“The Trap is Sprung”
There is a special atmosphere when close friends gather for a meal, at night and in the candlelight, especially when it is a farewell meal. It is ‘Passover,’ the time when Jews remembered how the blood of a lamb smeared over their doorways was a signal for the “angel of death” to pass over their house and spare all its inhabitants. This had happened centuries before during their captivity in Egypt. It was about to happen all over again.
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
They were eating lamb, but the ‘Lamb of God’ was at the head of the table. They were munching fresh bread whilst the ‘Bread of Life’ was there actually sharing the meal with them. They were drinking wine, and the one who was the ‘True Vine’ was preparing to shed his blood.
Before this meal, Jesus has already been ‘sold’ by Judas. During the meal there is a pathetic discussion about which of the disciples was the most important. This must have deeply saddened Jesus. Soon his closest supporters will fall asleep when he needs them the most and then Peter will betray him three times.
During the shutdown, many of us are missing Communion, the breaking and sharing of bread and wine. Communion is a visible symbol of Jesus body and blood broken and shed for us. Could you spend some time this day thinking about what you miss about Communion?
Luke 22:39-46—to be read late at night
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
This is perhaps the most critical moment in this whole life. This is when the elastic almost snapped, when the dam almost gave way, when the humanity of Jesus almost failed. How we feel for him now, crushed, alone and frightened…there in the “garden of tears.”
If you are reading this late at night, then you are probably thinking of bed, but remember that whilst you sleep he is being dragged around, bound and thrust into the limelight of false trials. He is being handled by hard and angry men: he is alone, and is frightened.
Could you stay up a bit later than normal this evening and pray? Could you create a little ‘garden’ somewhere at home, with a plant or flower, where you could stay a little while and spend time in pray, or imagining that scene in the garden?