A very dear friend, nearly a family member, moved to another state recently. Shortly before she left, we had a farewell dinner for her. It was a time to tell her how much we valued her friendship and to wish her well in her new home. Our ‘clan’ includes three generations and I hope the younger ones among us will remember this sad yet sweet event. Our dinner reminded me just a little of what Christians call ‘The Last Supper’ reported in all four of the Gospel accounts.
ENGAGE the passage: You’ll find it in Luke 22:7-23. (Matt.26:17-50, Mark 14:12-26 and John 13:1-30 are the other three references.) If you have teenagers in your family, you might ask them to join you in reading the other three Gospel accounts ahead of time. But for your family time, let everyone join in reading the verses in Luke. Consider using several different translations or paraphrases and cue up the scene in the film if you’re watching this.
EXPLORE the meaning: Context is very important. A big ‘back story’ needs to be understood if you are to see the many layers of meaning here. Consider using some children’s materials for the sake of time. Bible Storybooks and other forms of illustrated material work well to review/reveal what Passover is and why it’s so important in this New Testament story. Older kids and teens can search the internet for material on the Passover meal. You can even find copies of famous paintings that have come to us from gifted artists who lived centuries ago.
The Passover didn’t have to be explained to Jesus and His disciples. They grew up knowing the story of Israel’s bondage in Egypt and God’s miraculous deliverance. Every spring time of their lives they would have observed this solemn meal and rejoiced in Israel’s redemption from slavery. The rules for preparing and eating it were many and complicated, and orthodox Jewish families carried them out faithfully. Passover’s central figure was not Moses who led the nation to freedom; it was a lamb.
You may only scratch the surface as you explore meaning here, but use question-and-answer discussion to bring about responses from your family members, to help them see the beauty of God’s truth. These might be two of the discoveries you’ll make:
- Jesus understood His role as the Lamb of God. He knew that His blood was about to be shed and His flesh torn on the cross. Willingly He would fulfill His destiny out of love for His followers and all mankind – for the forgiveness of sin.
- This observance was what He wanted His followers to do in remembrance of Him – this, more than anything else He said or did in His earthly ministry.
Many ways exist for ‘getting into the story.’ Try asking:
- I wonder what you’d be thinking If you were one of the disciples that night?
- What would you remember most as you grew old and looked back on this last time all together?
- How do you feel now as we’ve been exploring this account of Jesus’ last meal on earth?
- Is there an expression of thanksgiving, praise or devotion to Jesus that you’d like to share?
EXPERIENCE the story: There is no end to the ways you might bring this part of Scripture to life. Using unleavened bread (crackers) and grape juice to follow Paul’s advice given in 1 Cor.11:23-26 is one way. As a family, you might create a diorama in a shoe box or on a table top. Display individual family members’ art work including original poetry, stories and songs.
Or, how about this: Create a scene, with family members reenacting Jesus’ Last Supper and take a photo of it. Give the picture a title, make copies of it and share it with family and friends. It could even go on Facebook, I suppose.
You’d need simple props like a low table and some cushions; eating implements for the bread and juice; simple costumes. Let each one in the picture take on the identity of one of the disciples, whether you label him or her – or not. Consider leaving Jesus, Who would have been in the center of the picture, invisible. That is, not represented by a family member, but perhaps something symbolic – like a toy lamb, or a floral cross, or white grave clothes draped on a chair back – something like that.
EMBRACE the Savior: Whatever you end up doing this ‘Holy Week’ pray that God’s Spirit will touch your family members’ lives in a fresh way as they consider again what Jesus did on the cross so that they can be members of His ‘forever’ family. How sad when the Resurrected Christ, who still bears the scars of His ordeal, is made to stand outside our homes, a forgotten participant in a long past drama rather than a vibrant Member of today’s family life.
Jesus’ most intimate friends and followers must have carried memories of that Last Supper with them to their own last days, eternally grateful to be among those who worship the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. We can, also.
(Some Bible references to choose from that tell about ‘the Lamb’: Ex. 12:21; Isaiah 53:7; Jn.1:29; 1 Cor.5:7b; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Rev.5:12.)
A FINAL WORD: A small book entitled, Who Is This Jesus by Michael Green was first published in 1990. A succinct and very readable commentary on Jesus, it is divided into twelve short chapters. Especially good for teens and young adults who may be questioning spiritual realities, it is still available on Amazon and other websites. I highly recommend this book.