The Last Supper of Jesus
Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper"
Da Vinci's Famous Painting
It took him 18 years to paint the 15x29 foot masterpiece that is regarded as one of the most beloved pieces of all times. "The Last Supper" combines the stories from all of the Gospels to tell the story of Jesus' last moments on earth before the crucifixion. If you've ever seen the painting in person, you'll know how mesmerizing it is! From the finest detail of expressions on the disciples' faces to background elements that you don't notice at first but speak to you upon further examination. The most amazing part of this painting is how everything draws your eye to the center, Jesus' head. As you walk from one corner of the painting to the other, it's as if Jesus' eyes are following your every move!
This famous painting is what we think of when we envision Jesus' Last Supper here on earth. Is it accurate or just some man's interpretation? What does the Bible say?
What was Jesus eating at this Last Supper? We know it was bread and wine. We know he was reclining. If you'd like to be true to history to what He really ate, then you have to understand that Jesus was really eating at a Passover Seder.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover."
When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
Click on photo to enlarge
What is Passover?
Passover is the longest, continually celebrated Jewish feast (over 2000 years) that marks a time of remembrance when God rescued the Jews from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. You know the characters, Moses and Pharaoh, and how Moses demanded "Let my people go!" and how Pharaoh refused. God sent plagues of blood water, locusts, darkness, etc. culminating with the death of the firstborn. When the angel of death came that night to kill all of the firstborn, God told his people to put the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. The lambs sacrificed for this covering had to be male lambs, with no outward imperfections, killed in the prime of their lives. When the angel of death saw the blood on the door posts, it passed over.
The Israelites, now free to leave, had to quickly get out of Egypt. In their haste, they did not have time for their bread to rise, so they made bread without leavening (yeast). A big part of the Passover Seder is this unleavened bread or matzos. In the Bible, yeast is equated to sin (a little yeast corrupts the whole lump Galatians 5:9). The matzos eaten at Passover Seders is also striped and pierced, reminding us of what was done to Jesus. Isaiah 53:5 says He was pierced for our transgressions, and by His wounds we are healed. The bread represents His body, broken for us.
The wine is also a part of the Passover Seder. In the Last Supper, Jesus dips his bread in the same time as Judas, a way of signifying Judas is the one who will betray Jesus. Throughout the Seder meal, many glasses of wine are drank. The Jewish people are always thankful to God for the fruit of the vine. Wine was used as a time of great celebration. Just look at Jesus' first recorded miracle at the wedding where he turned water into wine! The wine represents His blood, shed for us.
While Passover itself is only a one-day feast, it coincides with the Feast of Unleavened Bread which lasts for 7 days. This feast is a time when all Jewish families would scour their homes from top to bottom (spring cleaning), taking great pains to rid their homes of every crumb of bread. Remember, the yeast in bread represents sin. During this Feast of Unleavened Bread, families eat no bread item containing yeast as a commitment to holiness before God. With that being said, my family has traditionally celebrated our Passover Seder on Good Friday. Even though Passover itself is over, we are still in the window of time since the Feast of Unleavened Bread is still going on. Plus, Fridays are a lot easier on our schedule than a weeknight.
Be More Like Jesus
If you'd like to be more like Jesus, then celebrate Passover with a Seder meal. Unsure what it is? Well, it's a dinner where you eat specific food items like apples, horseradish, parsley, salt water, and matzos. During the first part of the meal, you read through an interactive book called a haggadah. If you've ever been to a more traditional type of church that has responsive readings, it's very similar.
The centerpiece of the table is the Seder plate. On it are a shank bone (lamb) , parsley, an egg, salt water, apples, and horseradish. The Seder readings walk you through what each item stands for.
Here are some free links for Haggadahs:
- traditional Jewish in English and Hebrew
- Seder guide
- recipes, guides, haggaddah, and more
- Sephardic traditions and customs for Passover
Celebrate for Yourself
Dates for Passover
Why does the dates for Passover change? Well, the main reason is that it's based on a different calendar, one that is lunar and not solar like ours. This explains why the dates for Easter vary from year to year.
Here's when you can celebrate Passover in the coming years:
- 2013 March 25- April 2
- 2014 April 14-22
- 2015 April 3-11
- 2016 April 22-30
- 2017 April 10-18