Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:17-25; Luke 22:7-18, 21-23; John 13:22-26
Mark, as was his custom, approaches this subject with an economy of words, with verses 12-16 being about Jesus’ instructions for preparations, followed by a brief description of their meal. As we might suspect, everything went just as Jesus said that they would. When the time came for the meal, Jesus tells the group that one of them will betray Him.
Naturally, they were shocked. “Surely you don’t mean me Lord” seems to be the universal reaction to this, and Jesus narrows it down a bit in verses 19 and 20, and then in 21 He tells them that He will indeed allow Himself to be taken, as the Scriptures have foretold. All of this talk of betrayal, and Jesus’ knowledge of who would do it and when, is there for a reason other than just to make a good story, for it documents that Jesus went willingly; a very important point. No one forced Jesus do anything that night, for He was there for the purpose of doing the Father’s will, to accomplish the Father’s purpose. That this would involve arrest, humiliation, torture, pain and death would not stop Him from going through with this purpose.
I wouldn’t suggest that Jesus was looking forward to the experience, for He was human and faced the same physical weaknesses that the rest of us have. In fact, the added reality that He was also divine, with all of its power and authority most likely made His task more difficult, for it was necessary for Him to restrain His divine power and endure His human pain.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
It wouldn’t appear that the disciples quite comprehended yet what Jesus had just done, let alone what He was talking about, but obviously the pieces would soon fall into place for them. For each of us, we are fully aware of what has just happened in the story, for we commemorate it each Lord’s Day in our worship. Maybe it is better here that I simply suggest that each of us pause in our busy day to reflect upon the significance of what Jesus was about to do for humanity in the hours that followed this dramatic scene, and to rededicate ourselves to His service.