Jesus had prophesied his death and resurrection many times to his disciples. The Father now told Jesus, it is time—this very night. There would be no more prophecies, no more speculation. It was time for action. But the disciples were still not ready. They didn’t understand what was coming or what it meant. Jesus realized that it was too late to explain to them clearly what would happen that night. All he could do for them this night is to teach them things they would understand later.
Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, had had enough. He didn’t like Jesus speaking against the priesthood and the temple—they were the center of all good Jews believed in! So he went to the priests to ask them what to do. The priests responded, “We want to bring him to the Sanhedrin, but we wish to do so privately. Lead us to where he stays at night, turn him over to us, and we will discipline him appropriately.” They didn’t tell him that they planned to kill him. Judas agreed to hand him over, if they would pay him silver.
The Passover celebration was coming, and Jesus told his disciples to get ready for it. He had his disciples obtain a guest room for them to eat in and they prepared for the meal. But Jesus had his own plans for the meal.
After Jesus entered into the prepared room, he took a cloth and tied it around him, and filled a bowl full of water so that he looked like a slave serving his master. Then Jesus bent over one of the disciples already sitting back on a chair and began washing the disciple’s feet—the dirtiest part of him, after walking through the dirt and mud all day. The disciple was repulsed by Jesus’ action—the Rabbi shouldn’t be doing slave’s work!— but the disciple didn’t say anything, because he couldn’t contradict his master. Then Jesus went around, washing all the other disciple’s feet.
When Jesus came up to Simon Peter, Peter boldly stated, “I will never let you wash my feet!” Jesus gently replied, “But if you don’t let me wash your feet, you will have no part of me.” Peter then changed his mind—“Then I want you to wash all of me!” Jesus smiled and said, “You don’t need all that, Peter. I’ve already washed you through my teaching. For now, you only need your feet washed.” Then Jesus washed Peter’s and the rest of the disciples’ feet.
Jesus took off the cloth and sat in front of his disciples, the teacher once again. He taught them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? I am your teacher, yes, even your Lord. But I have acted like a slave, serving you and making you welcome in this place. Now if you are going to be my disciples, you must do what I do. I want you to serve each other and welcoming to each other, just as I have been welcoming to you.”
It was then time for the meal. Jesus took the bread and prayed over it, giving thanks to the Lord. Instead of just handing it around, he paused, waiting for all the disciples’ attention. Then he slowly and deliberately broke the bread. “This is my body which is broken for you. Take it and eat.” Jesus passed the bread around, and each of the disciples ate of it.
Then Jesus poured wine into a cup, and all the disciples were looking at him. He said, “This is my blood. It is the new covenant, the establishment of God’s kingdom. Drink this. And every time you drink this cup, drink it as a memorial for me. For I will not drink wine again until I drink it with you after my Father’s kingdom has been established on earth.”
Again Jesus looked at all the disciples sitting before him. “I am going to be handed over to the authorities. And one of you sitting here will do it.” All of the disciples were fearing for themselves and they asked Jesus, “Am I the one?” One of the disciples sitting next to him asked, “Who is it?” And Jesus said, “It is the one who dips his bread with me into the dish.”
Simon Peter, however, was boasting. “I know that it isn’t me. I would never betray our Lord. I would stay by him, no matter what.” Jesus said quietly, “Peter, you don’t know what you’re talking about. This night, before the rooster crows three times, you will have denied that you even knew me three times.” Peter was stunned and proclaimed, “Never! I would die for you.” Jesus said, “Simon, Satan desires to have his way with you, to tear you apart. But I have prayed for you that ultimately, your faith wouldn’t fail you. So after he is done with you, come back to your brothers, here, and strengthen them.”
At that point, Judas Iscariot, dipped his bread into the common dish with Jesus. Jesus looked at Judas and said, “Do it. Get it over with.” Judas understood that Jesus knew what he had planned, and he ran away. The disciples thought Judas was going to pay for the room and meal, and still didn’t understand what was happening.