Server Outage Notice: is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

2366 sermons as of June 20, 2024.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
 send email...
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
Title:Our Lord celebrates the last Passover with his disciples
Text:Mark 14:12-26 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Suffering

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

NOTE:  all songs from 2010 Book of Praise

Psalm 99
Psalm 32:1,2
Psalm 41
Hymn 62
Hymn 26

Reading:  Exodus 12:1-20
Text:  Mark 14:12-26


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of Christ,

They knew it was coming.  They had been warned.  The signs were impossible to ignore.  The coming storm would change the rest of their lives.  Nothing would be the same afterwards.  When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans a few years back, it wasn’t as if nobody had been warned.  The National Hurricane Center had been tracking the storm for some time.  They had simply underestimated where the storm would hit and how devastating it would be.  But they did know the storm was coming and they knew it would be ferocious.  You don’t mess with category 5 hurricanes. 

In our text too, a storm was brewing.  Something was about to happen which would not only change the lives of those directly involved, it would actually be the pivot point of world history.  Nothing would be the same after Good Friday.  Nothing would be the same after the rage and hatred of the Jewish religious leaders put Jesus the Son of God on a Roman cross to suffer and die.  Jesus had told his disciples that this moment was coming.  In Mark 8 he told them he would suffer much at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law.  He would be killed and after three days would rise again.  He told them again in Mark 9:31, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  In Mark 10, they were on their way to Jerusalem and he warned them again.  He told them that it was going to happen there, in Jerusalem.  He would be handed over to the Sanhedrin, he would be condemned to death and handed over to the Romans.  They would “mock him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.”  And then after three days he would rise.  Then after arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus told the parable of the tenants.  You find that at the beginning of Mark 12.  In that parable the son of the owner of the vineyard gets killed by the tenant farmers.  The message was clear:  this was what was going to happen to Jesus. 

The disciples had been warned of the coming storm.  The skies are now dark.  The wind is picking up.  But before the storm arrives in all its fury, there’s one last matter that needs to be taken care of.  There is one last meal to be had between Jesus and his closest disciples.  This is not just any meal, this is a Passover meal and it’s the final Passover meal of the Old Covenant era.  This is the last Passover before the turning point in world history.  This morning we’ll see our Lord celebrating the last Passover with his disciples.  We’ll see the:

1.      Preparations for his meal

2.      Revelation of his betrayer

3.      Institution of his supper

We’re now on Thursday, the day right before Good Friday.  Mark tells us that it was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It was the time of Passover, the time when Jews commemorated the Exodus from Egypt.  God delivered Israel from slavery and this was remembered by the Jews each year.  The Passover lamb was sacrificed to remind them of how the blood of the lamb protected God’s people from death in the days of Moses.  Being Jewish men, Jesus and his disciples were going to take part in this feast too.  So his disciples asked him where he wanted them to go and make the preparations so they could have their Passover meal. 

Jesus had apparently made prior arrangements.  He sends two of his disciples into the city.  In the parallel from Luke, we learn that these two disciples were Peter and John.  Jesus is still in Bethany.  It’s not safe for him to enter Jerusalem because the Sanhedrin is looking for him.  So he sends Peter and John into the city to get everything ready for the last Passover.  He tells them that a man carrying a jar of water will meet them.  This is the prearranged sign.  They’re to follow him.  He’ll bring them to the house.  The owner of the house will know exactly who they’ve come on behalf of.  It’s “The Teacher.”  The owner is probably one of the broader circle of disciples, someone who recognizes Jesus as a teacher or rabbi as The Teacher.  The owner will show them the room that has been reserved for their use that evening.  It would be a large upstairs dining room.  It would be furnished, which means that it would be comfortably appointed with carpets and couches.  In those days, people didn’t sit on chairs around tables to have a meal like this.  They would be reclining on couches covered with carpets.  The room would be all ready for a Passover meal for thirteen people.  And at that location, Peter and John were to get everything in order for the meal that would take place later that Thursday evening.

Peter and John followed Jesus’ orders.  Everything was exactly like he told them.  They prepared the Passover meal, they got all the things that were needed.  Things like bread and wine.

Our Lord Jesus had planned ahead for this occasion.  Imagine if he hadn’t.  Imagine that he had decided that discretion was the better part of valour and he decided to stay in Galilee just for this one year.  Imagine if he had been filled with fear and decided to stay away from Jerusalem.  It’s basically impossible to imagine isn’t it?  Why?  Because we know our Saviour knew that this had to be done.  Not only was it necessary, but he wanted to do it.  He wanted to be obedient to God’s law which called for the celebration of the Passover.  But more importantly, he wanted to fulfill everything from God’s Word.  He wanted to fulfill what the Passover was really about:  salvation for believers.  The preparations for this meal show his love for us and his intention to save us.  He was not going to let fear turn him away.  He knew what he had to do and he knew why he had to do it.  And Christ wanted to do it, even though it would cost him so much.  It would cost him pain and suffering, it would cost him the wrath of God, it would bring him to death.  And yet here he is moving forward when we would have called it quits long ago.  Brothers and sisters, see the love of our Saviour for us.  When he says “Go into the city, and make the preparations...” he is really saying, “Go make preparations so I can get ready to suffer and die for that brother over there.”  “Go make preparations so I can pay for the sins of that sister right there.”  Let’s not forget that everything Jesus does here he does out of love for his people, to prepare to make atonement for the sins of particular people, for you, and you, and you!

Now it’s evening time.  The sun has gone down and darkness is upon the land.  Sometime between the setting of the sun and midnight, Jesus and the other ten disciples made their way from Bethany to the upper room in Jerusalem.  Under the cover of darkness, he can get to the Passover meal without being detected by the Jewish religious leaders who want him dead. 

They arrived at the upper room and then began the Passover meal.  Let me give you an overview of what that involved.  There was a sequence of things that had to be done each time the Passover was celebrated.  Normally it was celebrated by families and the father would take the lead role.  Sometimes it could be celebrated by small groups of friends as well.  But it was the head of the household who would lead things.  Together they would recite or sing some of the Psalms, the so-called Egyptian Hallel psalms, Psalms 113-118.  Those psalms would be recited or sung in stages at different points in the meal.  The head of the household began the Passover meal with a blessing on the festival and on the first cup of wine.  Then it was time to serve the meal.  There were several dishes.  There was unleavened bread, bitter herbs, leafy vegetables, stewed fruit, and roast lamb.  The bitter herbs were meant to remind the Jews of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.  The roast lamb reminded them of God’s deliverance from death.  According to Exodus 12, the children were then to ask, “What does this ceremony mean to you?”  Then the father was to explain the story of the Exodus.  There was a second cup of wine and then the head of the household would take the unleavened bread and say, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the world, who bring forth bread from the earth.”  He would then break it into pieces.  The bread would be passed around and everyone present would eat it after dipping it into the bitter herbs.  Then they would eat the roast lamb.  There would be a third cup of wine and a final prayer of thanksgiving.  Then they would sing the last part of the Hallel psalms, Psalm 118, drink the fourth cup of wine and then the Passover would be over.  It was a set procedure.  And while it would be unfamiliar to us, all Jews would have grown up with it and they would know it inside out and backwards.  Jesus and his disciples would have done this many times in their lives.

This was what was going on when Mark says in verse 18 that they were at the table eating.  They were reclining, laying on the couches around the table as they would normally do at a meal like this and partaking of the Passover meal, just as had been commanded by God in Exodus 12 and as the Jewish traditions had developed over time. 

And as they’re doing this, Jesus makes a stunning revelation.  They’ve heard before that Jesus is going to be betrayed.  But they have never heard who would do this.  And the disciples apparently didn’t think to ask either. 

But now he tells them.  He says it’s one of them, one of the twelve, one of those eating with him.  Now remember the character of this meal.  It was a family meal.  The people eating the Passover together were either family or like family.  Certainly they all were physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and thus family from somewhere along the way.  Now Jesus says that it’s one of his family who’s going to betray him.  Or if you look at him as their rabbi, their teacher and master, it’s one of his students. 

They respond with sadness.  They can’t grasp that one of them would do something like that.  And they begin to ask if it’s them.  “Surely not I?”  It can’t be me, can it? 

Here in Mark Jesus doesn’t point his finger at Judas Iscariot.  He simply reaffirms that it’s one of them, one of those who will be dipping the bread in the bitter herbs with him.  Here he’s echoing the words of Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”   Some say that Jesus said that at the exact moment that Judas had his hand in the dish and so he was singling out Judas at that moment.  In Matthew’s account of the same event, something like that happens, it’s true.  After Jesus says these words, then Judas asks him, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”  Jesus says, “Yes, it is you.”  But even in Matthew, it’s not clear that this was said loudly enough to be heard by all of them.  Nor is it the case that these words were spoken while Judas had his bread in the dish with Jesus.  We can see that in Mark too because the breaking of the bread happens after Jesus says this.  The bread would only be dipped in the dish after the breaking of the bread. 

The key thing to realize is that Jesus is only broadly identifying his betrayer here.  He says that it is one of the twelve.  In Mark’s account, he doesn’t get more specific than that. 

Jesus goes on to make a statement about the significance of this betrayal.  He first speaks of himself.  He must go just as it is written about him.  His path has been determined by the Word of God and, though it’s painful and awful, he will go that path.  It’s the path of our salvation, brothers and sisters.  Yet the one who betrays the Son of Man is in a world of hurt.  “Woe to him!,” says Jesus.  Betraying the Son of Man, betraying the Messiah sent by God is an act of high treason and rebellion and there will be serious consequences.  Jesus says that it would have been better for him if he’d never been born.  Let’s unpack that for a minute.  At the bare minimum, Jesus is saying that Judas was going to suffer intensely for betraying him.  At the bare minimum, this refers to the anguish and remorse that Judas would feel for what he had done.  Matthew tells us that he was overcome with grief and that led him to commit suicide.  If Judas had never been born, he never would have gone through that.  But there could be more intended here.  This could also mean that Judas was going to suffer intensely for eternity for betraying Jesus.  But for that to be the intended meaning, we have to assume that Judas did not truly repent for what he had done.  For that to be the meaning, we have to assume that Judas died while living in sin and unbelief.  In John 17:12, Jesus refers to Judas and calls him a son of perdition, or son of destruction.  Jesus says that all of the disciples have been kept and guarded, except this one. The son of destruction is the only one that has been lost.  Based on that, it would seem fair to conclude that Judas was reprobate, that his repentance was not sincere, that his grief over his betrayal was superficial and worldly.  So then yes, Jesus was saying that Judas was going to suffer intensely for eternity because of his betrayal of Jesus. 

Loved ones, that reminds us again of how serious a matter it is to be enrolled in the covenant of grace.  To be counted among God’s people is a weighty thing.  To be in the presence of Jesus Sunday after Sunday is nothing to trifle with.  The disciples of Jesus gather here each week to be taught in his school of discipleship.  Woe to the disciple who doesn’t truly turn from sin.  Woe to the disciple who fails to repent and believe the gospel.  As Hebrews 6 tells us, the disciple who does that crucifies the Son of God all over again.  He pulls a Judas.  The author of Hebrews tells us what the consequence will be with a picture.  He says it’s like a field.  The field that produces a crop, that produces fruit is blessed.  “But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed.  In the end it will be burned.”  Then he goes on to say, “We are confident of better things in your case – things that accompany salvation.”  In other words, this is not going to be you, is it?  It’s not going to be you, because you’re going to hear this and turn from your sin each day and trust in Christ.  You’re not going to have an eternity like Judas Iscariot.  You have a sure hope in Jesus, don’t you?  You’re going to inherit what has been promised.                           

From verse 22 to verse 25 we find the institution of our Lord’s Supper, something we plan to celebrate again in the near future.  Jesus took the unleavened bread and he gave thanks and broke it.  Up till here, that would have been what every head of a household would have done with the Passover.  But then Jesus departs from the script.  The script said that he would next say, “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.  Let everyone who hungers come and eat; let everyone who is needy come and eat the Passover meal.”  That was the traditional Jewish script at this point.  But instead Jesus says, “Take it, this is my body.”  Jesus was rewriting the script in view of his imminent fulfillment of this feast.

“This is my body” he says.  Now as you know these words have been controversial in the history of the church, just as when he says in verse 24 that the wine is his blood.  The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ.  That’s the doctrine of transubstantiation. 

What we need to realize is that Jesus is speaking sacramentally.  Just as the Passover looked back to God’s redemption from slavery in Egypt and forward to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, so also the Lord’s Supper looks backward to Jesus’ work on the cross and forward to the marriage feast of the Lamb.  “This is my body” means that as you eat the bread in faith, Jesus is feeding you with his body offered on the cross for you.  Not physically, but spiritually.  “This is my blood” means that as you drink the wine in faith, Jesus is feeding you with his blood poured out on the cross for you.  Again, not physically with red and white blood cells mixed with plasma and water, but spiritually. 

Christ gave the disciples the bread and they ate.  Then the cup – this is the third cup of the Passover, the cup of blessing.  He gave thanks and then they all drank from it.  Then he told them that this was his blood of the covenant.  He was referring back to the blood of the covenant in the Old Testament, the blood that was sprinkled on the people in Exodus 24:8,  “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.’”  Now Jesus says that his blood is the blood of the new covenant administration.  Through his blood people will be reconciled to God and brought into fellowship with him.  The wine of the Lord’s Supper speaks of this reality.  When God’s people drink that wine in faith, that reality is being communicated to them.  They are being fed with Jesus’ blood and strengthened in their faith.  We’re being told that Jesus’ blood was poured out so that we can have a friendly peaceful relationship with the holy God. 

And Jesus says this blood of the covenant is poured out for many.  When he bleeds on the cross, he bleeds for many.  Don’t miss that word there, “many.”  Not all, like Arminians teach, but many.  His blood is poured out for the elect.  He dies for specific people. 

We’re on the brink of the most significant event ever.  The mother promise of Genesis 3:15 is about to be fulfilled.  The seed of the woman is about to crush the head of the serpent, having his own heel bruised in the process.  This is what everything in the Old Testament has been leading up to.  At the edge of this crucial moment, Jesus institutes this sacrament.  He takes the old Passover meal and reconfigures it for a new era – the era after his suffering, death and resurrection. 

This era is not the end of the story either.  And he tells us that in verse 25.  This era we live in now is the in-between time.  This is the time when Jesus doesn’t drink wine.  He hasn’t had a sip since that Thursday evening over 2000 years ago.  He drank that cup then and then he said that he wouldn’t drink wine again until the kingdom of God.  What that means is that he’s waiting for the marriage feast of the Lamb to celebrate and drink with us.  As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper now, as we celebrate it next time, we’ll be looking forward again to that great day, to the return of our Saviour.  We’ll be again anticipating the end of this age, this age in which there’s struggle, in which we have to bear our crosses.  The day is coming when there will be no more crosses, no more spiritual warfare, no more brokenness and heartache, no more grief and trouble.  The day for drinking wine with Jesus is coming, brothers and sisters.  I can’t wait, can you?

Our text ends with singing.  Our translation says that they sang a hymn.  That is literally what the Greek says in the original.  However, what they sang was Psalm 118.  That was the traditional way to conclude a Passover meal.  They sang Psalm 118, a Psalm about God’s salvation, about giving thanks, about his love enduring forever.  And with that song on his heart, our Saviour went out to the Mount of Olives, the scene of his betrayal and arrest.      

Loved ones, we will soon have the opportunity again to be fed by our Lord Jesus at his supper.  As we do that, think of his great love for you.  Think of the fact that your Saviour gave his body and blood to pay for all your sins.  He went through that storm of God’s wrath in your place.  Through him you are right with God and an heir to eternal life.  That’s the gospel proclaimed in the Word and in the sacrament.  That gospel is our only comfort in life and death.  AMEN.


Our Lord Jesus,

Thank you for your body broken for us and your blood shed for us.  Thank you that you willingly went to the cross in our place.  Saviour, we praise you for being our substitute and our salvation.  We’re glad that we could hear the gospel of your work again this morning.  Please continue working in our hearts and lives with your Word and Spirit so that we constantly turn from our sin and entrust ourselves to you.  And next Sunday when we celebrate your Supper again, please feed us and strengthen us there too. 


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster

bottom corner