For Christians the Passover meal Jesus celebrated with apostles on Thursday before his crucifixion is called the Last Supper. The guest room where it was held is named the Upper Room. Area maps showed that the Upper Room was south of the Temple near the Gihon Spring. A path led from the Upper Room through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. The date for the Passover meal in year 33 was Thursday, April 22.
For Jews the Passover meal celebrated the Death Angel passing over (not killing) Jews in Egypt when all first-born Egyptians including livestock were killed. Subsequent to Passover, the Egyptian pharaoh allowed Jews to leave Egypt. Thereafter, Jews celebrated a Passover meal in their homes. This meal was named “Seder.”
In the Upper Room, Jesus humbled himself and washed his apostles’ feet to include the feet of Judas. Later that evening Judas betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders. When Jesus washed his apostles’ feet, he demonstrated servant leadership.
At the Passover meal when Jesus offered the Passover bread and the third cup of Passover wine, he initiated a new Christian ritual — Holy Eucharist (Communion, the Lord’s Supper). The bread and wine symbolized Jesus’s body which would be broken and his blood which would be shed for mankind. In many Christian churches, the Eucharist is offered every week to congregates as a memorial of Jesus’s sacrifice. Equally important, Eucharist gives Christians strength to follow Jesus’s commandments.
Jesus was a Jew as were his apostles including almost all Bible writers. 21st century Christians should never forget our origins and what we owe Jews and the Jewish faith. We must love and support Jews to include the nation of Israel.
At the same time that Christians love and support Jews, they we must love all of mankind. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you that you love one another.”
In some Christian religious denominations, the Thursday when the Last Supper was held is named Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Great Thursday. In Latin, the language of the early church, the word “maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum which means “command.” Importantly, Holy Communion is a command from Jesus. Regular communion with Jesus enables us to love other people.
Jesus’s commandment to love one another was not a commandment to love only fellow Christians, those who think like us, or even Jews. The commandment included love for individuals who think very differently than we think. We are even to love our enemies.
In my childhood church, we celebrated a Love Feast which included foot washing followed by taking the Eucharist. As an adult, I’ve attended Seder meals. In these meals, the central meat was lamb. The bitter herb was often dandelion. Although edible, the dandelion leaf has a bitter taste. In Israel, dandelions grow from the extreme north at Mount Hermon south to the Negev Dessert. In the United States, dandelions grow in almost all gardens.
The word “dandelion” comes from the French phrase dent de lion which means “lion’s tooth” because of the jagged shape of leaves. “Lion’s tooth” reminds me of Jesus. When Jesus came to earth two millennia ago, he came as a humble, suffering servant. When Jesus returns to earth the second time, he will be a lion. Jesus will be a military leader who rends and tears individuals who set themselves against him.
Have you encountered Jesus in his role of suffering servant, of Savior, who was willing to have his body broken and blood shed for you? Or, will you encounter Jesus the first time as a roaring lion?
Bible Reference: John 13.1-35