A cup. Nothing that people hadn’t seen before, but tonight it meant so much more. A single, solitary cup, sitting in the middle of the table, surrounded by bread – and perhaps some grapes and olives – waiting to be filled. It was common for them to have bread and wine with every meal, they were staples of the time and place, and tonight would be no different in THAT regard. But there, in the middle of the table sat the cup, and He knew the time had come.
And so, at a new table, in a not so familiar place, surrounded by His closest friends, He puts in motion the greatest and yet most misunderstood plan in all of history. He gathers their attention, and reframes the way they would look at this meal, and Him, for the rest of their lives.
Luke 22:14–20 (ESV)
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
My body, broken. My blood, spilt. Do this in remembrance of me. They were STARTING to understand now – this was not an ordinary meal. This trip into Jerusalem would not be like all the others. There would not be some grand escape from danger, nor would Jesus baffle and befuddle his accusers with words from on high. The tone has shifted, not just in the room, but in their lives. Suddenly there are so many questions. A wave of anxiety has overtaken them all. What was going to happen to him? Who was going to do it? What would become of this band of brothers they had grown so used to? Would they be next? You can sense panic in their minds and the questions on their tongues, when suddenly, He speaks again.
Luke 22:21–23 (ESV)
But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.
Anxiety turns to anger. Questions turn to accusations. Who will it be? What were his motivations? What can be done to stop him? At some point Judas slips out, knowing his friend and teacher is not blind to his betrayal. Tempers flare and plates are pushed aside. Perhaps food is thrown or falls to the floor.There are no longer hunger pangs in their stomach, their is pain in their hearts. And maybe, in the midst of it all, even as leave the room to head to the garden, there still sits in the middle of the table, a single, solitary cup, filled with the blood that will soon be poured out for them all.