“Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ’ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” ~Matthew 26:17-30
“The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival. And the festival we keep, now that our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, is a joyful celebration of his sacrifice, together with a spiritual feasting upon it.” ~John Stott
I love this scene we are given in this passage from Matthew 26. Here, at a time when Jesus is now only a day away from being crucified, killed in a most horrible and excruciating manner, we see the tender heart He had for His people. Knowing full well what lays ahead of Him and the pain and heartache He will endure, He shifts His focus onto His disciples on what has now become known as Maunday Thursday. The time has come for the Passover meal, and Jesus has already, ahead of time, prepared specifically where it would be that their group of friends would share the meal. He had been proactive to prepare a place for them, thinking of their needs and operating out of a place of forethought, preparation, and hospitality.
With all that is coming for Jesus the next day, He takes the time now to slow, to gather in close with His disciples, and celebrate this important feast in an intimate and special way. This is what has become known as the Last Supper, and it is on this day whereon Jesus instituted what we now know and commemorate as the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. Jesus takes this time to commune with His disciples, to break bread with them, to share wine, and to encourage and prepare their hearts, in both word and song, for what lies ahead.
Truly, this is not even just any meal. This encounter is one of more than just breaking bread and drinking wine and fellowshipping as friends. This is a conversation, a passage from Scripture, that is most rich in its doctrine and theology. Over dinner, Jesus speaks to topics pertaining to the new covenant, the remission of our sins, and even eschatology, or the “doctrine of the last things”.
In this passage Jesus presents to us the best example we have, a first-hand picture, for how to practice hospitality. Jesus does not rush around and strive, He does not overwhelm or stress Himself with the preparations, but instead begins them well ahead of time, setting everything in motion early so that everything will come together when it is time for dinner and guests and fellowship.
Once His guests arrive, His focus is on them. He is interested in meeting their physical needs through food and their spiritual needs through doctrine, theology, and spiritual practices. He meets their mental and emotional needs by letting them in a bit on what is about to happen while also encouraging and supporting them in and through it. Talk about an example!
As believers, we know that we have been tasked with the mission and ministry of hospitality. We are told, unequivocally, that we are to be hospital and not forsake the extending of hospitality. But too often, we hit a wall in this area because we act a little too much like Jesus’ friend, Martha. We begin with our service rather than our relationship with the Lord. We rush ahead of time spent with Jesus to instead focus on our to-do list of tasks we feel we must accomplish before our guests arrive. We begin to disdain service and hospitality because of all the stress and overwhelm it seems to bring us.
The answer to this age-old struggle is to start out as Mary – to be at the feet of Jesus, to commune with and learn from Him. Starting off on that right foot will lead to a most enjoyable, fruitful, kingdom-impacting ministry of hospitality. May we heed Jesus’ example rather than continuing on in our own predisposition to strive, and have all our lives changed for the better as we do!
Compare how you usually prepare for a time of hospitality to how Jesus did in this passage. Compare the feel of the conversation and atmosphere during your times of hospitality to that of Jesus with His disciples. Take a minute to consider what might ought to change.
Lord, thank You for the beautiful example You give in this passage of how to love on, serve, and teach others over the table. Thank You for what it reveals about Your tender heart for Your people. Help me to live out this example to all those who come into my home, both friends, family, and strangers alike. Help me to point them to You and Your love in all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, homeschooling mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah’s first book Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) released the fall of 2017, and the Lies Moms Believe the Companion Bible Study came out the following spring. Since then, Rebekah has written Advent and Lent devotional studies for women, co-authored a book on walking by the Spirit and living the Spirit-filled life, and most recently co-authored a book on friendship. When she isn’t busy homeschooling, writing, or podcasting, you can find her with her nose buried in a book, drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, and listening to Celtic music. You can reach out to Rebekah on her website Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram @rebekahhargraves, or on iTunes via The Home and Hearth podcast. She would love to hear from you!