Reading: Luke 22:7-38 (NIV)
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. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That’s enough!” he replied.
As we move into this week that culminates in Good Friday and Eastesr we begin with Luke's telling of Jesus and and his disciples in the "upper room" for this Passover ("Last Supper") meal.
This meal is very much like the meals we participate in: a place / room for the meal, the preparations made (verses 7-13), the food and drink (verse 17-20), the conversations and even arguments over the silliest things and Jesus' rebuking of his disciples (verses 24-30).
One thing that is different about this meal is the perspective Jesus has. He knows this is his last meal before he dies (verses 15-16). Jesus knows that he will be betrayed (verses 21-22). He knows what is going to happen to him. He even knows that Peter will deny him: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat...I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (verses 31,34).
But, even though Jesus knows this about Peter--his disciple, his friend--Jesus does not scold him or speak badly of him or refuse to eat with him.
Rather Jesus says that he will be praying for Peter: "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (verse 32).
Jesus is praying in advance for his friend who will deny him. Jesus is praying Peter's "faith may not fail" (a prayer we all need).
And, amazingly!, Jesus also know that the denial will not be the end of Peter and their relationship. "When [not if!] you have turned back, strenghten your brothers" (verse 32).
This meal and all that is going on in it reveals to us the amazing strength and courage of Jesus but also, especially in his conversation with Peter, shows us the amaing grace, love and mercy of Jesus.