Jesus knew what was about to unfold. He sensed death and darkness closing in upon Him, yet He did not seclude Himself in preparation. Rather, the Lord chose to spend the final fleeting hours with His friends around a table flowing with bread, wine, and spiritual significance. Jesus wanted to be close to those whom “He loved … to the end” (John 13:1).
The apostle Luke takes care to point out that Jesus and His disciples gathered in the upper room to celebrate the Passover. There, they shared a meal known as the Seder, whose liturgy and symbolic foods recall how God liberated Israel from bondage in Egypt, crushed Pharaoh’s armies, and cared for the former slaves in the wilderness until they arrived in the land He’d prepared as their home. Every Passover at the shared meal, Jewish families retold the grand story of God’s provision and rescue—a reminder that God was not finished with them, that He would restore and spiritually heal their people yet again.
Jesus sensed death and darkness closing in upon Him, and chose to spend the final hours with His friends.
Given this, Jesus’ meal with His disciples carried all these echoes of Israel’s history and stirred again their tenacious faith in the guarantee of God’s promises. In the days ahead, those men would face despondency and confusion. Stung by the horror of the cross, they would quake with fear and outrage. They’d grasp for hope, clinging to any possibility that the story Jesus had begun was not finished. But all this travail was still to come. For now, Jesus ate and drank with the disciples and tried to explain to His perplexed friends how He would soon pour out His very body and life for their healing.
Offering this cup and broken bread, Jesus knew that His death would enact what the prophet Isaiah foretold—that it would require His wounds if any of us were ever to be healed (Isa. 53:5). Though the disciples could not comprehend the meaning of His words at the time, our Savior presented a promise to die and then to rise from the dead for them, for all of us who would believe it.
by Winn Collier