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The Lord's Supper - the Final Week in Jerusalem

Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13, 18

The Plot to Kill Jesus

Jesus was very popular with the crowds of people in Jerusalem. The chief priests of the temple felt their authority slipping away and became very jealous. They were looking for a way to kill Jesus, but they didn't know how they could arrest Him without starting a riot.

But one of Jesus' disciples, Judas, became a traitor. As a disciple, Judas knew all the places that Jesus usually went. He could lead the chief priests to Jesus late at night when He was away from all the crowds of people. That way, they could arrest Jesus without causing a riot.

Judas went to the chief priests and told them his plan. They liked it and paid Judas a large sum of money - about four months' wages - to betray Jesus.

Jesus Washes His Apostles' Feet

Jesus washes the feet of His disciples

Jesus washes the feet of His disciples.

The day had come for the Passover meal. The Jews celebrated Passover, as they had for centuries - with roasted lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs and four cups of wine.

Jesus made plans to celebrate with the twelve disciples that He had named as apostles. Jesus sent them into Jerusalem to prepare a traditional Passover meal, and He joined them that evening.

Then Jesus did something that surprised everyone. He got a towel and a wash basin and began to wash the feet of each of His apostles.

When it was Peter's turn, he didn't think it was right for Jesus to be washing feet. People walked around in sandals on the dusty roads, and it was the job of a servant to wash the feet of a guest when he came into a house. But Jesus was not a servant; He was the master!

Peter said, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You don't know why I am doing this, but you will understand later." Peter was not convinced and said, "You will never wash my feet!" But Jesus said, "Unless I wash you, you will have no part of me." So Peter said, "Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord!"

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

Jesus shares bread and wine with His disciples at the Last Supper.

Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, and He would be crucified the next day. It was not only Passover; it was Jesus' last meal with His disciples, so it was a very special occasion.

As Jesus and His disciples were eating, Jesus again surprised and upset all the disciples. He said, "Truly I tell you, one of you who is eating with Me will betray Me!" All the disciples looked around and said, "Surely, it is not I, Lord." Peter asked Jesus, "Who is it, Lord?" Jesus replied, "It is the one I give this piece of bread to." Then he handed the bread to His disciple Judas and said, "Do quickly what you are going to do." Judas left immediately, but most of the disciples did not know why.

Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, blessed it and broke it into pieces. He gave a piece to each of the eleven remaining disciples and said, "This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me."

Then he took a cup of wine, gave thanks, and passed it around the table, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I will never again drink wine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

Jesus Is Arrested

Judas betrays Jesus

Judas gives Jesus a kiss as a signal to the chief priests' armed mob.

After the Passover meal, Jesus led His disciples out to a deserted garden called Gethsemane to pray. He prayed to His Father in heaven that He could somehow be spared the agony of crucifixion that He knew He was about to face. But, above all, He was determined to complete His earthly mission. He closed His prayer by saying, "My Father, if this suffering cannot be avoided, Your will be done."

Jesus often went to Gethsemane with the disciples, and Judas knew this was the perfect place to arrest Jesus without attracting attention. The chief priests and elders of the temple sent an armed mob along with Judas. Judas told the mob he would identify Jesus by giving Him a kiss, a common form of greeting at that time.

Now Judas arrived with the mob sent by the chief priests. He went up to Jesus, kissed Him, and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" This was the signal for the mob to take Jesus captive.

Peter, wanting to defend Jesus, drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. But Jesus said, "Put away your sword; all who take to the sword will die by the sword. Don't you know that I could ask My Father, and he would send legions of angels to protect Me. But the scriptures say it must happen this way."

The mob grabbed Jesus and took Him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. But all of Jesus' disciples ran away in fear that they would also be arrested.


What Is an Apostle?

"Disciple" means a student or learner, and Jesus had many disciples. He chose twelve of them to be apostles. Apostle means a messenger, and the apostles were to carry the message of Jesus to all the world (Matthew 28:16-20).

Why Did Jesus Wash the Feet of His Apostles?

Jesus was the man His disciples called "Master" and "Lord." But Jesus wanted to show his apostles that true greatness does not come from being important and powerful. Jesus did something that only a lowly servant would do - wash the feet of guests to a household. By this example, He showed the apostles that true greatness comes from being a servant. Those who want to be the greatest in God's kingdom must dedicate their lives to serving God and serving mankind (Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 9:35, Luke 18:14).

Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?

Judas was under the influence of Satan (Luke 22:3, John 13:27). But how did Satan tempt Judas to betray Jesus? Maybe it was greed; the chief priests paid him a lot of money to betray Jesus. Maybe Judas had lost faith in Jesus and decided He was not the Messiah after all. Whatever the reason, Judas let Satan get the best of him and committed a great sin. But Judas was also a player in God's master plan, and his secret betrayal may have saved many innocent people from being hurt in a riot.

What Is the Meaning of the Lord's Supper?

When Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup of wine at the Last Supper, He was clearly doing something of great importance. Most Christian churches regularly reenact this event in a sacrament known as "The Lord's Supper," "Communion" or "Eucharist." Bread (or wafers) and wine (or grape juice) are given to the people and Jesus' words at the Last Supper are repeated.

Different beliefs about the meaning of the Lord's Supper have developed in different churches. Some believe the bread and wine, when consecrated by a priest, become the actual body and blood of Christ. Others believe Christ is present in the bread and wine, but they do not change into His actual body and blood. Others believe the bread and wine do not change, but Christ is spiritually present in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Still others believe the Lord's Supper is mainly a memorial celebration of Christ's life and work.