Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Lord's Supper (Mk 14)

In Mark's gospel after Jesus is anointed at Bethany and Judas decides to betray Jesus we find the account of Jesus celebrating the Passover with his disciples (Mk 14:12-21). In Mark this is followed by the institution of the Lord's Supper and Jesus foretelling Peter's denial (Mk 14:22-31). Watch the video or listen the story and then read the comments below.
Sharing a meal can help bind people together and strengthen their relational ties. The Passover meal did this by retelling the story of the Exodus when God rescued Israel from Egyptian slavery. As faithful Jews, Jesus’ disciples wanted to know from Jesus where they should prepare for the Passover meal (Exodus 12). Jesus told them to go into the city and follow a man with a water jar into a house and ask the owner about his guest room. The disciples went into the city and found things as Jesus had told them (Mk 14:16). Jesus was well aware of all this and even knew that the owner of the house had a guest room set apart for his use (Mk 14:14).

In the evening Jesus arrived at the house with his disciples. At the meal he told the twelve that one of them would betray him. Jesus knew of passages in the Psalms which spoke of being betrayed by a friend (Ps.41:9) and he knew which one of the twelve would betray him. This news saddened the disciples and they each said, “Surely not I?” (Mk 14:19).  The betrayer would be one of the twelve who would dip bread into the bowl with Jesus.  Things would go according to God’s plan but the one betraying the ‘Son of Man’ would be held responsible (Mk 14:19). But the news of his betrayal and of his death turned this Passover celebration in a solemn meal. 

Clearly, Jesus wanted his disciples to understand the Passover in the light of his death. His reference to Daniel’s ‘son of man’ and Isaiah’s ‘suffering servant’ connect his death to the coming of God’s kingdom (Dan. 7:13, Isa. 53:12). Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying that the bread was his body. The bread of affliction (Dt.16:3) in the Passover story would be replaced by the broken body and the cup would now represent his own blood that would fulfill God’s covenant (Mk14:24, Ex.24:8). Then Jesus vowed not drink again of the fruit of the vine until he would drink it anew in the kingdom of God (Mk 14:21).

After all this, they sang a hymn, and went out to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus told the rest of his disciples that they would all fall away (Zech.13:7). Peter said he would not, but Jesus said Peter would deny him three times that night. Again, Peter adamantly denied this and the others did likewise. This episode and the meal Jesus instituted challenges us to locate ourselves somewhere between denying Jesus and betraying him. This meal was given to be perpetually observed in the church to help us to continually look by faith to Christ to enable us to live out of the benefits of Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

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