Tracing Holy Week: Thursday, The Day Supper Went Very, Very Long

Here are the Bible passages for this moment in history: Matthew 26.17-19; Mark 14.12-16; Luke 22.7-13; and then Matthew 26.20-25; Mark 14.17-21; John 13.2-30; and then Matthew 26.26-30; Mark 14.22-26a; Luke 22.14-30; and then John 13.36-38; Matthew 26.30b-35; Mark 14.26b-31; Luke 22.31-38; and finally Matthew 26.36-46; Mark 14.32-42; Luke 22.39-46. You can read all of the Holy Week portions of the Bible in this document, Tracing Holy Week Through Scripture.

Supper, this Thursday evening, was very long. Remember when you were young and the news of dinner guests was also news that the meal would be long and fun would be short? When guests come the meal becomes an orchestrated event, conformity of manners is life-and-death, new (usually boring) stories will be shared, and family stories (usually awkward) will be retold. Forget about escaping early. When the number of adults around the table increases, minutes become hours. 

All young people, and a few adults, find long meals to be interruptions to ordinary life, which, apparently, only requires a short meal that fills the belly without interrupting other evening events.

The Thursday meal in the Upper Room began with preparations; a room had to be found that could contain all of them together. We suspect a long meal already. Within the room itself, it was not just a meal. It never is. Certainly there would have been an ordinary meal for ordinary sustenance at the end of the day. This would have involved food and drink. But after this, or intermingled, there would have been a ceremonial meal to commemorate the Passover. If Jesus followed the tradition of first century Jews from Judea, which He didn’t, the ordinary meal would come first. And, if He followed the tradition of first century Jews of Judea, the words spoken would be scripted. He improvised the evening. He understands the Passover in Egypt some 1,500 years ago, better than anyone. He is that Lamb.

It was a long evening in the Upper Room.

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