Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. (Luke 22:7, NLT)
Luke’s account of the Passion of Jesus begins by pointing out that the Festival of Unleavened Bread – the Passover – had arrived. It was the time when the Passover lamb would be sacrificed. And, it marked the beginning of the suffering of Jesus, our Passover lamb, who would soon be sacrificed for our sins.
As the day began, Jesus sent two of the disciples, Peter and John, to make the preparations for the Passover meal. Jesus knew what that evening and the days that followed would bring and His desire was to share the Passover meal with His disciples before His suffering began. When the time came for the meal, Jesus and the disciples gathered in an upper room, where they sat around the table to begin their meal (Luke 22:7-16). What happened next was to become one of the great ordinances of the Christian church – the Lord’s Supper, or Communion.
Jesus took the bread and wine, gave thanks for them, and gave them to His disciples. As He did, He told them that the bread was His body, the body that He was giving for them, the body that would bear the scars that rightfully belonged to us, the body that would bear the punishment for our sins. As He passed the cup of wine, He told them that it represented a new covenant between God and His people, a covenant that would be bought with Jesus’ own blood. As He shared this bread and wine, representing His body and His blood, He gave the disciples instructions that were not just for them, but for all believers who would be added to the body of Christ. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” And so, to this day we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us as we share in communion (Luke 22:17-20).
It was after Jesus shared this beautiful meal with His disciples that His suffering, His Passion, truly began. That night, Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own disciples (Luke 22:47-48). Another disciple would deny even knowing Him, not once but three times (Luke 22:54-62). In the Garden of Gethsemane, He would pray with such anguish over what was to come that He would sweat blood (Luke 22:41-44). He would be arrested, then tried by the religious leaders, the council, at the home of the high priest Caiaphas. Throughout that night, Jesus would be beaten and humiliated (Matthew 26:57-68).
Although Scripture does not mention it, following His trial before the council, it is likely that Jesus was thrown into the dungeon beneath the home of Caiaphas, a dark, cold pit, to wait until He was brought before the Roman governor, Pilate. On our February 2018 trip to Israel, we had the opportunity to visit the site of the house of Caiaphas and go down into this dungeon. Being in that place, one could imagine the suffering and pain that Jesus must have felt as he sat there, alone.
What would happen the next day would be much worse, a suffering and death that no one should ever have to endure, but one which Jesus endured so that we would be set free from the bondage of sin and death, so that one day we may have eternal life in the presence of God.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.