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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Day Five: The Passover Feast

On Thursday, Jesus sends his disciples to Jerusalem (the City) to find a room for them to use for the Passover celebration. Jesus and his disciples have their last meal together, with Judas still present. The Commentary points out the dizzying symbolism of this meal, which includes the words used by Christians today in Communion. The bread is Jesus' body offered for you; the wine is the blood of the new covenant.

What does it mean that Jesus offered his body to us? Does it mean it was willingly executed? Does it mean he gave his whole life to spreading a new truth that he was compelled to spread?

What is the new covenant? Is it forgiveness of sins, as the adherents of substitutional atonement would teach us? Is the new covenant that whoever believes in, has faith in, follows, Jesus will participate in eternal (not just everlasting but eternal) life? Is the new covenant the love of YHWH is unleashed on the world and not confined to a single ethnic group?

Academic note: Borg gently suggests that it is difficult to know the historical accuracy of the words Jesus used at the last supper with his disciples. It seems uncharacteristically politic of Borg. Perhaps the origin of the Eucharistic matra, which would have been established when the gospel of Mark was written, was a metaphor Jesus offered his disciples on that night. A second trip down academia, John puts the last supper as the day before Passover. In John, Jesus is executed at the very moment the lambs for Passover are slaughtered. Nice touch.

The supper concludes with the painful bits of denial. Jesus can no longer keep quiet about (1) his knowledge that Judas has struck a deal and (2) that the rest of his disciples will betray him. He sets up one of the most poignant moments of the Passion by telling Peter he will deny Christ three times before the cock crows. Mark 14:12-31.

And Thursday is not over yet.

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