Wednesday of Holy Week

This is the week that we remember the last week of Jesus’ life. Wednesday. N.T Wright once wrote, “When Jesus wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.”

The gospel writer Luke quotes Jesus, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” The two words “earnestly desired” stand out to me. The two words express an intense longing. Jesus is basically saying that on his last night on earth, he wants to be around his friends. He wants to sit and have a meal with his closest associates. He wants to share this moment together.

The meal that they are sharing is the Passover meal. It is a meal rich in symbolism and beauty for the Jewish community. For Jesus the Passover was the prefiguring of his destiny. He is about to become the lamb slain for the sins of the world. His blood was about to be poured out and offered as forgiveness from sin.

It is interesting to note that the most commonly accepted location of the place of execution by biblical historians and archeologists is on a main road coming into Jerusalem.

It currently serves as an Arab bus stop. Close by there is a garden cemetery and some tombs to the left of it. And there is also a hill that looks like a skull behind it.

The most interesting factor is that the area is directly based on some bedrock. Bedrock that is connected to the same bedrock that runs underneath where the ancient Jewish temple once stood.

So that means that Jesus was giving his life, and his blood was being poured out it would have been on the same bedrock that ran underneath the ancient Holy of Holies. The location of the ark of the covenant. The place where the blood was applied on the Day of Atonement. Back to our story…

Jesus sits around the table with his closest friends. He knows their future. He knows one will betray him – Judas. Judas will betray him on this day for a paltry 30 pieces of silver. He knew Simon Peter with all his bravado will deny ever knowing him and even curse at the accusation that he was a follower of Jesus. Jesus also knows all the other disciples will abandon him and run in his hour of need. He knows as well he will be abandoned by his Father in heaven. He knows the impending loneliness as he takes on the weight of the sin for us all. Yet he sits with his closest friends and has a meal with them. Washes their feet. And then requests that they never forget this night. He establishes a ceremony to remember this day. He takes some bread. Breaks it. Gives it to his disciples. Tells them to take and eat. Then he took a chalice of wine. Explains how this wine represents his blood. And his blood would be poured out for a new and everlasting covenant. Then tells them that as often as they eat this bread and drink this cup that they remember this moment until he comes again. It is Wednesday of holy week.