Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shadow Words

“And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover feast.”

There must have been some kind of spiritual blindfold on the disciples. Christ had been a miracle worker. But now the strangest things were going on. He told his disciples to go and find a colt, that the animal would be waiting for them. It was just like he’d said. Then he told Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover feast. They'd need a room. So he tells them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.” Peter and John find it all to be true down to the smallest detail of the room being upstairs.

Jesus leads them to the upstairs staging area. He is in a reclining posture at the table. This will be his final moment of rest before the planet’s greatest battle of good and evil commences. He says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he takes his drinking cup, says a prayer over it, and shares it with them. “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” He breaks off a piece of bread and passes it around to eat with the wine and tells them, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

When I saw The Greatest Story Ever Told as a kid, it was at this point that I said, “Run, people!” Even in my simplistic view of the story, it was obvious that Jesus was predicting his last meal on earth before he died. From the moment Mary poured oil on his feet to the last meal with his disciples, Jesus was preparing for his own death, predicting it to the most finite detail and yet no one caught on or tried to stop it.

Jesus isn’t just telling them he’s about to die—he knows who is going to hand him over to be executed; yet again, the disciples keep eating, thinking this is all about the food. And, in a greater way, it is. He uses the food as a metaphor for his body that is about to be mutilated. They have no idea that they are swallowing the first taste of redemption.

They continue to eat as Jesus continues to predict what will happen first and then next. They will eat again with him just like this, he tells them, but in a different and distant kingdom. Peter will betray him—his Rock. He quotes scriptures that have been a mystery until now and then finishes the equation in a strange interplay of shadowy metaphors.

Jesus had been escaping at the end of each day, withdrawing from the crowds and even the fellowship of his loyal circle of men to the Mount of Olives. He now led them all there to his secret place of fellowship with God, His Father. Little did they know that as they participated in this privileged circle of fellowship that they were entering into a blood pact to save the world.

Up until now, the Bible stories from Adam and Eve to the New Adam—Jesus the Son of God—we have all been distant observers. But it is at this point in the story that we enter in as participants because the story is becoming ours too.