The Chronological Gospel –

Holy Week: Thursday Part 1,
Jesus' Celebration of the Passover

Mark 14:12a, Luke 22:8-13, Preparations for the Passover
Mark 14:17, John 13:1, 3, Luke 22:14b-16, Luke 22:24, John 13:4-16, Luke 22:25-30, John 13:18-20, Jesus washes the disciples' feet.
John 13:2, John 13:21b, Mark 14:18c-21, John 13:22, Luke 22:23, John 13:23-26, Matthew 26:25, John 13:27-30, Jesus reveals that he knows of his betrayal.
John 13:31-32, Matthew 26:26-29, Jesus institutes the rite of Communion.

More of The Chronological Gospel

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The Last Supper, by Gustave Dore. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Mark 14:12a, Luke 22:8-13, Preparations for the Passover (9/15/14)

I mentioned earlier that each of the four gospel writers had his own purpose and point of view in writing, and none of the four purposes was to give us an exact chronology of events. Consequently, a lot of ink has been spilled on an apparent contradiction between Mark (and therefore Matthew and Luke) and John about what day of the week the Last Supper was eaten and the crucifixion took place. Remember that Jewish days go from sundown to sundown, not midnight to midnight.

Mark says clearly in Mark 14:12 that Jesus had his disciples prepare the Passover – the Christian Last Supper – on preparation day, which actually makes a lot of sense and would have put the Last Supper on the first day of Passover, i.e., after sundown, when preparation day was over and the Passover meal should have been eaten. John, in (apparent) contrast, says in John 19:31 that Jesus was taken down from the cross before sundown on preparation day. This also makes a lot of sense, since it has the Lamb of God slain on preparation day, but it puts the Last Supper one day earlier, before Passover actually started.

Now, allowing for the fact that I don’t know, and neither do you, here’s a suggestion. John adds that the day after the crucifixion was a special Sabbath. What if one of the preparation days was for the beginning of Passover, and the other preparation day was for the regular weekly Sabbath? No scholar has ever figured this out, so you can think whatever you want to. In this study we’re going with Dr. Daniel’s chronology, which sort of ignores the problem altogether. No matter what you or I decide, it isn’t worth breaking communion over.

Mark 14:17, John 13:1, 3, Luke 22:14b-16, Luke 22:24, John 13:4-16, Luke 22:25-30, John 13:18-20, Jesus washes the disciples' feet. (9/16/14)

We’ve always known that Jesus washed the disciple’s feet as an object lesson. While they were arguing about which one of them was most important, he – their teacher and master – took the part of the lowliest servant. Reading this carefully again, I noticed (probably for the first time ever) that he also washed Judas’ feet before he reminded them that he was their teacher and master. He went on to say explicitly that he knew he would be betrayed by someone at the table, whose feet he had just washed! There was a special component of the object lesson just for Judas.

John 13:2, John 13:21b, Mark 14:18c-21, John 13:22, Luke 22:23, John 13:23-26, Matthew 26:25, John 13:27-30, Jesus reveals that he knows of his betrayal. (9/17/14)

Dr. Daniel heads this section, “Jesus makes a final unsuccessful appeal to Judas, by intimating that he is aware of his intentions.” When Jesus said, “one of you will betray me,” every disciple asked, “It isn’t me, is it?” The form of the question expects Jesus to answer, “No.” Judas used exactly the same words as the other disciples, “It isn’t me, is it?” Jesus answers him, “You said,” or as we would say, “You said it, not me.”* But, in contrast to most translations, what Judas had said was, “It isn’t me, is it?” So when I saw Dr. Daniels headline for this section, I was struck by his excellent insight: Jesus didn’t say to Judas, “Yes – do it.” He said, “You say it isn’t you. So what’s your plan?”

* Note that Weymouth has, “It is you.” Lots of translations have this, but a strict reading of the Greek can go either way. I think we need to read it in the context of the question, which expects Jesus to say no.

John 13:31-32, Matthew 26:26-29, Jesus institutes the rite of Communion. (9/18/14)

Passover is the most ancient of the Jewish holidays (Exodus 12 – 13); it celebrates both God’s passing over Jewish families when the firstborn of Egypt died and the speed with which God removed them from Egypt. They left so suddenly that their bread didn’t have time to rise, which is signified by the eating of unleavened bread for the entire week of the holiday. So when Jesus held up the bread and said, “this is my body,” the disciples’ eyes must have popped open! They knew the ritual, and this wasn’t it.

Jesus’ followers usually call this new ritual the rite of communion, the Eucharist, or the Lord’s supper. We may disagree about unimportant details – juice or wine, weekly or quarterly, transubstantiation or consubstantiation – but we all agree that Jesus established it, and nearly all Christians continue to celebrate it together. God grant that eventually all Christians will be in communion with each other!

More of The Chronological Gospel

Birth Announcements and Early Lives of Jesus and John the Baptist
Early Ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist
Jesus’ Early Ministry
Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
Sabbath Controversies
The Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Plain
John the Baptist
Signs and Parables
Miracles and Mission Trips
Bread of Life
Miracles and Meanings
Transfiguration and Teachings
To Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles
Some Results of Luke’s Research
Light
More of Luke’s Research
On the Road Again
The Raising of Lazarus
Holy Week: Palm Sunday and Monday
Holy Week: Tuesday, Parables and Questions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 1, Discussions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 2, Be Ready!
Holy Week: Thursday Part 1, Jesus' Celebration of the Passover
Holy Week: Thursday Part 2, Jesus' Farewell Discourse
Holy Week: Friday Part 1, Jesus' Arrest and Two Informal Trials
Holy Week: Friday Part 2, More Trials
Holy Week: Friday, Part 3, and Saturday, Jesus' Death and Burial
The Empty Tomb
Final Appearances of Jesus Prior to Pentecost

Copyright 2014 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. "The Last Supper," by Gustave Doré, is from the Gartin family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter. Scripture readings are from the Weymouth New Testament (1912); caps indicate quotations from the Old Testament. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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