Matthew 26:20-21 (The Different Gospel Emphases of the Last Passover)

Recall that Jesus had directed Peter and John to prepare the Passover for them on Wednesday at a location in the city that could well have been at the home of John Mark, whose gospel the early church associated with Peter’s teaching (1Pe 5:13).  What evening then was it that is described in Mat 26:20?  Although it was still Nissan 14 (the day the Passover Lamb was slain) as we reckon dates from midnight to midnight, according to Jewish understanding, what date would Wednesday evening after sunset have been reckoned, and with it, the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread?  Cf. Gen 1:5, etc…, Exo 12:6,18, Lev 23:5-6.  For the Jewish leaders who reckoned the month to start a day later based on their sighting of the new moon, what date would it have been?

What does the Scripture mean that Jesus was reclining with the twelve?  Note in that culture at that time people did not sit at a table to eat as we do, but reclined on their left side with their head next to a low table that held the food and their feet away from the table.  Which of the disciples was reclining directly in front of Jesus, right in His bosom, and who was evidently very close and perhaps right in front of that one?  See Joh 13:23-25.

Whereas John writing much later emphasized Jesus washing the feet of the disciples at this meal (Joh 13:3-17), and Luke writing to established Gentile churches emphasized the institution of Lord’s Supper (Luk 22:14-20), what did Matthew and Mark who wrote earlier emphasize happened that evening at Jesus’ last Passover?  See Mat 26:21-25, Mar 14:18-21.  Besides continuing the narrative of the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion, what does their emphasis also communicate about the incredulity the apostles felt that one of their own would betray Jesus?  What does their emphasis also say about the need they felt to express that betrayal, perhaps as an apologetic to the unbelieving Jews who would have argued that if Jesus were truly the Messiah, surely He would not have been betrayed by one of His own?  Cf. Mat 27:3-4.  Because of the manifold temptations from the world to man’s fallen nature, what does Jesus’ betrayal by Judas remind us about the danger true saints have always had to contend with even from those who are within their ranks whom they would not otherwise have reason to suspect, and who might even be counted among those closest to them?  Cf. 2Sa 15:6,12, Psa 41:9, 55:12-14, Jer 9:4-9, 20:10, Mic 7:5-6, Mat 10:21,34-36, 24:10, Luk 12:52-53, 2Co 11:26, 2Ti 1:15, 4:10,16.  What does this remind us about the sinfulness of sin and its temptation to our fallen nature that is able to subtly deceive even those who are counted among the righteous followers of Christ to betray others for the sake of sordid gain?  Cf. Phil 3:18, 1Ti 6:10, Tit 1:7,11, 1Pe 5:2.  What does it also remind us about the power of God’s truth to sift even those counted among the righteous out of God’s kingdom according to the innermost intentions of their heart?  See 1Ch 28:9, Heb 4:12-13; cf. Mat 22:11-14.  What repeated command of Christ is it that makes God’s grace effectual in our lives to guard us from falling prey to such temptations?  See Mat 6:9,13, Luk 22:40,46.

What is the significance that it was while they were eating that Jesus predicted that one of them would betray Him (Mat 26:21)?  Notice that especially in that culture, to eat with another was to be in close communion with him, and to betray that friendship was one of the most grievous sins one could commit against another, akin to violating a covenant.  Although Matthew and Mark describe Jesus’ announcement of His betrayal before describing the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and it is clear that at some point Judas left them (Joh 13:30), is it the case that Judas was not there when Jesus established the new covenant in His blood?  See Luk 22:20-23, and notice that both events are described as happening “while they were eating”, Mat 26:21,26.  Is it possible that even today people could appear to be in close communion with the Lord, even eating at His table and partaking of His spiritual food, but then betray Him by their actions?  See Luk 13:26-27, 1Co 11:23-27, Tit 1:16.