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The Last Supper (Luke 22:1-23)

Introduction

Those of you who know me rather well realize that I am, at heart and in fact, a country boy. Well, I had a rather embarrassing thing happen to me while I was driving through some cattle country in east Texas a few weeks ago. I saw an animal standing by a water tank, but I could not tell for certain whether it was a horse or a cow. You must believe that this is normally not a difficult decision for me. Since I was driving with a fellow even older and wiser in the ways of rural life, I asked him what it was. With a glitter in his eye, he responded, “Well, I’d guess that it was about the longest-necked cow I ever did see, but if you told me it was a big-bellied horse I shore wouldn’t call you a liar!” Regardless of what you might be thinking, that animal had what seemed to be the characteristics of both a cow and a horse.

I know you are beginning to wonder what all of this has to do with the biblical account of the Last Supper, recorded in the gospel of Luke, chapter 22. Quite frankly, it is a problem similar to that which I faced with that animal standing by that water tank. The Last Supper is a kind of hybrid, a mixture of an Old Testament Passover celebration, along with the institution of a New Testament Lord’s Table (or communion) celebration.

An accurate exposition of this passage is crucial to us for several reasons. First of all it deals with one of the two ordinances of the church established by our Lord. If this celebration described in Luke 22 is not a typical observance of the Lord’s table (as I will endeavor to prove), then we are in danger of error when we use it as a pattern for our communion remembrances today.

Also, this passage is the source of three difficult problems to which the careful student of Scripture should have some kind of answer.

The first major problem which we face in this passage is a textual one.116 One of the Greek manuscripts omits the last half of verse 19 and all of verse 20. It would appear that this deletion was an attempt to solve the problem raised by the reference to two different cups of wine in the passage. Such a change in the text seems completely unnecessary to me.

The second problem is one of harmony and chronology.117 It hinges on an apparent discrepancy between the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and the gospel of John. It is a significant problem because of its implications, first with regard to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, then for the interpretation of the Last Supper, and finally for a determination of the day on which our Lord was put to death. A casual reading of the synoptic gospels would seem to indicate that Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples, while John’s account would have Him put to death before its enactment (cf. John 18:28). While the explanations of this problem may differ, conservative scholars would agree that there is a solution.

The third problem relates to the great controversy over the precise meaning of the words of Jesus, “This is My body.” Roman Catholicism believes that each remembrance of the Lord’s death is a reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ, and that the elements actually become the literal flesh and blood of the Savior.118 Others hold that while such a miraculous transformation is not necessary, the Lord is somehow present with, but not in, the elements as they are partaken.119 In either of these cases, the observance is regarded as a sacrament, the actual conveyance of grace to the participant. The preferable interpretation, that this is the symbolic remembrance of our Lord’s death, avoids this error, while stressing the significance and symbolic meaning of this ordinance.120

It should be safe to assume that this event of the Last Supper is significant for every Christian to rightly understand and apply.

The Setting of the Last Supper

It is very difficult for the western mind to grasp what took place on this night without considerable preparation of mind. There is little in our own culture and experience that we can relate to this event. We shall assume, on much evidence, that this meal was, indeed, a Passover celebration.121

The Passover feast commenced the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a week-long celebration. Preparations for the Passover meal began on Thursday morning with a diligent search for any leaven which might be in the house. Leaven was not to be used in the bread which was baked in preparation for the original exodus from Egypt because there would not be time to bake bread that would have to rise (Exodus 12:34). Also, leaven was a symbol of evil, and was therefore not to be present (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Also, on Thursday morning the unleavened bread would be prepared for the feast. In the afternoon, the Passover lamb would be taken to the temple and slain. After sunset the actual Passover meal was observed. Normally, this was a family gathering, with not less than ten, nor usually more than twenty at the table.

The Passover liturgy related to the meal as it was observed in the days of our Lord has been preserved:

“(1) Preliminary course. The head of the household pronounced the prayer of sanctification (qiddus), comprising the benediction for the festival and the first cup (the qiddus cup). The preliminary course (karpas), consisting of green herbs, bitter herbs and a sauce of fruit juice was eaten without bread. The meal was brought in but not yet eaten, the second cup was mixed with water and placed on the table, but not yet drunk.

(2) The Passover liturgy. The Passover service, in which the head of the household explained the special features of the Passover meal (Exod. 12:26) and proclaimed the outline of the story, the haggadah; the first part of the Passover Hallel (Psa. 113f.) was sung and the second cup (haggadah cup) was drunk.

(3) The main meal. The head of the household pronounced a benediction over the unleavened bread, which was distributed and the meal eaten which consisted of the Passover Lamb, mazzoth, bitter herbs (Exod. 12:8) and wine (optional). After grace the third cup (cup of blessing) was drunk.

(4) Conclusion. The second part of the Hallel (Pss. 115-118) was sung and a benediction pronounced over the fourth cup (Hallel cup).” 122

The biblical text gives us other significant backdrop to the Last Supper. In verses 7-13 Luke told of the preparations that were made for the supper. It is obvious that the location and details of the Last Supper were a closely guarded secret. The disciples did not know where the Passover was to be held nor what preparations had been made. Luke alone tells us that Peter and John (two of the most intimate of the disciples) were sent to handle the preparations. They were not told the location of the house123 where they were to gather, but were to discern that by a set of circumstances, all of which were out of the ordinary. They would see a man carrying a clay water vessel. This was unusual because normally these pots were borne by the women, while men carried water in skins. When they followed this man to his destination they were to ask the owner of the house for a room for the Teacher to use to keep the Passover (verse 11). He would then show them where they were to make their preparations.

All of this shroud of secrecy was on account of Judas, who had already agreed to betray the whereabouts of the Lord, and who waited for an opportune time, out of the sight of the crowds (verses 3-6). So far as Judas was concerned there would have been no better time than during the meal itself. Jesus carefully removed this option by keeping Judas ‘in the dark’ until it was too late for him to notify the officials as to their exact place of meeting. Judas, you will recall (John 13:27-30), left sometime during the meal to disclose the location where Jesus could be apprehended. I suspect that he led the temple guard first to the upper room, and, then, finding Him already gone, began to search for Him at some of His most frequently used places of refuge and privacy.

John includes the account of the washing of the feet of the disciples by our Lord (John 13:1-11). It was customary for the feet of the guests of a house to be washed as they entered. This would usually be done by the lowest slave. When the disciples entered the upper room it seems as though no one saw the basin and the water and towel waiting at the entrance to the upper room. Personally, I suspect that they were all too preoccupied with their efforts to be seated in the place of honor at the table. We do know that there was a spirit of self-assertion and the disciples, at this very meal, disputed over who was regarded as the greatest (verse 24).

Early in the Passover observance,124 Jesus removed his garments, girded Himself with a towel, and began to wash the feet of the disciples. It is probable that He began with Peter, who seems to have been reclining across from Jesus at the end of the table. Peter absolutely recoiled at the implications of this action by His Lord. They may have been wrong to have failed to wash one another’s feet, but Peter was not about to allow Jesus to undertake such a humble task.

What seemed such a magnanimous reticence and refusal on Peter’s part was met with a strong rebuke, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8). Peter failed to grasp the fact that this matter of footwashing by our Lord symbolized the underlying purpose and spirit of our Lord’s coming. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). In the laying aside of His garments and assuming the role and work of a slave, Jesus beautifully portrayed what has been called the ‘kenosis’ (emptying) of Jesus Christ, described by Paul in Philippians chapter two. In order to bring redemption and salvation to men, Jesus willingly set aside His rightful claims to submission and service as God; He veiled His splendor and visible glory in human flesh, and came to die as a transgressor in the place of sinful man.

For Peter to refuse to allow Jesus to wash his feet was to reject the underlying principle upon which the mission of Jesus was based. More than this, to reject the principle of servanthood was to refuse one of the primary prerequisites of discipleship. No wonder Peter could have no part with Jesus and deny servanthood.

Peter characteristically overreacted. If this were the case, he would not be content with a mere footwashing; he would like a complete bath. Such enthusiasm, while commendable, was not necessary. Those who have been bathed (once for all) by regeneration (cf. Titus 3:5) need not have another bath, but only such daily washing as daily contact with the world requires.

We have spent considerable time in considering the scene of the Last Supper. Only one matter yet remains to be described, and that is the underlying mood(s) of this gathering. This is very important, I believe, because so many go back to this supper as the pattern for our observance of the Lord’s Table, and therefore, to be consistent, we should by all rights reproduce the mood as well. What, then, was the prevailing mood of this meal?

Surely it was one of expectation and anticipation. The events of the past week had risen popular messianic expectations to a crescendo. Something had to happen. Was the kingdom about to be ushered in? Mixed with this excitement and expectation was a kind of dread, for Jesus had clearly said to His disciples that He was going up to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 20:17-19), and to some extent the disciples sensed that death awaited Him and them in Jerusalem (John 11:16).

There was also an atmosphere of contention and strife, and personal attitudes of self-aggrandizement. Each man argued with the rest about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24). There was also a distinct mood of grief concerning our Lord’s disclosure of the fact that He would die and that this would be achieved by a betrayer, who was one of the twelve.

All in all, it was not the ideal mood for a remembrance of the Passover, nor for the institution of the Lord’s Table. While we may wish it to have been some other way, we know our own hearts well enough to believe that such an atmosphere is realistic. It may not have been a lovely scene, but it was a likely one.

The Last Supper
(22:14-23)

Several observations are crucial to our understanding of this event. First of all, let me remind you of my assumption that this meal was, indeed, a Passover celebration.125 It is significant that while the other gospels refer to the twelve as ‘the twelve’ or ‘the disciples,’ Luke here uses the term ‘apostles’ (verse 14). I believe this is significant. Normally the Passover meal was a family celebration, and not just a gathering of men. The fact that the ‘apostles’ were alone with Jesus suggests that this event had particular significance for the church, of which the apostles were the foundation (Ephesians 2:20). Here is one of the evidences that while this meal had implications for the Jews, it was designed also for the church.

Second, I would underscore the intense desire of our Lord to gather with the twelve for this meal: “And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).

I suspect that this statement is pregnant with meaning. To begin with, let me suggest that it is hard to conceive that Jesus earnestly desired to eat this meal with the twelve because of the sympathetic understanding He would receive from them. While He knew that all but one truly loved Him, they had no real grasp of what shape His mission was about to take. While He thought of the cross, they argued about their crowns (verse 24).

I believe that from the viewpoint of God this Passover meal was the final observance of this feast, for all that it had memorialized was about to be greatly overshadowed by the work of the cross. Also, all that it anticipated was, in fact, achieved or made certain. Jesus was the Passover Lamb. There was no longer any need to put a lamb to death for the type had been superceded by its antitype, its fulfillment. The old covenant, being fulfilled in Christ, was to be set aside. The Kingdom, while still future, was certain to be established, because Messiah, at His first advent, had laid its foundation by His sacrificial death (cf. Isaiah 52:13–53:12). When Jesus once again takes up the cup, it will be in His Kingdom (verses 16,18). The eager anticipation of our Lord relates largely to the achievement of God’s purposes, and also to the association He has with God’s people at this meal.

There is, in my estimation, a distinct break between verses 18 and 19. Verses 15-18 describe the final observance of the Passover, now obsolete, so to speak, because of its supercession by the institution of the Lord’s Table. We should not at all be disturbed by the presence of the first cup, for it was simply one of the four cups associated with the Passover celebration. This cup was to be taken one final time, not to be taken up again until the establishment of the Kingdom.

In verses 19 and 20 our attention is turned from culmination and termination of the Passover celebration to the initiation of the Lord’s Table. Here, the symbols on the table which were a part of the Passover were reinvested with new meaning in the light of the work which the Lord Jesus was about to undertake. More than this, they symbolize the establishment of a new covenant between God and men. This is the new covenant which was prophesied by Jeremiah of old (Jeremiah 31:31-34). While the blood of the Passover lamb sufficed to withhold the judgment of God for a time, the blood of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, actually took away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

The unleavened bread symbolizes the incarnation of God in human flesh. One Who had no sin in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). While the bread pertains to the earthly body and sinless life of the Lord Jesus, the wine is a visual symbol of His shed blood and violent death as the divine provision for men’s forgiveness of sin.

As I understand Luke’s account of the Last Supper, it is a subtle blending of two great symbolic remembrances, that of the Old Testament Passover and the New Testament ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. As such, this is a unique event, never again to be repeated in the form (or with the mood) that it was in that upper room hours before the death of the Savior. While the two events, the Passover and the Lord’s Table, are related, they are not to be equated, nor to be remembered simultaneously, for the greater has made unnecessary the lesser.

The Last Supper, then, is never again to be reenacted. It was a unique event, intended to terminate one ceremony and to institute another. The Lord’s Supper is to be understood as having some similarities to both the Passover celebration of the Old Testament, and the Last Supper of the gospels, but yet fully unique, and exclusive so far as our present-day obligation to continue its observance. We are no more to equate our remembrance of the Lord’s Table with the Last Supper than we are to identify our baptism with the baptism of the Lord Jesus by John, for they are not the same at all. Related, yes; but completely distinct.

Application

What does all this mean in practical terms? First of all, it does not mean that we have no obligation to remember the Lord’s Supper. I have suggested that our obligation does not come from the gospel accounts of the Last Supper, nor does the pattern for our remembrance of the Lord. Our authority comes, I believe, from apostolic precept and apostolic practice. Paul’s instruction concerning the Lord’s Table was that which he received from the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:23). What was taught by Paul in the epistles was practiced by the churches in Acts. It would appear that while the Lord’s Table was daily observed in the first days of the church (Acts 2:46), the settled practice was that it was done on the first day of each week during the assembly of the whole church (cf. Acts 20:7).

This passage in Luke suggests that we are wrong when we pattern our observance of this ordinance after that in the gospels. We must remember that while the Last Supper anticipated the death of the Lord Jesus, the Lord’s Supper memorializes it. While the atmosphere at the Last Supper was more akin to that of a funeral, the Lord’s Supper, while a solemn remembrance is a joyful one, more in the spirit of that meal recorded later by Luke in chapter 24, after the Lord had been raised from the dead.

I am greatly puzzled and perplexed by those who seem so lackadaisical about the remembrance of our Lord. Some seem to think that it makes little difference whether one does so weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Our Lord greatly desired this meal with the twelve, and I believe that our remembrance of Him is pleasing to Him. While the New Testament nowhere commands that we remember our Lord weekly, it would seem that this was the practice of the New Testament churches (Acts 20:7) . The only two options which the Scriptures reveal is that of daily and weekly observance.

“But such frequent repetition can become dull and monotonous,” people protest. You must excuse me for being so frank, but I have yet to hear a couple deeply in love with each other protesting frequent physical expression of their love for each other. (And personally, I believe that our physical relationship with our mates is illustrative and instructive concerning our spiritual intimacy with Christ.) You see, when we observe the Lord’s Supper each week we do not remember an institution or an ordinance, we remember our Lord Himself. “Keep on doing this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19b, my translation).

The waning of our desire to express spiritual intimacy with our Lord is indicative, all too often, of a coldness of heart. Only Judas (as I understand it) chose not to be at the table with our Lord as this Last Supper was concluded and the Lord’s Supper was instituted.

While impressed with the significance of this Last Supper, I cannot overlook its simplicity. It is described in the most ordinary term. There is no elaborate ceremony given in explicit detail as, for example, we would find in the Old Testament. It is amazing how ceremony can often overshadow the symbolism of such an event. If there were ceremony detailed for us we would concentrate our attention and our energies on reproducing these same ritualistic forms. Spirituality, like beauty, is closely related to simplicity. Where deadness occurs, ceremony shortly follows. We are prone to substitute ritual for reality, details for devotion.

“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42).

Finally, I see in this event an excellent example of the way in which we must deal with the events and instructions of the Old Testament. Over and over people ponder how they should interpret and apply the Old Testament. One of my Hebrew professors, Dr. Bruce Waltke, once wisely advised, “When interpreting the Old Testament always ask the question, ‘Does the New Testament ratify, modify, or abrogate (nullify) this Old Testament teaching?’” As I understand the Last Supper, it does a little of each.126


116 “There is a textual problem here of great difficulty. In the ‘shorter’ text, followed by NEB, Goodspeed, where verses 19b-20 are omitted, the cup is given before the bread. In the ‘longer’ text (RSV, TEV, JB, Common Bible) the cup is mentioned twice. The shorter text is favoured by many on the grounds that the words are not likely to have been omitted if original and that they look like an insertion from I Corinthians 11:24f. to bring the passage into line with current liturgical practice. It is countered that the disputed words are found in all Greek MSS save one (Codex D) that Justin Martyr accepted them c. AD 150 (Apology i. 66; this is older than our oldest Greek MS) and that they may have been ommitted by scribes who could not understand two references to the cup. On the whole it seems that the longer text is to be preferred.” Leon Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 305.

117 The problem, simply stated, is this. John’s gospel clearly sets the time of the death of Christ at the same hour in which the Passover lambs were being slain (John 18:28; 19:14,36). In apparent contradiction to this, the synoptic gospels speak of the last supper as though it were the observance of the actual Passover. There is therefore an apparent 24-hour discrepancy in the gospels. In the synoptics, Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples; in John, Jesus was the Passover Lamb, put to death at the time of the slaughter of the Passover lamb, before the Passover meal was eaten.

Liberal ‘scholars’ have little difficulty here. They delight in pointing out this ‘error’ to the conservative, who holds to biblical inerrancy. They are free to accept John’s account and discard the synoptics as inaccurate, or to regard the synoptics as correct, and John to be in error.

Conservative scholarship has posed several possible harmonizations of the gospel records, three of which are currently most popular: (1) On the basis of some historical data, it is known that there was a division within the nation as to when the month of Nisan was to commence. Because of this confusion over the calendar, there ended up being two days on which the passover lambs were slaughtered and two days on which Passover was observed, one, a day earlier than the other. Jesus could then have observed the (first) Passover with the disciples, while He died as the true Passover Lamb on the second, a day later. (2) There is also evidence that some (perhaps the Galilean Jews) commenced the new day in the morning, at daybreak, while the Judean Jews began the new day in the evening at six o’clock. If such were the case, the synoptics were reckoning from the Galilean time frame, and John from the Judean.

A third view, held by a number of conservative scholars, contends that there is no real discrepancy between John’s account and the synoptics. Every alleged problem is explained individually. For further reference on this complicated matter, consult: Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), pp. 75-90; Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), pp. 649-670. R.T. France, I Came to Set the Earth on Fire (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1976), pp. 136-140. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), pp. 774-785.

118 This view is usually called ‘transubstantiation’ by the theologians: “The theory of transubstantiation, accepted by Rome as a dogma in 1215, is an attempt to explain the statements of Christ: “This is my body,” and “This is my blood” (Mark 14:22,24) as applied to the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. It is insisted that the “is” must be taken with the strictest literalism. But to our senses the bread and wine seem to remain exactly as they were even when consecrated. There is no perceptible miracle of transformation. The explanation is found in terms of a distinction between the so-called “substance” (or true reality) and the “accidents” (the specific, perceptible characteristics). The latter remain, but the former, i.e., the substance of bread and wine, is changed into that of the body and blood of Christ.” Geoffrey W. Bromiley, “Transubstantiation,” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960), p. 530.

119 This theory is labled ‘consubstantiation.’ It is the view of Lutheran theologians: “In Luther’s own language, the actual body and blood of Christ exist “in, with, or under” the elements of bread and wine. No permanent association is postulated: the relationship is confined to the sacramental action. The transformation is effected by the Word of God, not by priestly consecration.” A. Skevington Wood, “Consubstantiation,” Ibid., p. 138.

120 “The taking, breaking and distribution of bread were regular features of the Passover observance and would cause no surprise. But as He gave it to His followers Jesus said, This is my body. These words have caused tremendous controversy in the church. The critical point is the meaning of is. Some argue for a change of the bread into the body of Christ, but the verb can mean very various kinds of identification, as we see from such statements as ‘I am the door,’ ‘I am the bread of life,’ ‘that rock was Christ.’ In this case identity cannot be in mind, for Jesus’ body was physically present at the time. It must be used in some such sense as ‘represents,’ ‘signifies,’ or, perhaps, ‘conveys’ (cf. Moffatt, ‘This means…’). The statement is a strong one and should not be watered down, but neither should it be overpressed.” Morris, p. 306.

121 Hoehner summarizes the evidence for this Last Supper being a Passover: “(1) the Synoptics explicitly state that the Last Supper was a Passover (Matth. 26:2,17,18,19; Mark 14:1,12,14,16; Luke 22:1,7,8,13,15). (2) It took place, as required by the Law (Deut. 16:7), within the gates of Jerusalem even though it was so crowded at the time. (3) The Upper Room was made available without difficulty in keeping with the Passover custom. (4) The Last Supper was eaten at night (Matt. 26:20; Mark 14:17; John 13:30; 1 Cor. 11:23) which was an unusual time for a meal. (5) Jesus limited Himself to the twelve rather than eating with the large circle of followers (which corresponds to the Passover custom). (6) A reclining posture at the table was for special occasions only. (7) The meal was eaten in levitical purity (John 13:10). (8) Jesus broke the bread during the meal (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22) rather than as customarily done at the beginningof the meal. (9) Red wine was drunk which was only for special occasions. (10) Some of the disciples thought that Judas left (John 13:29) to purchase items for the feast which would not have been necessary if the Last Supper was a day before the Passover since he would have had the whole next day (Nisan l4) available for this purpose. (11) Some of the disciples thought that Judas left to give to the poor (John 13:29) which was customary on Passover night. (12) The Last Supper ends with the singing of a hymn which would have been the second half of the Passover hallel. (13) Jesus did not return to Bethany which was outside of Jerusalem’s limit but went to spend the night on the Mount of Olives which was within the enlarged city limits for the purpose of the Passover feast. (14) The interpretation of specific elements of the meal was a part of the Passover riitual.” Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), pp. 76-77.

122 B. Klappert, “The Lord’s Supper,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), II, p. 522.

123 It is possible that this house belonged to Mary, the mother of Mark, and that this upper room was frequently used by Jesus and the apostles, though there is no way to conclusively prove this (cf. Acts 1:13; 12:12).

124 Edersheim believes that this footwashing was an adaptation of the customary handwashing which was a part of the Passover ceremony:

“The next part of the ceremonial was for the Head of the Company to rise and ‘wash hands.’ It is this part of the ritual of which St. John records the adapatation and transformation on the part of Christ. The washing of the disciples’ feet is evidently connected with the ritual of ‘handwashing.’ Now this was done twice during the Paschal Supper: the first time by the Head of the Company alone, immediately after the first cup; the second time by all present, at a much later part of the service, immediately before the actual meal (on the Lamb &c.). If the footwashing had taken place on the latter occasion, it is natural to suppose that, when the Lord rose, all the disciples would have followed His example, and so the washing of their feet would have been impossible. Again, the footwashing, which was intended both as a lesson and as an example of humility and service, was evidently connected with the dispute ‘which of them should be appointed to be greatest.’ If so, the symbolical act of our Lord must have followed close on the strife of the disciples, and on our Lord’s teaching what in the Church constituted rule and greatness. Hence the act must have been connected with the first handwashing—that by the Head of the Company—immediately after the first cup, and not with that at a later period, when much else had intervened.” Alford Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), II, p. 497.

Edersheim then goes on to point out the significance of this adaptation: “The act of externalism and self-righteousness represented by the washing of hands, and by which the Head of the Company was to be distinguished from all others and consecrated, He changed into a footwashing, in which the Lord and Master was to be distinguished, indeed, from the others—but by the humblest service of love, and in which He showed by His example what characterised greatness in the Kingdom, and that service was evidence of rule.” Ibid., p. 499

125 Cf. fn. 5, Morris, p. 306.

126 “He spoke the words of institution in the setting of his last celebration of the Passover and “clearly referred to many features of the feast, assimilating some and changing others.…” W. Marxsen, as quoted by Klappert, “The Lord’s Supper,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, II, p. 529.

Related Topics: Christology, Communion