knew the seriousness and sincerity of the Lord.

At the same time, Jesus said that this blood was not shed for them alone, but for many (Mark 14:24). They thus knew that their Lord was not only the Savior of the disciples, but also the Savior of all mankind.

However, in order for this covenant to be established, everything did not stop at these signs. Jesus really had to die, and to die on the cross. As a result of the his death, the then existing incarnational relationship between the disciples and the Lord was about to be severed, no matter how close and how much love there was in this relationship. This was the law of the incarnational sphere (realm). The disciples did not really believe in the resurrection of Jesus at that time, so this was indeed a final separation for them.

Despite the disciples’ lack of understanding at that time, Jesus still solemnly told them not only about his death and resurrection, but also the final glorious ending. He said to them “I would not more drink of the fruit of the vine again, until I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

In these words of Jesus, on the one hand, he reaffirms the absolute nature of this separation, but at the same time, the second half of his statement tells them that after the end of this sphere, another sphere will be opened. There would be a new day of drinking the new fruit of the line in the kingdom of God. Soon the disciples would understand that all their hope was in this promise of the Lord.

In the immediate reality, however, they were faced with the urgent reality of their impending separation. The Lord confirmed to them once again that they would be separated not because he had forsaken them, but because he had to fulfill the will of God the Father for their sake and for the sake of all people.

The Lord bluntly told them that it was they who were to forsake him. He told them so, not to blame and reproach them, but to prepare them beforehand, so that after they had stumbled and forsaken the Lord, they would not blame themselves to such a degree that they would be too ashamed to come to Him.

The Lord also told them clearly that he would rise again, and that he would go to Galilee before them after his resurrection. That was the place where their earthly relationship began. It was the place where the light of the gospel began to shine. He would renew his relationship with them there, and they would enter into a better relationship from then on.

As it is written in the Scripture, God will smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27). The shepherd and the sheep in the past were just metaphors. Now it is the true Shepherd. The striking will also be the true Striking, which is Death, the penalty of sin, on behalf of all mankind. For man, death is ultimate. Who can withstand such a blow as death?

Only One can, and that is the Lord Himself.

Peter, representing the most brave of the disciples, sincerely felt that his love for Jesus was so deep that it was impossible for him to forsake Him. Peter’s feeling was sincere, genuine, and not false. But he did not recognize the difference between the two spheres, the incarnational and the spiritual. The former is connected with death, while the latter is connected with eternal life. His fleshly emotions, no matter how real and sincere they were, did not and could not take him very far. He would know it soon.

Peter did not know how deep the abyss of death was. He thought he could follow his beloved Lord, yet the gulf between where his Lord was going and him was so deep and wide that he was completely incapable of crossing it. He did not understand what death was, much less the Lord’s death. He also did not understand the resurrection of Jesus.

The Lord’s death brings man to the light and to the truth, and through death he is given a bitter deadly poison; but through his resurrection he is brought to new life.

It was the Ark of the Covenant that passed through the river of Jordan (Joshua 3:3-17), but only after the Ark had entered the water of the Jordan, and after the water of the Jordan had stopped, could the people walk through over the bed of the Jordan. He went first, we follow after him.

After this, Jesus entered the final temptation he had to face, Gethsemane.

Next: Gethsemane