The Passover was at hand.
Jesus sat with his disciples on a hillside just outside the city of Jerusalem. It was still early in the day, but already the shade of a tree was welcomed relief from the sun.
It was the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the lamb was to be killed for the Passover meal. The disciples said to Jesus, “Master, where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
Jesus said to them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jar will meet you there. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher says, My hour has come. We will celebrate the Passover at your house.’ He will show you to an upstairs room, and there you will make the Passover feast ready.”
And so the disciples walked down the hillside and entered the city.
Inside the city walls, the hot, dusty streets were crowded with people. Like the disciples, they had traveled to Jerusalem from all over the countryside to celebrate the Passover.
Still, even in those crowded streets, the disciples found things just as Jesus said they would.
They shook the dust from their feet as best they could and entered the house the man with the water jar had led them to. And there they prepared the Passover meal.
When evening came, Jesus joined his disciples in the upper room.
They had just sat down at the table when Jesus rose, removed his outer robe, and tied a towel around his waist. He poured water into a large basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel.
When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, how can I let my Lord stoop down to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash your feet, you will no longer be my disciple.”
Peter said, “Not just my feet then! Wash my face and hands as well!”
Jesus smiled at Peter warmly. Then he put his robe back on and returned to the table. “Do you understand what I have just done? You call me Master and Lord, and that is right. So, if I, your Master and Lord, have stooped down to serve you, even more then should you serve each other.”
As they were eating, Jesus became deeply saddened and said, “One of you is about to betray me.”
The disciples looked at each other in shock. One by one they asked Jesus, “Is it me, Lord?”
“Master, can it be me?” said one.
“Surely you don’t mean me!” said another.
“I would never betray you!” said a third.
But as Jesus was dipping his bread into a bowl, he quietly said, “The one who dips his bread with me will betray me.” Just as he did, Judas dipped his bread into the same bowl. “Surely, you don’t mean me!” he said, though none of the other disciples but one heard any of this.
“Go, and do what you must do,” Jesus said, and at once Judas got up from the table and went out into the night.
The other disciples looked at each other, wondering what might be happening.
Then Jesus took a piece of bread, lifted it up, and gave thanks to God. He took the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying,
“Take, and eat. This is my body, given for you. Do this in memory of me.”
Then he took the cup of wine, gave thanks to God, and gave it to them. “This is my blood, poured out for many. It is the blood of the new covenant, given for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink this wine again until I drink the new wine with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
The disciples couldn’t know it at the time, but Jesus was telling them that he was about to become the one, true Passover lamb. His life was going to be given once and for all, so that we all might live with him forever. His blood was going to be poured out so that our sins would be forever forgiven.
After the meal, they sang a hymn, and then they went out into the night, to the Mount of Olives.
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Bible Stories for Kids by Paul Dallgas-Frey
. Copyright © Paul Dallgas-Frey. All rights reserved.