Of the four Gospels, Luke offers us the most serene account of the Last Supper. In contrast, the others place Jesus’ foresight of His betrayal before the meal, which gave rise to emotional upset between the Disciples and probably indigestion! In Luke, the discord follows the meal.
As Christians, we have probably attended countless Communion services: for some, it is weekly; for others, less frequently. The ways in which this Sacrament is administered in our denomination, and across the Christian world, are many and varied.
As familiar and comfortable as we may be with how Communion is administered in our churches, let us remember that Jesus’ words and actions on that evening were momentous: He departed from the centuries-old Passover tradition.
A few years ago, I participated in an inter-faith radio project, during which I spent time with an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. During one of our conversations, he described to me how Jesus’ words about the bread being His body, and the wine being His blood would have been received by Jewish believers with shock – putting it mildly!
By the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, some 20 years after the events – the very text recited at our Communion services – had lost the raw emotion which those present at the Last Supper would have felt. Yet during Holy Week, we allow ourselves to revisit what we, euphemistically, call ‘The Passion’.
Although not to everyone’s taste, two films evoke ‘The Passion’ for me: the Rice/Lloyd-Webber musical “Jesus Christ, Superstar” and Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of The Christ”. The musical explores individuals’ profound and life-changing responses to Jesus; and the film exposes us to the sheer horror of His sacrifice.
As we journey together through Holy Week, may God grant us the grace to experience ‘The Passion’ afresh.