Jesus' Last Meal: A Maundy Thursday Reflection

The Last Supper by Jacopo Bassano, 1542
You’ve heard it called by many names:
The Last Supper.
The Lord’s Table.
The Holy Mass.

But it's a meal that Jesus would have simply called "the Passover."

My first experience with the Passover was during my junior year in college, I had decided to fast for a couple of days before Easter as a way of mourning the sadness of Jesus’ death. So I fasted Good Friday and I fasted Saturday morning and afternoon and then my roommate invited me to a Passover Seder. When I stared at him blankly he graciously reminded me that the Passover was the meal that Jews ate every year to remember their last night in slavery, the night of the 10th plague, when all the first born sons of Egypt died, but the Lord passed over the houses with the blood of a lamb on their doorposts and I thought, “This is great, I can break my fast early, and avoid feeling guilty because its a religious meal!”

So there I was on Saturday night standing around a table, because the Passover was originally celebrated standing, and I haven’t eaten in 48 hours and I’m just dying for a good hamburger or some lasagna but what I saw on the table was all kinds of funny looking and funny smelling foods.

The host filled all of our glasses with wine and we passed around several foods that were symbolic of our slavery. We dipped parsley in salt water to remind us of our sorrow and tears. We scooped enough horseradish onto unleavened bread that it brought tears to our eyes, like the tears our forefathers cried in Egypt, we ate this kind of apple sauce with raisins that was reminiscent of the mortar with which we built.

And I’ll be honest by this point, my inner biblical history nerd had emerged and I was really getting into it.

And then the host said it was time for the second cup, I'm thinking, “Second cup? I’ve hardly touched my first cup, shoot, I must have been so caught up in the moment that I have fallen behind!” so I did something that seemed reasonable at the time, but now I can only attribute to having not eaten anything for 48 hours: I grabbed my cup and pounded the whole thing. Before I even put the glass down I knew I had experienced a significant lapse of judgment. As I struggled to keep my balance and not spill anything, I was saying to myself, “I don’t think this is the Holy Spirit I’m feeling.”

Well, I made it through the night and despite the mishap, honestly, the whole experience made me curious about the significance of these ritual cups of wine.

In the next post, I'll tell you about the first one, and then another each post to follow.
You can watch the video of this sermon here.

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