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Directors’ Corner

News, writings and thoughts from TFI Directors

  • Jesus—His Life and Message: The Passover

    As the day of Passover was approaching, Jesus’ disciples asked Him what arrangements should be made for the Passover meal. Meanwhile, in the days preceding the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, the chief priests, the elders of the people, and the scribes were seeking to quietly arrest Jesus in order to put Him to death.

    On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”1 

    While originally the Passover celebration was a one-day festival, followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, by the first century the two had basically merged into a single festival. This can be seen in the Gospel of Mark, where we read: On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” Technically, the sacrificing of the lamb was done on Passover, before the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

    In the Gospel of Luke, we read: Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”2 Peter and John were instructed to make preparations for the Passover meal. The Gospel of Luke often mentions Peter and John together.3

    In each of the synoptic Gospels,4 the disciples inquired as to where they were to prepare and eat the Passover meal. In the book of Matthew, we read:

    He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”5 

    The Gospel of Luke tells us:

    They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’”6

    In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus told the two disciples that they should follow the man who was carrying a jar of water “and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.”7

    The account in the Gospel of Mark seems to indicate that Jesus was known to the owner of the house which contained the upper room, and that prior arrangements had been made with the owner to use the room. Obtaining a large room at the last minute during one of the most crowded nights of the year would have been difficult. However, Jesus referred to the room as my guest room, so it is possible that the use of the room was prearranged.

    And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.8

    This upper room was large as well as furnished and ready. This means that it had rugs, carpets, cushions, and couches for reclining as well as short tables for the food. The only thing that was missing was the food, which the two disciples were to prepare there.

    The food for this meal would have included the Passover lamb, which would have been roasted over a fire, unleavened bread, a bowl of salt water, a bowl of bitter herbs, a fruit puree or haroseth (a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, wine, and spices), and enough wine for each participant to drink four cups in celebration of God’s four blessings in Exodus 6:6–7.9 These verses from Exodus state: Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”10

    When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”11

    Normally, meals were eaten at a table with chairs. Reclining on couches to eat a meal indicates that this was a festive meal, which a Passover meal would be. However, the mood changed when Jesus informed them that one of those at the table was going to betray Him.

    They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me.”12

    The disciples were shocked and saddened to hear this. The Greek text translated as “Is it I?” expects a negative answer, so that it can be understood as meaning “surely it is not me, is it?” Jesus didn’t indicate specifically who would betray Him. In the Gospel of Matthew we read: Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”13 However, it is assumed that Judas asked Jesus this question privately and that it was not heard by the other disciples. In the Gospel of John, reference is made to one of the disciples asking Jesus who it is, which will be addressed in an upcoming article.

    After stating that it would be one of the twelve who would betray Him, Jesus said:

    “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”14 

    Jesus pointed out that the events which were to come would happen, according to Scripture. However, He added a condemnation for Judas, the one who would betray Him.

    At that point of the meal we’re told that

    As they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.”15

    In the Gospel of Luke we read, “This is my body, which is given for you.”16 In 1 Corinthians, where the apostle Paul gives an account of Jesus’ Last Supper (written before the Gospel accounts), we read that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”17 Jesus’ action was a prophetic sign which was meant to foreshadow what awaited Him; just as the bread was broken, so would His body be broken.

    And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”18

    After partaking of the bread, Jesus took a cup filled with wine and gave thanks. This thanksgiving was likely directed to God. It is from this verse that we get the name which is often used for communion, the Eucharist. The Greek word ekcheō means to pour out; thus the name Eucharist reflects the shedding, or pouring out, of Jesus’ blood.

    Other names which are used in the New Testament for the Eucharist are:

    The breaking of bread. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42). And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46). (See also Acts 20:7, 11.)

    The table of the Lord. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21).

    Communion. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16 KJV).

    The Lord’s Supper. When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat (1 Corinthians 11:20).

    Jesus then said:

    “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”19 

    Commentators have a wide variety of opinions about the meaning of this verse, and because there are so many differing opinions, I thought it best not to comment on it, other than to include a quote from one author.

    Each New Testament account of the Last Supper involves a positive statement concerning the future. Thus the celebration of the Lord’s Supper should not be simply a sorrowful, backward recollection of Jesus’ suffering and death, but should also conclude with a hopeful look forward to and joyous anticipation of that glorious day when believers share with Jesus the “new” wine/food of the messianic banquet.20


    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

    General Bibliography

    Bailey, Kenneth E. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

    Biven, David. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. Holland: En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007.

    Bock, Darrell L. Jesus According to Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51–24:53. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1996.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

    Carson, D. A. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987.

    Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus’ Jewishness, Exploring the Place of Jesus Within Early Judaism. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.

    Chilton, Bruce, and Craig A. Evans, eds. Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Boston: Brill Academic, 1999.

    Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.

    Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.

    Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

    Evans, Craig A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27–16:20. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000.

    Evans, Craig A., and N. T. Wright. Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.

    Flusser, David. Jesus. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1998.

    Flusser, David, and R. Steven Notely. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.

    Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

    Green, Joel B., and Scot McKnight, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

    Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

    Guelich, Robert A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 1–8:26. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jesus and the Message of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

    Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. Norwich: SCM Press, 1977.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.

    Lewis, Gordon R., and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

    Manson, T. W. The Sayings of Jesus. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957.

    Manson, T. W. The Teaching of Jesus. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.

    McKnight, Scot. Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

    Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

    Milne, Bruce. The Message of John. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

    Morris, Leon. Luke. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

    Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1960.

    Pentecost, J. Dwight. The Words & Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

    Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

    Sheen, Fulton J. Life of Christ. New York: Doubleday, 1958.

    Spangler, Ann, and Lois Tverberg. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

    Stassen, Glen H., and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.

    Stein, Robert H. Jesus the Messiah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Stein, Robert H. Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

    Stein, Robert H. The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.

    Stein, Robert H. The New American Commentary: Luke. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1992.

    Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978.

    Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

    Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

    Wood, D. R. W., I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman, eds. New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. After You Believe. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.

    Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone, Part 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

    Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

    Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

    Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1995.

    1 Matthew 26:17. See also Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7.

    2 Luke 22:7–8.

    3 Luke 8:51, 9:28; Acts 1:13; 3:1–4; 4:13, 19; 8:14.

    4 Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

    5 Matthew 26:18.

    6 Luke 22:9–13.

    7 Mark 14:14–15.

    8 Mark 14:16.

    9 Stein, Mark, 647.

    10 Exodus 6:6–7.

    11 Mark 14:17–18.

    12 Mark 14:19–20.

    13 Matthew 26:25.

    14 Mark 14:21.

    15 Mark 14:22.

    16 Luke 22:19.

    17 1 Corinthians 11:23–24.

    18 Mark 14:23–24.

    19 Mark 14:25.

    20 Stein, Mark, 653.


  • Apr 20 Jesus—His Life and Message: Moving Toward His Passion and Death
  • Apr 13 Jesus—His Life and Message: The End of His Public Ministry
  • Apr 10 The Way He Sees You
  • Apr 6 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Greeks
  • Mar 30 Easter Meditations
  • Mar 23 Jesus—His Life and Message: Final Judgment by the Son of Man
  • Mar 16 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Coming of the Son of Man (Part 2)
  • Mar 9 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Coming of the Son of Man (Part 1)
  • Mar 2 Jesus—His Life and Message: Prediction About the Temple (Part 3)


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