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The Lord’s Evening Meal

The Lord’s Evening Meal

MATTHEW 26:21-29 MARK 14:18-25 LUKE 22:19-23 JOHN 13:18-30



Earlier this evening Jesus taught his apostles a lesson in humility by washing their feet. Now, apparently after the Passover meal, he quotes David’s prophetic words: “The man at peace with me, one whom I trusted, who was eating my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” Then he explains: “One of you will betray me.”​—Psalm 41:9; John 13:18, 21.

The apostles look at one another, and each asks: “Lord, it is not I, is it?” Even Judas Iscariot does so. Peter urges John, who is next to Jesus at the table, to find out who it is. So John leans close to Jesus and asks: “Lord, who is it?”​—Matthew 26:22; John 13:25.

Jesus answers: “It is the one to whom I will give the piece of bread that I dip.” Dipping some bread in a dish on the table, Jesus hands it to Judas, saying: “The Son of man is going away, just as it is written about him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (John 13:26; Matthew 26:24) Satan then enters Judas. This man, already corrupt, now gives himself over to do the Devil’s will and thus becomes “the son of destruction.”​—John 6:64, 70; 12:4; 17:12.

Jesus tells Judas: “What you are doing, do it more quickly.” The other apostles imagine that Judas, who is holding the money box, is being told: “‘Buy what we need for the festival,’ or that he should give something to the poor.” (John 13:27-30) Instead, Judas goes off to betray Jesus.

On this same evening as the Passover meal, Jesus introduces an entirely new type of meal. He takes a loaf, says a prayer of thanks, breaks it, and gives it to his apostles to eat. He says: “This means my body, which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) The piece of bread is passed around, and the apostles eat of it.

Now Jesus takes a cup of wine, says a prayer of thanks over it, and passes it to them. Each drinks from the cup, about which Jesus says: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.”​—Luke 22:20.

Thus Jesus arranges for a memorial of his death that his followers are to hold each year on Nisan 14. It will call to mind what Jesus and his Father have done to enable men of faith to escape from the condemnation of sin and death. Even more so than did the Passover for the Jews, it highlights true liberation for believing mankind.

Jesus says that his blood “is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.” Among the many to gain such forgiveness are his faithful apostles and others like them. They are the ones who will be with him in the Kingdom of his Father.​—Matthew 26:28, 29.