Can you remember what you ate on Easter, 70 years ago? This is the challenge that the men in the New Testament, were faced with. They were at least 100 years old, when they wrote their books. For most people, the memory starts to diminish after a certain age. What can be recalled years later? The answer is only bits and pieces of an experience that a person perceived as profound, impactful, and emotionally moving. Each person at an event, social gathering, or private engagement has a unique perspective of the experience. Let’s examine the events of the Last Supper which Jesus desired with great tenacity, to share, a Passover meal with His disciples, over 2,000 years ago.
Did Jesus eat a feast before being betrayed by one of His chosen disciples? The answer is no, Jesus had only a few small dried pieces of fish, a cup of sour vinegar, and maybe some dried dates.
Mark remembers that Jesus said, ‘the Passover meal is prepared for us’. Luke remembers that Jesus said, ‘make the Passover meal for us.’ The disciples forgot which one was in charge of the Passover meal because, Mark wrote in verse 14:17, the twelve disciples were with Jesus in the evening, and all twelve arrived at the same time.
Twelve hungry men can eat a huge amount of food. How could two men prepare a Passover meal for twelve hungry men? Before I can answer this question, we need to ask, ‘what type of traditional food was served for a Passover meal?’ Let’s read through the scriptures to find the answer.
In Exodus 12:4, a mature lamb was to be prepared. However, in Egypt, they never had the opportunity to prepare the Passover lamb because they were forced out of the country (see Exodus 12:34). In Joshua 5:10, they ate old corn, cakes without leaven, and parched corn. In 2 Kings 23:22 we are informed that the Passover feast on that day was impressive. They had never seen a Passover observed this way. The Passovers which the Judges of Israel, the Kings of Israel, and the Kings of Judah, held, were pale in comparison to this Passover. 2 Chronicles 30:5 – 26, they had not observed the Passover regularly for many years. They decided to proclaim a decree throughout all Israel, to come to Jerusalem to honor the Passover. The feast continued for fourteen days, and they killed two thousand bullocks, and seventeen thousand sheep. There had never been any Passover as magnificent as this one. The only event that came close was the one that King Solomon held in 1 Kings 8:63. In 2 Chronicles 35:7 the preparation for the Passover consisted of thirty thousand lambs and goats, three thousand bullocks, seven thousand six hundred cattle, and three thousand five hundred oxen. This Passover was the greatest one, the only Passovers that exceeded this one was when Samuel presided as prophet in the territory of Israel. In Ezra 6:19 they observed the vigil of the Passover, while in captivity. In Ezekiel 45:24, a ram, and oil was added to the Passover menu.
As we can see, the traditional Passover vigil became amendable as time moved on. As Jesus matured, He no longer practiced the Jewish custom. Jesus knew that His finest hour was quickly approaching. He had everyone sit down to an empty sheet, which was knit, and had a tied knot at each of the four corners.
What happened to the Passover meal that the two disciples prepared? The answer is, the disciples didn’t know how to prepare a fish sandwich, let alone a full five course meal for 12 hungry disciples. When they went to the large upper room, they found a few fragments of fish, some dried pieces of bread, dried dates, and a jug of sour vinegar.
Jesus didn’t bless the food that He had. Jesus blessed the food that He didn’t have. He didn’t give thanks for the food that He had, He gave thanks for the food that He didn’t have. Then Jesus being hungry, sang a hymn, (see Matthew 26:30).
Today in Christian America, we sit down to a table full of food, and bless what we have. We give thanks for the food that we can not finish, and waste what is left over.
Do you see the irony in this?