Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s Daily Podcast, my name’s Abby and it’s so good to be opening the Bible with you again today, thank you for listening.
Today’s passage is Matthew 26:17-35 and I’m going to read the first three of those verses for us to focus on now:
“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.”
The more I’ve thought about it, I love the significance of this event – when we read further on, this turns out to be Jesus’s last evening with the disciples before he is betrayed and arrested.
Passover in the Old Testament was a celebration of how God rescued the Israelites from slavery and oppression in Egypt and, as Daniel Groody says, it came to more widely reveal ‘God’s action in history on behalf of the most vulnerable, God’s commitment to human liberation, God’s expectation of right worship, God’s enduring fidelity, and ultimately God’s promise of a new kingdom and a new creation’. We see the ultimate expression of the Passover in Jesus on the cross, as he moved from death to life, and bought us true freedom and liberation. So the fact that Jesus chooses to mark this last evening by celebrating the Passover with his disciples is very symbolic.
I love the fact that the Passover celebration involved sitting down for a meal together – we see in the Bible so many significant times where food is shared over a table and community is built – I know that’s something that a lot of us will be missing at the moment as we can’t invite friends over for a meal – but we can still make the most of the opportunity to stop and be with those who are in our household and share food together. I know when I’m in the house on my own I can be very guilty of rushing lunch, or just taking it back to my desk, but virtual dinners over a video call are working well too!
I love the fact that Jesus chose to spend those last moments with his disciples – he had encountered so many people during the course of his ministry, yet he spent this last celebration with the people closest to him, who had seen all the ups and downs of the last three years.
And I love the fact that, despite Jesus knowing, and probably dreading what was to come when he would be handed over to be crucified, Jesus still chose to press in to celebration, he was present with his disciples, he was ‘reclining’ at the table! Jesus’ attitude in the build up to his death has really challenged me. I don’t know about you, but I often find the last few days before I know something is about to change almost worse than when the actual change happens – my mind starts whirring about what it might feel like, about what could happen and I can dread what is to come, which often leads me to missing, or even wasting, those precious last moments.
Now I’m not at all likening going into lockdown with Jesus’ death (!), don’t worry, this is a slightly tenuous link, but as I was reflecting on this passage I was thinking back to how I found the build up to this second lockdown really hard – it was strange having a few days of waiting, knowing lockdown had been announced and was coming, but it hadn’t officially started. Life at home is looking a bit different this time round to the first lockdown and so I started to worry if I might feel a lot more isolated this time, my family were all quarantining together after my brother arrived back from being away for most of this year and I was sad that I couldn’t see them and now won’t for a while and my one day of not working from home and being back in an office with people was about to disappear again – suffice to say I wasn’t a particularly happy bunny! However, when lockdown arrived, thankfully, by God’s goodness and grace, it hasn’t been as hard as I feared at all, and I look back and realise that I could have chosen to view those days in the build up differently.
As I think about how Jesus approached his death, choosing not to check out, but instead to make the most of his last moments, choosing to share a meal and celebrate with his closest friends, my challenge to myself, is to continue to be present – we all know that life is uncertain at the moment and we can spend so much time wondering what is to come, what will happen at Christmas, what is next year going to be like. These are all very natural thoughts, but let’s not let that stop us from missing where we are right now, from choosing to celebrate the good things and be thankful, from looking up to God and out towards other people as we press into what God is doing at this time, in spite of the circumstances, to use it for his glory. I’m reminded of Psalm 118:24, ‘this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.’
God, we thank you that each day is a gift from you, thank you for the attitude of thanksgiving and celebration that Jesus models to us, help us to be present this day, and to recognise the good things you have given us, Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 26:17-35
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’
He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, “The Teacher says: my appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’
Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’
Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
‘“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’
Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’
‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’
But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.