Matthew 26:17-25 Dinner is Served

Come and dine

Come and dine

Today Jesus prepares to eat His last Passover meal. I don’t know if this was to be Jesus’ last meal on earth, but I think it probably was. I doubt the guards fed Him while they were torturing Him. This was a very special meal for Him and He wanted everything to be just right.

I’m having issues with trying to find a perfect timeline of Jesus’ last week on Earth, this side of the grave. I am no scholar on theology but I know a couple of facts. 1. Today’s events happened on the first day of the Unleavened Bread festival. We know this as the Passover celebration. 2. Jesus was in the grave three days and three nights. 3. Jesus rose on the first day of the week. These facts aren’t critical for today’s reading, but I was curious and want to understand the whole picture if I can. I found two websites that do a pretty good job of arguing their points for when the Passover lamb was slain and Jesus’ death in relation to that event. They are conflicting, but both have very good arguments. I’m going to let you see which one you want to go with. The first is The Sacred Page and it proposes that Jesus death coincided with the time of the perpetual sacrifice and not the Passover sacrifice. The second is and it argues for Jesus dying at the same time as the Passover lamb. Both have sound points but I think I like the ideas brought out by the first page a little more. It allows Jesus to be the perpetual sacrifice as well as allowing Him to have partaken in the Passover meal with His disciples.

Ok. Back to today’s passage. We know it is the first day of the Passover festival; also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I don’t know if this means that the preparations being made happened on the first day or if after the “eleventh hour” the first day began (after 6 PM). If the official start was that evening, then Jesus would fit the Passover lamb’s schedule to be slain. But that makes the meal He ate with His disciples not the Passover feast because the lamb had to be killed  before the Passover meal and it took three hours to cook it. If the day in question was really the first day of the festival, then Jesus and His disciples could have been eating the Passover lamb at the last supper. I have to get past this point if I’m ever going to finish!

Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question is awesome, if you ask me. This is God’s preparation in action again. Just like when He sent His disciples to get the donkey for His entrance into Jerusalem, He sends His disciples to commandeer a room for their celebration. The donkey owner and the homeowner must have been supporters of Jesus. They both willingly and immediately surrendered to Jesus’ disciples exactly what Jesus told them to ask for. I don’t know how long Jesus had the donkey, but the homeowner was expecting to have Jesus staying in this upper room for at least a week. That was the length of the Passover festival. I bet this man felt extremely honored to be hosting Jesus in his home. I wonder if this is where Jesus’ disciples were on Pentecost.

Jesus’ disciples prepared the Passover. I wonder if it was the women who traveled with them or the disciples themselves who prepared the meal. Probably doesn’t matter, I’m just curious. They didn’t eat this meal until evening of the day Jesus sent them to prepare it. Back to my earlier debate for what day was it really. Moving along!

While everyone is at the table, Jesus tells His disciples that one of them is going to betray Him. Everyone was shocked by His statement. One was shocked because he thought it was a secret. The other eleven were shocked that Jesus could think one of them would actually do such a thing. Hadn’t they all left home and jobs and family to follow Him? How could He doubt their loyalty to Him? This broke their hearts that Jesus could say such a thing. But then again, when Jesus said something was going to happen, it did. They had witnessed several examples of this just this week alone, the room they were in being one of them.

They began to ask Him who it was going to be. They were sure He knew who it would be but they were not sure of their own part in it. Each man asked Jesus if it was going to be him. Jesus didn’t name any names but said that the one who dips his hand in the same dish as Jesus would be the one who would do it. Did the disciples start watching the bowl for the tell-tale sign? Did they make sure they didn’t dip with Him? Finally Judas asks the “Is it me” question and Jesus doesn’t deflect his question. He simply said, “You have said so” to Judas.

When Jesus told Judas, “You have said so” was He meaning that Judas had “said so” to the chief priests, or that he had just asked the question of Jesus? Judas, in exchange for money had “said yes” to the chief priest’s question of “can you help us arrest Jesus.” Judas had already struck a bargain and would keep his end of it. So Jesus was in essence saying, “Yes Judas, you already told someone you would betray me. You don’t even need to ask me. You know the answer.” The other disciples were probably thinking that Jesus was predicting some slip up they would make that would betray Him to His enemies, not that one of them would ever strike a deliberate bargain to betray Jesus.

My mom and I were discussing Judas’ betrayal the other day and we both believe that if Judas would have asked for forgiveness, Jesus would have freely given it to him. But verse 24 makes me wonder about that. Jesus says that “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” regarding the one who would actually betray Him. Does this mean that Judas was beyond redemption, even if he asked for forgiveness, or that Jesus knew that Judas would kill himself and completely cut himself off from any chance of forgiveness? Judas didn’t give Jesus a chance to forgive him. He rightly judged himself guilty and passed sentence on himself for his sin. He damned himself to hell by his choice and his lack of faith in Jesus’ power of forgiveness.

Father God, thank You for forgiving all my sins. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your sacrifice that made it all possible. I’m so sorry for everything my sins cost You. I’m sorry You had to watch one of Your closest disciples completely turn on You. Before all was said and done, all of Your disciples would desert You.

Thank You for caring so much about these men that You insisted on one last meal together. That You took the time, during the most stressful time in Your life, to minister to them. That You set out observances during Your last meal that we, Your church, still hold onto today. Thank You for looking down through history and seeing us and our need for tangible reminders. Simply and forever Thank You!

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