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Story of the Bible by  Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
Table of Contents


 

 

THE LAST SUPPER

Matthew xxvi: 17 to 35; Mark xiv: 12 to 31; Luke xxii: 7 to 38; John xiii: 1, to xvii: 26.

[636]

O N one of the days in the week before the Passover, the disciples came to Jesus at Bethany, and said, "Master, where shall we make ready the Passover for you to eat?"

Then Jesus called to himself the two disciples, Peter and John, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you; follow him, and go into the house where he goes, and say to the head of the house, 'The Master says, "Where is my guest-room; where I can eat the Passover with my disciples?" '

"And he will himself show you a large upper room, furnished; there make ready for us."

Peter and John went into Jerusalem, and soon in the street they saw a man walking toward them carrying a pitcher of water. They followed him, went into the house where he took the pitcher, and spoke to the man who seemed to be its head:

"The Master says, 'Where is the guest-room for me, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' "

The man led them upstairs, and showed them a larger upper room, with the table and the couches around it, all ready for the guests at dinner. Then the disciples went out, and brought a lamb, and roasted it; and made ready the vegetables and the thin wafers of bread made without yeast, for the meal.

On Thursday afternoon, Jesus and his disciples walked out of Bethany together, and over the Mount of Olives, and into the city. Only Jesus, who could read the thoughts of men, knew that one of these disciples, Judas, had made a promise to the chief priests to lead them and their servants to Jesus, when the hour should come to seize him: and Judas was watching for the best time to do this [637] dreadful deed. They came into the house, and went upstairs to the large room, where they found the supper all ready. The meal was spread upon a table; and around the table were couches for the company, where each one lay down with his head toward the table, so near that he could help himself to the food, while his feet were at the foot of the couch, toward the wall of the room. Their feet were bare, for they had all taken off their sandals as they came in.

Jesus was leaning at the head of the table, and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved most, was lying next to him. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and gave thanks. Then he broke it, and passed a piece to each one of the twelve, saying:

"Take, and eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this and remember me."

Afterward, he took the cup of wine, and passed it to each one, with the words:

"This cup is my blood, shed for you, and for many, that their sins may be taken away; as often as you drink this, remember me."

While they were still leaning on the couches around the table, Jesus rose up, and took off his outer robe, and then tied around his waist a long towel. He poured water into a basin, and while all the disciples were wondering, he carried the water to the feet of one of the disciples, and began to wash them, just as though he himself were a servant. Then he washed the feet of another disciple, and then of still another. When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, "Dost thou, O Lord, wash my feet?"


[Illustration]

JESUS WASHES THE FEET OF PETER

Jesus said to him, "What I do, you cannot understand now, but you will understand it after a time."

"Lord, thou shalt never wash my feet," said Peter.

"If I do not wash you," said Jesus, "then you are none of mine."

Then Peter said, "O Lord, wash not only my feet, but my hands and my head too!"

But Jesus said to him, "No, Peter; one who has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and then he is clean. And you are clean, but not all of you."

For he knew that among those whose feet he was washing was one, the traitor, who would soon give him up to his enemies. After he had washed their feet, he put on his garments again, and leaned once more on his couch, and looked around, and said:

[638] "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me 'Master' and 'Lord,' and you speak rightly, for so I am. If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash each other's feet; for I have given you an example that you should do to each other as I have done to you."

By this Jesus meant that all who follow him should help and serve each other, instead of seeking great things for themselves.

While Jesus was talking, he became very sad and sorrowful, and said, "Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of you that are eating with me shall betray me, and give me up to those who will kill me."

Then all the disciples looked round on each other, wondering who was the one that Jesus meant. One said, and another said, "Am I the one, Lord?"

And Jesus said, "It is one of you twelve men, who are dipping your hands into the same dish and eating with me. The Son of Man goes, as it is written of him; but woe to that man who betrays him and gives him up to die. It would have been good for that man if he had never been born."

While Jesus was speaking, Simon Peter made signs to John across the table, that he, leaning next to Jesus, should ask him who this traitor was. So John whispered to Jesus, as he was lying close to him, "Lord, who is it?"

Jesus answered, but so low that none else heard: "It is the one to whom I will give a piece of bread after I have dipped it in the dish."

Then Jesus dipped into the dish a piece of bread, and gave it to Judas Iscariot, who was lying near him. And as he gave it, he said, "Do quickly what you are going to do."

No one except John knew what this meant. Not all heard what Jesus said to Judas; and those who heard thought that Jesus was telling him to do something belonging to the feast, or perhaps, as Judas carried the money, that he should make some gift to the poor. But Judas at once went out, for he saw now that his plan was known, and it must be carried out now or never. He knew that after the supper Jesus would go back to Bethany; and he went to the rulers, told them where they might watch for Jesus on his way back to Bethany, and went with a band of men to a place at the foot of the Mount of Olives, where he was sure Jesus would pass.

[640] As soon as Judas had gone out, Jesus said to the eleven disciples, "Little children, I shall be with you only a little while. I am going away; and where I go, you cannot come now. But when I am gone away from you, remember this new commandment that I give you, that you love one another even as I have loved you."

Simon Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, where are you going?"

Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterward."

Peter said to him, "Lord, what, cannot I follow you even now? I will lay down my life for your sake."

Jesus said, "Will you lay down your life for me? I tell you, Peter, that before the cock crows to-morrow morning you will three times deny that you have ever known me!"

But Peter said, "Though I die, I will never deny you, Lord!"

And so said all the other disciples; but Jesus said to them, "Before morning comes every one of you will leave me alone. Yet I will not be alone, for the Father will be with me."

Jesus saw that Peter and all his disciples were full of sorrow at his words, and he said, "Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many houses; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going to make ready a place for you. And when it is ready, I will come again, and take you to myself, that when I am, there you may be also."

Then Jesus talked with the disciples a long time, and prayed for them. And about midnight they left the supper-room together, and came to the Mount of Olives.


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