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As you know from the last story, it was the time for celebrating Passover, and Jesus and His followers were together. This was the day for remembering how God had brought them out of Egypt. It was also the day the Passover lamb would be sacrificed.
Do you remember about the Passover lamb? How when God delivered the people out of Egypt, each household sacrificed a perfect lamb to God. But only those who were cut in the secret places and clean could participate in the Passover Party. And there was to be no leaven in the house.
Jesus had been looking forward to sharing this Passover meal with them, but He still had some business to take care of too.
As they were eating together, Jesus said to them, “One of you here eating with Me is going to turn his back on Me.”
The room went quiet. They could hardly believe what they were hearing. Who would do that? After all they’d been through together… after all the miraculous signs and life-giving words Jesus has brought to them, who would turn their back on Him now?
One by one they each said to Him, “Surely not me, Lord?” “And not me, Lord?” “Or me?” “Not me?”
Then they began to question each other trying to figure out which one of them it was. Peter motioned for the person sitting next to Jesus to ask Him.
Then Jesus said to them, “Yes, it is one of the twelve. It’s the one who dips his hand with Me into the bowl.”
The whole room’s eyes moved to Jesus’ hand in the bowl. JUDAS! Judas! Judas?!
Then Judas said, “Surely not me, Teacher?”
Jesus answered, “You’ve said it yourself. What you’re about to do, do it quickly.”
(Sometime after this Judas snuck off to the top religious leaders. The others hadn’t known it, but back when Mary broke that expensive jar of perfume for Jesus, Judas what so upset and offended about it that he snuck off to make a deal with the top religious phonies. At that time he’d agreed to help them capture Jesus in exchange for some money. So Judas had just been watching for a chance to break his promise and sell out Jesus. After Jesus called him out in front of everyone, Judas went off to finish his deal.)
As they ate together, Jesus told them, “I have something to tell you: This is the last time I will eat this meal with you until it is fulfilled.”
Then Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “Eat this. This is My body, which I’m giving for you. Remember Me when you eat it.”
Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Drink this. This is My blood which begins the new agreement that God makes with His people — My blood that is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness, the erasing, of sins.”
As His closest followers sat around the table, I’m not sure how much they really understood what Jesus was telling them. The feast and all its details were always just shadows of REAL things to come. And now, Jesus, the REAL, had come.
Remember how John had called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”? Well, God’s dear-to-Him Son, this beautiful One unlike any other, was going to become the Passover’s sacrifice Lamb.
And just like John had said, Jesus would soon baptize others with His Spirit and with fire! He was not only going to forgive people’s sins, He was going to fill them with God’s Spirit — with bright, strong, energetic fire from Heaven! The promise God had shouted through Isaiah, and Ezekiel and Jeremiah and the prophets so long ago was coming true. The puzzle pieces were falling into place. Through this dear Son He delighted in, God was going to make a way for people to get rid of their stony, rebellious hearts and be close to Him with tender hearts. He would make them not just rattling, dry, dead bones but an alive army with God’s Holy Spirit fire! And, it was all beginning with His Son.
Keep listening and watch how Jesus brings to light and life all the things that before were just shadows — gray, flat shadows. It will involve some painful stuff, but it’s all part of God’s Big, Beautiful Plan.
Jesus just went on to tell His friends, “You are the ones who have stuck with Me in My difficulties and pain, so I give to you a kingdom, just as My Father gave to Me, that you can eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom. And you’ll sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Then Jesus turned to Peter. “Simon, Simon, pay close attention to what I’m saying! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, to pick you apart, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith fail not. And when you’ve turned back, help make your brothers strong. Strengthen them.”
Peter got a lump in his throat. What was Jesus saying? That he would turn his back on Jesus, too? Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!”
But Jesus told him, “Peter, you aren’t even going to make it ‘til the morning. Before the rooster crows today, three times you’ll pretend that you don’t even know Me.”