I’ve been to the dinner theater once in my life. It was a very strange experience to be honest. People acting in front of you, all while you try and eat food you can barely see (because you’re in the dark) and trying to pay attention to them, hear them, and chew all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the allure. I like the theater, and I like eating. Combining the two seems like a win, win. Unfortunately, I think there are just certain things that might sound good in theory, but when realized in actuality, aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Maunday Thursday, is the night Christians celebrate the Last Supper, or the first time Jesus instituted communion with His disciples. Maunday, comes from a latin word that roughly means mandate, or commandment – which is fitting because dinner on this night will include a new one. Jesus has probably had this same meal with these same people on multiple occasions. At least three other times to be sure, but perhaps even more, as bread and wine were staples of their diet. But this time, these elements contain a whole new purpose and Jesus brings a mandate, or command along with them.
“Do this is remembrance of me.”
I can see the disciples faces.
“Wait, what? Remembrance? Is He going somewhere? Jesus are you leaving? Why would we have to remember you? Didn’t you say you’d always be with us? What’s going on?”
Judas of course thinks he knows. His plan to betray Jesus to the High Priests guard will at best land Jesus in prison, and at worst, lead to His death by stoning. Jesus will be taken away, in mere hours from this time – and just as Judas begins to think He has the upper hand….
John 13:21–27 (ESV) – After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly”….So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
Talk about theater. In a matter of moments the tone has shifted from a celebratory meal between friends, to an accusation of impending treason. One of them has left, Jesus is talking about “remembering” Him, and everyone is trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. And then, as if on cue, Peter opens his mouth.
John 13:36–38 (ESV) – Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Dinner in the upper room has turned into death and denial. In a matter of a few short minutes, EVERYTHING the disciples thought they knew has been turned on its head. Instead of “we’re going to overthrow the Romans and restore the nation of Israel…” – reality now feels more like, “I’ve left everything I knew and loved to follow this man I thought was the One, and now he’s talking about dying?” These are the days of our lives. Literally.
Dinner is over, and the remaining 12 are out the door, to a garden to pray. The night is upon them now, and everything is more dramatic in the dark. Soon there will be tears of anguish sweating of blood, guards with torches, and the kiss of betrayal from the lips of a friend. Swords will be drawn, ears will hit the ground, miracles will happen, and in the end Jesus will be arrested and they’ll all have run away.
No more food. No more laughter. No more stories. No more family. Just, no more. The curtain is falling. Act one is over. But the real drama is still yet to come.