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THE LAST PASSOVER.
St. Luke xxii. 7-13.
And they said unto
And he said unto
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
This was "the first day of the Feast of unleavened bread," as the Passover was otherwise called; the religious Festival which was yearly celebrated by the Jews in thankful remembrance of the destroying Angel having passed over their houses, when all the firstborn of their enemies were destroyed in the land of Egypt. The Feast lasted seven days, during which nothing leavened was allowed in their houses. On the evening of the first day of the Feast2 a
1 St. Matt. xxvi. 17.
2 Of the much controverted question which arises here, the simplest solution seems to be, that our Lord and His Apostles partook of the Passover on this occasion on the evening, i.e. at the very beginning, of this first day of the Feast (the Feast beginning with the evening of its first day, Lev. xxii. 5) while the great body of the Jews did so on the evening of the day following. The former on the fourteenth day of the month, the latter on the fifteenth. Lev. xxiii. 5, 6. It seems that there was a division of opinion even among the Jews them
selves as to the proper time, as afterwards among the Christians concerning the date of the observance of Easter. It would seem as though the Jews generally regarded the fourteenth day (Exod. xii. 6) as included in and closing the period before the Passover, which they considered to begin on the fifteenth (Lev. xxiii. 6) reckoning that day from the previous even (Lev. xxiii. 5). Some of the Jews, it would appear, were in the habit of doing as our Lord on this occasion did. In any case the Lord of the Passover might anticipate it. He could not both partake of the
lamb, which must be without blemish, was slain and solemnly eaten by each household; in remembrance of that blood which protected them in Egypt, and in type and anticipation of the blood of Christ, which sprinkled on the heart, as that was on the house, protects us from the second death. The same two Disciples who afterwards together visited his empty tomb,' are sent to make the necessary preparations. Now He gives them another proof of His fore-knowledge; as before, to two of their number He gave those like instructions as to finding and being furnished with the ass and the ass's colt. So "one bearing a pitcher of water proved a sign to the servant of Isaac,"3 type of Him who "came by water and blood." The Font points the way to the Altar. Baptism leads on to the Supper of the Lord. It was the custom for those who had convenient houses in Jerusalem, with rooms built and set apart for the purpose, to place these at the disposal of strangers who came up from the country to keep the Passover. Master demands this homage at the hand of His servant, who readily surrenders his room, decently fitted and furnished for the purpose, with all that might be needed on such occasions. The name of this householder was not given, it might be, lest the traitor should precipitate matters. But there is an air of mystery surrounding the whole, such as suits a Sacrament; in which there is ever something for the bodily eye, something for the eye of faith.
shadow and present the substance on the same day. Therefore He thus divides the two acts. In His words (St. Matt. xxvi. 18; St. Luke xxii. 15, 16) there seems to be, if such were needed, a justification of His thus, as it were, anticipating the usual time, the time at least on which the greater part of the people partook of their Paschal lamb. So the original Passover was celebrated before the deliverance it was appointed to commemorate. Thus the first Passover and the last were each by anticipation.
St. John xx. 3-8.
2 St. Luke xix. 29-34; St. Matt.
What if that
Guest-chamber were identical with that "upper room" which soon became the first Christian Church?1
THE SAME SUBJECT continued.
St. Luke xxii. 14-18.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
"The hour" was eventide, any time after sunset.2 They did not sit at table as we do, but reclined on couches round. The first Passover, it seems, was eaten standing,3 for a special reason; but afterwards the ordinary posture of the Jews was adopted, and to this our Lord conformed; using also that Jewish Liturgy which was no part of the original institution. He gives the sanction of His example to the reasonable rule that the Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies which be not contrary to God's Word. He seems to be giving them a reason why He, possibly, anticipated the usual time. He is about to suffer. When the greater part of the people would be partaking of their Paschal lamb, He the true Lamb of God would be hanging on the bitter Cross. He greatly desired 5 once more to cele
1 Acts i. 13-15; St. John xx. 19, 26. It has been conjectured to be the house of the husband of Mary the mother of St. Mark. Acts xii. 5, 12. 2 St. Matt. xxvi. 20. 3 Exod. xii. 11,
Art. xx. Of the Authority of the Church.
5 Such is the force of the Hebraism, with which may be compared St. Matt. xiii. 14, and St. John iii. 29. "These Hebraisms appear to be pre
brate with them that rite which would have no more meaning after the morrow. Then the substance would supersede the shadow; the type give place to the anti-type; the figure pass into the fact. Never more would He have the opportunity. No more need would there be for it. For it is about to be fulfilled or completed in that scene of God's Church and Kingdom which is next to dawn.1 That table gives birth to another Passover, both typical and true.2 This cup, a cup of wine mingled with water, seems to have been that first cup in the Paschal meal, with which the whole was introduced. Not only would He never again taste of the Paschal cup, but not till after His resurrection would He drink at all of the fruit of the Vine. Then that next stage in God's Church and Kingdom would be reached."
HE WASHETH HIS DISCIPLES' FEET.
St. John xiii. 1-5.
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil
having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and .went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
This touching incident took place before the celebration of the Passover by the great body of the people, but in the midst of its celebration by our Lord and His Disciples. He, knowing that the time of His departure was at hand, was not in that awe-ful hour so absorbed in His own sorrows as at all to forget His Disciples, but showed them, even in that extremity, a signal instance of His love. Judas even is not exempted from the kindness and condescension shown. There is for him the same grace and good will as for the rest, if only he will receive it. But even then and there, at that time, at that table, the dreadful idea he had already conceived was still present to his degenerating mind. For where will not the evil one penetrate? No place seems too sacred for his assaults. Even at the Table of the Lord he is present with his temptations. Even among the Disciples of the Lord he may find some heart "empty, swept and garnished," prepared for his reception; a heart exercised with covetous practices. This mention here at the outset of this ready tool of the tempter," seems to intimate that even here he was contemplating the completion of his crime. Yet the Lord bears with him, and washes the feet which were swift to go astray. The supper was still going on. This is but an episode in the entertainment. The Evangelist repeats a consideration which may serve to enhance in our eyes this instance of our Lord's humility. It was in the full con42 St. Pet. ii. 14; St. Jude 11, 12. "Thine own heart, the willing slave
In the original it is the present participle, as again in v. 3 below.
2 Augustine (in S. Jo. Tr. lv. 1) speaks here of His love not ending with His death, whose love is without end. He loved them so as to die for them.
3 St. Luke xxii. 3.
To all that works thee woe or harm." The Christian Year, Fourth Sunday after Easter.
• See the original.
7 Vv. 1, 3.