The journey to the cross begins tonight.  As the sun sets in Charlotte, I wonder if it was about this time that Jesus and His disciples gathered for what would become known as Jesus’ last supper.  They met in the upper room of a home to observe Passover with the traditional Passover meal.  The disciples had no idea of what was about to happen, but Jesus did.

The evening began in an unusual way when Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and assumed the servant’s role, greeting each of the disciples by washing their feet.  He taught the disciples that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve others, and they should do the same.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells Peter, “If I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.”  That’s an interesting use of words, for in just hours, the blood of Jesus would be shed for all, allowing us to be washed clean of our sins so we can indeed belong to Him.

Earlier in the week, Caiaphas, the high priest and other religious leaders began to meet to discuss ways to secretly capture and kill Jesus.  According to the book of Matthew (26:14-16), Judas went to the leaders offering to betray Jesus to them.  They would pay him 30 pieces of silver to do so.  Jesus knew the betrayal was about to take place.

Jesus knew He had little time left with the disciples before He’d be led away and eventually crucified.  He spoke carefully to the disciples, foretelling of the betrayal that would lead to His death.  He also called Judas out as the one who would betray Him.  Just as a parent gives last-minute instructions and information to his children before departing, Jesus gave the disciples important instructions and information.   Many of the things he said didn’t make sense at the time, but would have significant meaning in the days to come.

It was during this Passover meal that Jesus told the disciples this would be his last meal until the Kingdom of God came.  (Luke 22:18)  He then broke the bread, saying to the disciples:  “This is my body, given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”   Then Jesus took the wine and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you – an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.”   (Luke 22:19-23)   The communion we observe today is based on these instructions from Jesus.

After the Passover meal, Jesus went out to the gardens on the Mount of Olives and began to pray.  “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”   (Luke 22:42)

While most in Jerusalem slept through the night, Jesus spent hours in prayer and agony, knowing of the torturous fate that awaited him.  Although His disciples accompanied Him to the gardens, He spent this time alone with His Father in prayer.   An angel appeared and strengthened Jesus.  (Luke 22:43)  Eventually Judas arrived with Caiaphas and the other religious leaders.  They took Jesus away in the dark of the night to Caiaphas’ home where they held a mock trial for  the purpose of arresting Jesus with a crime that they could deem punishable by death.  These men claimed to be the highest and most respected of the religious leaders, yet they didn’t recognize the Son of God when they literally held Him in their hands!  By the end of the trial, the religious leaders would mock, beat and spit on Jesus. The journey to the cross began.

Bible scriptures telling about the Last Supper and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

  • Matthew chapters 26-28
  • Mark chapters 14-16
  • Luke chapters 22-24
  • John chapters 13-21