The Last Supper

Matthew 26:20-29

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"

Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."


Mark 14:17-25

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me - one who is eating with me."

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?"

"It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."


Luke 22:14-23

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him." They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.


John 13:18-30

"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'

"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means."

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"

Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.


A possible harmonization:

Jesus first predicted Judas' betrayal by quoting Psalm 41:9, "He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me."

During supper, Jesus said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

Jesus took a cup, gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take it and eat; this is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

After supper, he took a second cup, gave thanks and offered it to the disciples, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (Note: Possibly, Jesus could have said "I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine" once, if the first cup referred to in Luke was really the same as the second. However, Passover celebrations today involve four cups of wine, so it seems more likely that Jesus was observing a similar ceremony with multiple cups of wine.)

Jesus then said (immediately after, or a little later), "The hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table."

The disciples were sad, and each asked him, "Surely not I?"

"It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

John, at Peter's urging, asked Jesus who would betray him. Jesus responded, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." He dipped the bread and gave it to Judas.

Judas took it and asked, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" At this point, Satan entered him.

Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." Then Judas left.


When did Jesus predict his betrayal: before or after instituting communion?

As seen in John, Jesus predicted his betrayal more than once during the evening. But when did he make the prediction where he said, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man"?

The above harmonization is possible because Matthew and Mark each preface the prediction and the institution of communion with "While they were eating, ..." That is, while one incident is described before the other, there's no connecting "then" or other chronological ordering words to indicate which incident occurred first; both occurred while they were eating. Luke, on the other hand, has Jesus making the prediction in the same speech as the communion speech. While this doesn't necessarily mean that Jesus said the one immediately after the other (the recorded speech could be an abbreviated version), it does give more of a chronological ordering than Matthew or Mark.


Which occurred first: the breaking of the bread, or the drinking of the wine?

All three Gospels which record the institution of communion have the bread ("This is my body...") followed by the wine ("This is the blood of the covenant..."). The only difference among them is that Luke mentions another cup before the bread. As noted in the harmonization, it's likely that there was more than one ceremonial drinking of the cup during the evening.


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