Festival of the Unleavened Bread
It was the Festival of the Unleavened bread in Jerusalem and there were tons of people in the city excited about celebrating this special Passover meal. Jesus looked at his disciples and said, you know we need to find a place to celebrate the Passover meal.
When the disciples and Jesus entered the Upper Room they would have found the room already prepared to celebrate the Passover Meal. Tables would be low to the ground in the shape of a squared off “U.”
In this particular shape it would have been custom for the disciples to lean on their left elbow and eat with there right hand. Because we know that John reclined in Jesus’ bosom…weird, we know that he would have sat at the right hand of the father. In our Western culture, this is hard to imagine, but if you realize the way they ate, this wouldn’t have been unusual cause it’s the only way you could actually talk to someone at the table.
But where did Jesus sit? We would think in this setting that he would be at the head of the table or right in the middle. This is actually wrong. Da Vinci in his depiction got this fact wrong and single handedly ruined our understanding of this critical event. Jesus would have sat at the far left side of the table, at the seat of honor. To his right would have been the youngest disciple to ensure that the young disciple wouldn’t miss anything and the Rabbi could use the opportunity to teach his young student.
But the question becomes now, who would have sat on his left? The seat to the left of the guest of honor was the seat of trust and confidence. It actually would have been even more honorable then the seat to the right. Because of the way people would have sat the seat on the left symbolically would have been a seat to represent that the person in that seat would have the guest of honors back, no matter what.
“Am I the One, Lord?”
Jesus is sitting with his disciples walking through all the ritual of the Passover meal, retelling the story of the Exodus out of Egypt. He would have been passionately helping the disciples remember that because of the blood on the doorpost the angel of death Passed Over the homes of the Israelites. As He’s saying all this, he stops and says something interesting, peculiar really, He says, (v. 21) “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
“This bowl…” The particular bowl Jesus was referring to was the one sitting between Jesus and Judas. There would have been no confusion as to who Jesus was referencing, it was the bowl shared with the person sitting in the seat of trust.
I’m Doing This For You
Jesus continued with the Passover meal, even after exposing Judas as the betrayer, he offered him the same promise he offered to every other disciple. No matter what, “I will always be there for you.” He said to Judas, “this is the new covenant that I make with you.”
How often in our own lives do we realize that we truly don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness, but he gives it to us anyway? Are you like me, do you realize sometimes that we are seated at place around his table that we don’t belong? That’s the beauty of what God was communicating to the world through Jesus… I’m doing this for you…
You don’t deserve this, but I love you so much that
He invites us to sit at the table, the table of forgiveness, the table of mercy, the table of redemption. The table of, “I know you’re going to betray me, but I’m doing this for you.”