The Passover Meal Hosted by the Lamb - Mark 14:12-26
In Exodus we have the account of God delivering His people from slavery in Egypt. As an act of judgment God announced that the firstborn son of every family and flock in Egypt would be killed – but He made a way of safety for His people. He instructed them to kill a lamb and put the lamb’s blood on the doorpost of their home. Every home that was covered with the blood of a lamb would be passed over.
While God’s act of salvation was extraordinary, He knew the people would still be quick to forget. For this reason, He commanded them to keep an annual feast. This feast, which involved sacrificing a lamb, would be a means of remembering God’s salvation in the past and anticipating His future salvation. And it’s a feast that was still held every year during the time of Jesus. Each year His parents would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Luke 2:41).
It’s of no small significance that on the night before His death Jesus celebrates a Passover meal with His disciples. During that meal Jesus demonstrates His sovereignty, announces His death, institutes a new meal for people of God and promises a future meal that’s still to come.
The Preparations for the Meal (14:12-16)
- Securing a place – Because the Passover meal was to be eaten in Jerusalem the disciples knew they would need a place. Jesus gives two of the disciples detailed instructions on how to locate a place that would be ready and waiting for their use.
- A familiar scenario – The sending of the two disciples into Jerusalem is very similar to the how Jesus sent two of His disciples into Jerusalem for a colt just prior to His entrance on Palm Sunday (11:1-11). Each of these events highlights the fact that Jesus is in complete control.
- The unthwartable plan of God – The way Jesus reveals His plan for the Passover meal is yet another reminder that Jesus is always working out His perfect plan. The next day Jesus would be crucified; the cross was coming, but it wouldn’t come until Christ had done everything He had purposed. As His people we can find great comfort in knowing that nothing catches God by surprise. He knows all, sees all and governs all, which means we can trust Him with our lives.
The Presence of a Traitor at the Meal (14:17-21)
- The unthwartable plan of God, continued – During the Passover meal Jesus makes an unbelievable announcement. In announcing His betrayal Jesus again demonstrates that nothing can thwart His plan.
- Betrayed by a friend – By making this announcement at this meal Jesus highlights the close fellowship He shared with the one who would betray Him (Psalm 41:8-13). While this kind of betrayal seems shocking to us, Jesus is not surprised. He continues walking in full knowledge and complete control of the situation.
- Sovereignty and responsibility – This is a paradox that the Scriptures leave unresolved. God planned and used the betrayal of Jesus and yet Judas acted according to His will and is held responsible. God is always sovereign and people are always responsible (Acts 4:27-28).
- An important warning – Every believer should consider the betrayal of Jesus as a warning. Proximity and familiarity with Christ are not the same as true faith. We must always keep careful watch on our hearts.
The Announcement of a New Meal (14:22-24)
- Redefining the Meal – The disciples knew the liturgy of the Passover meal and recognized it as being all about the salvation of God. It may have seemed odd for Jesus to suddenly turn the attention of the meal on Himself – yet this is exactly what He did. The purpose of this meal was always to look backward in remembrance of the first exodus and the saving work of God. But now Jesus is announcing a new exodus for the people of God – through His body and blood.
- A New Covenant – The covenant that God made with His people after the exodus was ratified with blood. And the blood of animals was a staple in the Old Covenant system. But during this meal Jesus announces a true and final sacrifice, a shedding of blood, through which a New Covenant would be established (Jeramiah 31:31-34)
- A Newly Instituted Meal – With the New Covenant came a new meal. The people of God no longer celebrate Passover – instead we share of the Lord’s Supper.
The Promise of a Future Meal (14:25-26) –
- Before the meal ended Jesus announced that this would be His last time to drink of the cup with His disciples, at least for now. But He also shared that there would be a time when they (and we) would all drink together again. There is a future meal still to come when all who believe will eat, drink and feast with the risen Lamb (Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 19:6-9).