The night Jesus warned his disciples about had arrived and the time for fellowship was coming to an end. They had one last supper together and Jesus had some very important, last minute words to impart. This wasn’t the first time Jesus had chosen meal time to speak some hard truths to the hearts of men.
When the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus in Luke 5:21 why he ate with the publicans and sinners, he told them, “They that are whole do not need a physician but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Once when seats were being chosen at a meal in the chief Pharisee's house, Jesus spoke to the attendees pride as they clamored for the best one. Take the lowest ranked position he told them for, “ Whoever exalts himself shall be abased and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”
What was it about gathering to nourish their physical bodies that Jesus could so easily impart the keys to his kingdom? Was it the simple joy of good food and company around the table that let their guards down? Was it the momentary lack of distraction from the outside world?
Just before the meal, when the disciples asked Jesus where he wanted them to prepare the Passover meal, Jesus commissioned them to go to a certain city and to a certain house and let the master know they would be coming. Jesus knew exactly where they were to be and what was to come. In fact, I imagine the disciples thought tonight’s meal would be like any other. With Jesus' opening words, it seemed clear it was not.
He began with a confrontation.
"One of you will betray me," Jesus told them.
His words must have taken them by surprise for with sorrowful hearts they immediately responded, "Is it I?"
From the confrontation, Jesus led them into communion. "Take eat, this is my body." Although it was their first communion, they trusted their master implicitly and did as he commanded.
COMMITMENT & COMFORT
Christ followed up with a commitment. "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom...but after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." They didn't know it, but he was preparing their hearts for what was about to take place. With his own agony hours away, Jesus comforted their hearts.
Another confrontation ensued as Jesus tells them, "All of you shall be offended because of me this night." Peter's prideful heart announced it's loyalty above all others as he boldly proclaimed, "Though all men will be offended because of you, I will never be offended."
Peter's declaration resulted in correction. "Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me three times," Jesus told him.
With this, Matthew's account of the last supper ends. What happens next is the single greatest moment in human history.
Today, on this truly good Friday, I encourage you to read the rest of the story for yourself. Take time like Jesus and his disciples did to step away from the distractions of life and read what Jesus did.
Whether for the first time or the thousandth, may God refresh and renew your soul as you read about his great love this Easter.