Jesus’ Life and Ministry
The Memorial Supper
AFTER Jesus washes his apostles’ feet, he quotes the scripture at Psalm 41:9, saying: “He that used to feed on my bread has lifted up his heel against me.” Then, becoming troubled in spirit, he explains: “One of you will betray me.”
The apostles begin to grieve and say to Jesus one by one: “It is not I, is it?” Even Judas Iscariot joins in asking. John, who is lying next to Jesus at the table, leans back on Jesus’ breast and asks: “Lord, who is it?”
“It is one of the twelve, who is dipping with me into the common bowl,” Jesus answers. “True, the Son of man is going away, just as it is written concerning him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been finer for that man if he had not been born.” After that, Satan again enters Judas, taking advantage of the opening in his heart, which has become wicked. Later that night, Jesus fittingly calls Judas “the son of destruction.”
Jesus now tells Judas: “What you are doing get done more quickly.” None of the other apostles understand what Jesus means. Some imagine that since Judas is holding the money box, Jesus is telling him: “Buy what things we need for the festival,” or that he should go and give something to the poor.
After Judas leaves, Jesus introduces an entirely new celebration, or commemoration, with his faithful apostles. He takes a loaf, says a prayer of thanks, breaks it, and gives it to them, saying: “Take, eat.” He explains: “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”
When each has eaten of the bread, Jesus takes a cup of wine, evidently the fourth cup used in the Passover service. He also says a prayer of thanks over it, passes it to them, asks them to drink from it, and states: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.”
So this is, in fact, a memorial of Jesus’ death. Each year on Nisan 14 it is to be repeated, as Jesus says, in remembrance of him. It will call to the memory of the celebrants what Jesus and his heavenly Father have done to provide escape for humankind from the condemnation of death. For the Jews who become Christ’s followers, the celebration will replace the Passover.
The new covenant, which is made operative by Jesus’ shed blood, replaces the old Law covenant. It is mediated by Jesus Christ between two parties—on the one hand, Jehovah God, and on the other, 144,000 spirit-begotten Christians. Besides providing for the forgiveness of sins, the covenant allows for the formation of a heavenly nation of king-priests. Matthew 26:21-29; Mark 14:18-25; Luke 22:19-23; John 13:18-30; 17:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7.
◆ What Bible prophecy does Jesus quote regarding a companion, and what application does he make of it?
◆ Why do the apostles become deeply grieved, and what does each of them ask?
◆ What does Jesus tell Judas to do, but how do the other apostles interpret these instructions?
◆ What celebration does Jesus introduce after Judas leaves, and what purpose does it serve?
◆ Who are the parties to the new covenant, and what does the covenant accomplish?