Scriptural references: Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; and, Luke 22:7-38.
It’s Maundy Thursday, the end of the Lenten season. The day when we commemorate the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples.
Picture it, if you will. You’re hosting a holiday dinner party with your closest friends and family. However, you know that your life could possibly end in no time at all. To make things worse, you know that at that impending dark hour you’ll be denied and deserted by those celebrating with you. And the one who will be partly responsible for your death is with you at the party.
Sucks, doesn’t it? Welcome to the Last Supper.
This has to be the most poignant and paradoxical event of Passion Week. I may sound heretical, but I feel that night was more poignant than Calvary. Here we see Jesus in full knowledge that the religious power elite plan to try and execute him, yet desired to celebrate Passover with his disciples. Jesus knew full well that Judas-one of the disciples-will betray him to the authorities. Jesus also knew that a chief disciple-Peter-would deny him. He also knew that the other disciples would get faint hearted when the time came.
This story shows what Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong would call Jesus’s “living fully“. You see, Jesus wasn’t so beat down by impending death, betrayal, denial and desertion that he stopped living life. Jesus had the joy of celebrating the high holy time in Jewish culture, the Passover. Jesus still made the trip to Jerusalem, stayed in nearby Bethany, and even rented a room for the holiday.
To us, it would be like a death-row inmate taking up watercolors. A terminally ill person marrying and taking a honeymoon cruise around the world. Residents of a gang-infested neighborhood having a block party with barbecue and dee-jay (and inviting the gang members). A physically-challenged person doing the New York Marathon. A widowed person taking a chance on new love. A woman going to a baby shower (with gifts) after having a miscarriage.
Living fully the midst of tragedy.
I know my Bible scholars out there would have issue with this take on the Last Supper. However, as one who’s learning to read Scripture metaphorically this is what I see. To take it a step further, would any of us have this same attitude as Jesus did? Would we live fully in the midst of tragedy? Or would we curl up in a ball and wait for the end-whatever it would be?
As we come to the end of another Lenten season, let’s take this last reflection and learn of it. Jesus lived fully at Passover in the midst of impending tragedy. Do we have the power to do the same?