Tuesday had been an eventful and full day for Jesus and his disciples. It was a day of confrontation, the Olivet Discourse and warnings about the future after which Jesus and the disciples returned to Bethany to stay the night. Wednesday it is believed they rested and looked forward with great anticipation to the Passover Feast. We Christians refer to the Feast of the Passover as the Last Supper and here we note that the disciples going into it had no idea of what the next few days would bring. The events prior to this meal are of great interest. Jesus was a wanted man, the decision had been made, Judas has agreed to betray Jesus, the Chief Priests and the elders of the people have met in the palace of the High Priest Caiaphas and have conspired to arrest Jesus and kill him. They wanted it done quietly and after the Festival because they feared the people would riot. Jesus had the past few days displayed a defiance to those practices and people whose actions were against the will and word of God. Now on this day as Jesus and the disciples prepared for the Passover meal he gave instructions to send some of their number to purchase the necessary food and drink for the meal as well as secure a place for them to have the meal together. Matthew 26:18 ‘Go into the city to such and such a man, and say to him: “The Teacher says, my time is near. I will keep the Passover with my disciples at your house.”
The Passover Feast was the reason that Jesus had come to Jerusalem. While some allowances had been made because the city was so crowded at this time, the feast itself had to be celebrated within the city of Jerusalem. I add this little tidbit to the story because of an earlier statement I made. Jesus’ life was not ruled by circumstances, it was the will of God that led Jesus. There were many who supported Jesus and as we know a member of the ruling council came to Jesus in the dark of the night. Jesus left nothing to chance and it is suggested that a friend in the city itself had been instructed as to what to do when he was approached and told “The Teacher says, my time is near”. He sent those disciples ahead if you will to give a sort of password that would set the preparations in motion. It is fact that the authorities were looking for Jesus and Jesus knew that. He keep a low profile and avoided any confrontation with the authorities. He would join them when all was ready later that evening. Jesus knew that it was time for the Father’s will to be done and he alone knew the will of the Father. The disciples would have no sense as to what was about to happen, for the Passover Meal would become their last supper with Jesus. As they are eating the Passover Meal Jesus begins to speak to them. It is at this point that this meal becomes the Last Supper we read about in the New Testament. One interesting point is the timeline involved here. The Jewish day begins at 6pm. For us that would be Wednesday evening at 6pm. What that means is that on Thursday, the next day they had until 6pm that evening to make the preparations for the meal. Any time after 6pm. Thursday, that is when the guests might come to the table and it would then be the next day, Friday.
I am going to move forward to Matthew 26: 26-30. They sing a hymn, Psalm 136 and then go out to the Mount of Olives. It is at this point that we need to look at the location of the Mount of Olives in the context of these scriptures. The Mount of Olives is more of a hill across the valley from the Old City, separated by the Kidron Valley and part way down that hill toward the old city lies Garden of Gethsemane. It was here in this garden that the gospels of Matthew and Mark identify this place where in his agony he prayed on the night of his arrest before his Crucifixion. After we follow some translations of the word garden we find it to mean a cultivated tract of land that many believe to have been an olive garden. The Greek word Gethsemane comes from a Hebrew word or a similar Aramaic word, Gat Shemanim, meaning, “a press of oils.” It was an olive press and in all probability it was a private place owned by a person or persons in Jerusalem and Jesus most likely had permission given by a benefactor to enter there.The agony of the cross and the gift of salvation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross is the foundation of our Christian faith. Let there be no mistake that without the cross and the empty tomb, life would be just an event in time. It must be said no matter how harsh it may sound, a Christian lives to die for Christ. That Unexpected Gift, the one that is the motivator for all this….Reconciliation.
“Reconciliation, in Christian theology, is an element of salvation that refers to the results of atonement. … John Calvin describes reconciliation as the peace between humanity and God that results from the expiation of religious sin and the appease of God’s wrath.”
Jesus Christ was the Lamb of Atonement, he gave his life to appease the wrath of God because of mankind’s sins. Much has been written about these last three days and much more will be added as to the how, when and where but the words will never capture the reality and joy of the resurrection, we will never know until our time.
The Tomb is Empty
Life is Good