Bible Verses of the Week

The Last Supper

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21 and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (NRSV, Matthew 26:17–30)

Jesus celebrated the traditional Jewish Passover meal with His 12 disciples. There is some uncertainty, but it was likely on a Thursday evening in early April around the year 30 A.D.

Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come for Passover. Jesus had been preaching in the temple and large crowds of people came to hear Him. The Jewish religious leaders were jealous of Jesus' influence over the people. They wanted to arrest Jesus but feared a riot if they did (Matthew 26:3-5). Judas knew Jesus and the disciples had been camping outside Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives, and he sold that information to the religious leaders for 30 pieces of silver, or about 6 months' pay for a laborer (Matthew 26:14-16). That provided Jesus' enemies with an opportunity to arrest Him out of sight of the crowds.

With His sharing of the bread and wine, Jesus instituted the Christian sacrament known as "the Lord's Supper," "Communion," or "Eucharist." Most churches celebrate the sacrament regularly by sharing bread and wine or grape juice. Christians have different beliefs and traditions about this sacrament, but it provides a common bond of remembering, experiencing and sharing Jesus' presence among us.