The day of broken bread

Posted: 24 March, 2016 in My stuff

Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Passover. For the four preceding days he had gone to the temple where he taught in the courtyards, argued with the teachers of the religious law, and spoke some pretty harsh words against the temple priests and the Pharisees. It would appear that on the fifth day, that day of Unleavened Bread, he did not go to the city at all until the end of the day.

The Day of Unleavened Bread was the most important day of the week long festival of Passover. It was a pilgrimage festival, drawing people from all over to Jerusalem. Pilgrim numbers reached into the hundreds of thousands.

During the day lambs were slaughtered in the temple as an offering to God and in preparation for the ‘lamb roast’ meal that evening that is a partial re-enactment of the Passover when God’s angel of death passed over the Israelite slaves but killed the first-born of every family in Egypt. This event was one of the origin myths of the Jewish people.

Men do not normally carry jars of water (think 30 litre vase!). Jesus was protecting his safety and the safety of his friends by keeping his plans for this particular Passover secret. He wanted this Passover to be special.


Luke 22:7 – 38

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

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, 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?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

Last supper - darkWhen the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

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.”

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. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 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. 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. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

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. 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 fulfilment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.



I am struck by the brevity of the story. It’s all over in a few paragraphs. Again this reminds me how earthed Jesus is. He is very here and now. The only future thing he has in mind is that whenever his follower friends do this again that they remember him in terms of this ‘new covenant’ this new deal between God and humanity that he is setting up. I am challenged to me here and now in my faith rather than making it all about some future time and some other place. If is essentially not about going to heaven when I die!

I am also reminded how thick Jesus follower/friends could be. He is talking about being betrayed, suffering, broken bread being his body, and wine being his spilt blood – and betrayal by one of their number! They are arguing about who is the most important among them and who should get the top jobs when jesus takes control of the temple and the country! Again, I am challenged to consider how my selfish motivations (and there are many!) fit into a world where the least and the servant are the most reflective of the character of god. There is a total inversion of the way of the world here – everything is upside-down. How much have I taken that upside-downness into my life, my actions, and my view of the world?

Jesus also speaks to Simon (Peter’s Hebrew name) telling him he will be tested by all that is against and contrary to God. In a conversation that centres around God saving people, he is told he will not be saved from the test. In fact is is hinted that he will fail the test. But then he is charged with the encouragement of others. In a world that consumed with seeking success, Peter is told that his greatest asset will be his failure. How much have I bought into the lie (for that is what it is) that success, that being a winner, that coming out on top, is the most important thing? I need to re-learn and be constantly reminded that love is the most important thing and that loving the least, the lost, the lonely, and the loser is the measure of love in the economy of God.

In many way people expected Jesus to win, that he would come out trumps, defeat his enemies and set up a new ‘kingdom of God’. How little they understood. How much they pushed their agenda, their expectations onto Jesus. With in less than twenty four hours all of their expectation would be shattered.

Burning Bush

  1. Maybe we need a better understanding of what success is and looks like? In my experience it has been within the depths of my brokenness as well as within my greatest joys, that I have had my greatest spiritual growth and felt the deepest Love. It is in the strongest of connections with others (no matter how brief that connection is) that I have felt my greatest ‘success’ Being truly present each moment for each other is I think our greatest gift and what Jesus was maybe doing at this time for his disciples.

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