Disciple – The Supper
Dawn Farmer

Disciple Series —”The Supper”

Sermon by Dawn Farmer, Desert Springs Bible Church, March 20, 2021

Good morning, my name is Dawn.  I serve as one of the ministers here at DSBC, and today I am honored to be able to share with you as we continue in our series called “Discipleship.”  We’ve been going through the Gospel of Mark together, learning what it means to be disciples of Jesus.  I love this series because the way Pastor Caleb has modeled for us as we’ve gone through this series is that we’ve really focused in on how the ancient church would have heard these words.  We know that at that time there wouldn’t have been multiple copies of the Word.  In fact, there might have but one copy shared among many cities — not just among a church family, but among the many cities.  And so, we’ve been really focusing in on how the ancient church would have experienced the Word in that way.

And as we’ve gone through the Word, we’ve kind of just noticed Jesus’s presence and his compassion — the way He did life.  And so, it’s just a way of understanding what it meant to follow Jesus – and what it meant to follow the Father.  The Father had called Jesus to live His life on Earth, and so I’m excited.

What I’ve noticed as we’ve been going through these chapters in Mark is that Jesus is the teacher.  But we often don’t see Jesus teaching in the way that we, as maybe American academics, might think of it — where there’s a person at the front of the stage or at the front of the room.  Jesus taught by doing.   Jesus taught by saying, come, come with me, see how I handle these situations that you might also encounter.  See how I do life.  And that’s what I want to point out that discipleship means that we are called to do life together in a way that our teacher, Jesus, modeled.

The other thing that I notice, as we’ve been going through this study of Mark, is that if you’ve been in the church for a long time, we often refer to the first church as the church that we see in the Book of Acts.  When I was thinking about this, I was thinking, you know what really this is?  This is Jesus’s boots on the ground, leading His church.  That’s what we see in Mark now.  Through the Gospels, we get this opportunity to see Jesus’s boots on the ground, discipling and leading His church.

And here’s the interesting thing. I think we often think that these people, these disciples of Jesus, men and women, would go on to be church leaders.  But we actually see that maybe many of them go on to be marketplace leaders, business leaders, business owners, home makers, creatives, artists, people who are leading in their community as disciples in various ways.  So, I just want to keep that in mind as we are reading today — as we talk about the disciples — that these disciples were not just future church leaders.

OK, so as you walked in this morning you should have received a handout.  In the handout, we’ve included the text for today, which is Mark 14:12 through 26.  If you’re online, you’re welcome to go grab your print Bible right now. Or you can go online to bible.com. And again, we’re in Mark 14.  We’ll be in the version Christian Standard Bible.  We gave the handout of this to you today, because as we’re noticing Scripture, we’re assuming that you’re going to notice things that maybe somebody else doesn’t notice.  Or maybe you’re going to have questions, so this is an opportunity for you to mark this up.  It’s helpful for you to make notes of what maybe the Spirit brings to mind for you.  Maybe you’ll write a huge question mark, because there are going to be things in this passage that are confusing.

First, as we get ready to read the passage, like I said, we’ve been practicing reading this as the ancient church would have experienced the Scripture, and so I’m going to ask you to listen as I read the passage for today.  And just if you’re comfortable, maybe close your eyes.  Or just reflect and listen to these words and see what comes to mind.  The Word is meant to be experienced and imagined, and so I just want to encourage you to take this time to use your imagination.  Be curious, be creative as you hear these words.

Before I get started, though, this has been a story we’ve been going through, so think about it like your favorite TV show.   Each week we’ve homed in on a little snippet of this story of this narrative.  And so, I’m going to take a moment here, because last week Pastor Caleb talked on the verses before chapter 14, one through 12.  And there were some significant events that happened then that are important for this passage now.  So, if you’re watching your favorite TV show — you’re not bingeing it, but you’re watching it maybe week to week — you really appreciate those little recap moments at the beginning of the show that help you to call to mind some things that had happened before.

Let’s just take a moment to recap those verses one through 12 before we get into the Scripture today.  I want you to have the full context of what our ancient church would have had in their mind.  And so, if you’re imagining on your TV screen, you might hear this low music.  You would see maybe Judas, our enemy in this story, meeting with the chief priest who wants to kill Jesus.  They’re conspiring on some kind of deal in order to trap Jesus.  So that would be the first scene.

Then we would cut to this other scene with maybe this low, beautiful music, and this woman who’s just beautiful walks up to Jesus and breaks this expensive bottle of perfume and pours it over Jesus’s body.  And maybe in the background of this beautiful scene you see these disgruntled disciples.  “I can’t believe she’s doing that!”  And there’s shame and judgment on her.

And then we get to this other scene where there’s this low, confusing music and you hear Jesus say, “Don’t judge her.  She’s preparing my body for burial.”  And then maybe the faces of the disciples in the background are kind of confused.  It’s so frustrating.

So that’s where we’re coming at in this Scripture that we’re going to be reading today.  We know that Judas has made some kind of agreement with the chief priest to betray Jesus.  We know that Jesus is saying His body is being prepared for burial, and we know that there’s some confusion among His people.  OK, here is the Word of the Lord, Mark 14.  Just listen.

“On the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, His disciples asked Him, ‘Where do you want us to go and prepare the Passover so that you may eat it?’  So they sent two disciples and told them go into the city and that a man carrying a jar of water would meet them.  Follow him wherever he enters.  Tell the owner of the house, the teacher says, where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples.  He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.  Make the preparations for us there.  So, the disciples went out, entered the city and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

When evening came, He arrived with the twelve.  While they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.  One who is eating with me.  They began to be distressed and say to Him, one by one, ‘Surely it’s not I.’  He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve.  The one who is dipping bread in the bowl with me.  For the Son of Man will go just as is written about Him.  But woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.  It would have been better for him if he had not been born.’

As they were eating, He took the bread.  He blessed it and He broke it, and He gave it to them.  And He said, ‘Take it, this is my body.’  Then He took the cup and, after giving thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  Truly I tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day, when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.’  After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

This is the word of the Lord.  Now, as you’re picturing this scene, let’s dive into the text and just see what we notice.  Again, in this “Discipleship” series we are focusing on more than just what the spirit might be bringing to your mind as an individual, but in also as a community as we see the Word together.

And so, when we dive in, we’ve looked at the first verse, chapter 14, verse 12.  It says on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrifice the Passover lamb — and I just want to take a time out here and notice that this is probably not a festival that many of us participate in.  This might be confusing for many of us who haven’t studied Jewish culture.  And I want to just say that’s OK.  I know many people struggle in reading Scripture because we believe — again, maybe in our academic American minds — that we should understand everything and get everything that is being told to us.  But that’s not what the Scripture is here for.  In some cases, it’s just to hear it and maybe give us an opportunity to be curious.

In my curiosity, I asked myself, “What is this first day of unleavened bread?”  When they sacrificed the Passover lamb, I was actually reminded of last week, when Pastor Caleb spoke about those first 12 verses.  In Chapter 14, he did a fantastic job of explaining kind of where the history of this Passover comes from, and so I really encourage you to read.  Go back and listen to him if you haven’t already.  It will give a little bit more details and a little bit more fullness to what we’re talking about today.

In short, the Passover was a feast that the Jewish people celebrated every single year.  It reminded them of when God rescued them out of slavery of Egypt.  And through a series of plagues that are gruesome and confusing to our 21st century minds, God rescues them.  But it was the very last plague in which God tells the people, “Unless you kill a lamb and you paint the blood of the lamb over your door, I will kill your first-born son.”  Again, this is confusing. It doesn’t make any sense to our 21st century ears, but that is where this idea of Passover comes from.  So, when the people would paint the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, the Angel of Death would pass over that particular household.  And the lamb was used in place of the first-born son.  Because of this plague, Pharaoh, who was the bad guy at the time, released God’s people and the people were freed.  And they celebrate this, I imagine in a joyful way, because every year it’s a reminder of how God delivered them from one of the worst times in their people’s lives.  Everybody would come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

So, if you’re imagining in your mind, at this point in the story, everybody is coming to Jerusalem, and it’s just packed.  In my mind, I‘m thinking about New York City on New Year’s Eve night, with everybody coming in from everywhere, even all over the country to celebrate this New Year’s Eve.  And it’s a huge deal.  These families are coming together, people they haven’t seen in a long time coming together and just really celebrating this time together.  So that’s where we’re at.

Then we continue.  Scripture says that Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare the Passover so that you may eat it?”  Any good festival, any good gathering includes a really great meal, right?  As I said earlier, I believe Scripture is very clear that there were men and women disciples.  But oftentimes I think when we’re picturing this, we’re only thinking of the 12 men disciples.

According to Scripture, there were hundreds of disciples.  And so, when I’ve read this before or I’ve had this read to me before I’ve usually heard it from a man.  I’ve been led to believe and picture this as two men disciples.  But when I started thinking about this, here’s a question for you: Whenever there’s a big family meal or a big celebration, who’s the one who’s typically preparing all the things that you need for that meal?  The women, right?  And so, when I started thinking about this, I bet there were two women who went out.

We’ve got all the stuff that we bring every year for the Passover.  We’ve got our special pots.  We’ve got our recipe cards for these special dishes and everything that we do normally for Passover.  So, I’m imagining it’s a couple women going to Jesus and asking, “OK, where are we going to have this Passover?”
So, just interesting.  Notice that individuals sometimes will read these passages in different ways, and that’s OK.  OK, I believe again that Scriptures were meant to be creative and imaginative when it’s not super clear.  And it’s not super clear who these disciples were, so let’s continue.

So, He sent two of His disciples and told them go into the city and that a man carrying a jar of water would meet them “Follow him.  Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house the teacher says, “Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples.?  He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.  Make the preparations for us there.” So the disciples went out, entered the city and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

Now again for me in my mind as I’m reading this — and maybe Scripture is not super clear — I’m thinking about these women who are coming to Jesus and saying, “OK, we’ve got all the supplies now.  Where are we going to have this dinner?”  And I’m thinking about this really overwhelmed, busy city.  I don’t know if you guys were here when the Super Bowl came to Phoenix.   All the Airbnb’s and hotels were absolutely packed.  It was impossible to find a place to stay.  And so maybe these women were coming up and thinking, “I hope He has a plan.”  And He did.  He had a plan, and it was awesome.  So, for me as a woman who had been in that spot before, I read this and think, ”Ah, Jesus is so cool.  He thought of every detail and so He prepared.  He made these arrangements with this man with this home so that we can have the Passover.”

But here’s the cool thing. When you read Scripture as a group or with other people who maybe are different than you, you hear a different perspective.  As I was preparing for this message, I was listening to Tim Mackie, who is the producer of the Bible Project.  We’ve shared some of his videos here before, and when he talked about this chapter, he said, “I imagine Jesus as this superspy.  He made these arrangements for this, you know, underground situation, where there’s this stranger who had this big upper room and there’s this secret signal where this man, carrying this jar of water in order to keep everybody safe.”   I thought,” Oh, that’s really interesting.  I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.”  But it is kind of cool.

And then I started thinking.  Why would he need to be a super spy?  And then I remembered that Jesus and the disciples were in danger entering Jerusalem.  We know that because Judas is making this deal with the chief priest to betray Jesus.  And so, something that I wouldn’t have homed in on – something I wouldn’t have imagined in my own reading — because I’m reading with someone else and people who are different than me, I hear a fuller story of what is going on at this time.

And so, Jesus, knowing full well, we see in Scripture, He knows what’s coming, that He is called to be the sacrifice.  But He also knows it’s not time yet.  So, He makes this arrangement with a man that they haven’t worked with before in Jerusalem, so that they can have a private place for Him to meet with His disciples one last time, before He is led to the cross.  So again, just interesting.

We continue.  When evening came, He arrived with the 12.  And while they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me — one who is eating with me.”  Now when I was reading this earlier, I imagined this painting. I’m sure you guys have seen this before.  It’s DaVinci’s version of the Last Supper.  I hope you can see it up there on the screen.  And I see this picture of what that Last Supper looked like, but I want to encourage us and remind us that this is DaVinci’s imagination of what he was reading in that passage.  And maybe not everything is exactly accurate to what Scripture was pointing to.  Not that it’s bad that he has this image or this creativity, but we are in danger when we take someone else’s work and accept it as absolute truth.  And I’ll prove it to you.

When we read Scripture earlier, is there anything in this picture that maybe isn’t an accurate reflection of what Scripture said?  Reclining, right.  Pastor Caleb talked about this last week — that at that time, they wouldn’t have tables and chairs like we’re used to seeing.  They would all be sitting on the floor on cushions, reclining kind of on top of each other in everybody’s space, right?

So, we see here Davinci is not 100% accurate, and maybe it matters. Maybe it doesn’t, but when you read that Scripture that says “one who is with me,” and you’re thinking about maybe 100 disciples in this room.  Jesus is kind of calling out one who is really close to Him.

And we also notice a couple other things that are a little bit different here than maybe the Scripture would have.  Davinci painted this in 15th century Europe, and you notice what most of these men look like.  White, 15th century Europeans.  Except notice this fourth head right here, who is identified as Judas, the bad guy who’s got darker skin.  I wonder if that might affect how we think about what was going on at that time, who the good guys and the bad guys are?

And in reality, I believe Scripture is very clear in that it looks maybe more like this. When they’re coming together, they’re coming together and they’re all coming from different places, different mindsets, different thoughts.  Whereas Davinci paints everybody looking the same except the bad guy.  In reality, maybe everybody was getting called from these different spaces you’ve got.  Maybe someone who is very wealthy next to someone who has very little to their name.  Maybe you’ve got some women.  You’ve got this guy who likes to go fishing.  These couple people, all they ever talk about is politics and how their team is the right team.  And then you’ve got this guy who talks all the time about his favorite sports team, the Cowboys.  He may or may not be named Caleb.  You know this is a group of people who don’t normally come together — wouldn’t want to even sit next to each other — but Jesus brings them together in this room. They don’t all look the same.  And then just another funny note is why are they all sitting on one side of the table?  If you’ve ever prepared a meal for a lot of people, you use every space you possibly can, right?  But anyway, DaVinci did the best he could.

Let’s continue.  Jesus had just said to them in that picture — and I believe Davinci did get this right — Jesus had just said, “Somebody going to betray me.  Somebody who’s close to me.” And then you hear the disciples begin to be distressed and say to him, one by one, surely not me.  You see this in DaVinci’s painting.

You’ve got all these different emotional reactions to what Jesus is saying, and it really calls attention to us. Instead of them thinking about Jesus being betrayed, their immediate first thought was, “Is it me?”  When we have that mindset, how we interact with other people — we’re always in that defensive, on-guard kind of place.

And Jesus says to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread in the bowl with me.  For the Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him.”  So, Jesus is reminding His disciples, and again they don’t know what’s really coming.  We have the ability to look back.  We’ve read Scripture.  We’ve heard Scripture, and we know what’s coming.  They don’t know what’s coming.  They have no context.  Jesus is using this last opportunity to remind them.  It has been written, you know this is coming.

Then he goes on to say, “But woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed.  It would have been better for him if he had not been born.”  And I just want to remind us that Jesus’s ways are not our ways.  And when I read this first and maybe many of you read it this way too, I thought, “Yeah, of course.  Judas should get what is owed to him.  He hurt the one I loved.  He betrayed Jesus.  How could he do that?  Of course, he deserves every possible evil thing that could happen to him.

But then, as we’ve been going through Scripture — and as we’ve been learning about the character of Jesus and how He was with people that we don’t expect him to be with, and how he showed compassion and grace for people that we wouldn’t normally give compassion and grace for — I wonder if he had compassion for Judas in this moment.

We know from Scripture that later Judas actually kills himself.  And for him to be in that place, I imagine there was so much shame and guilt and just unbelievable pressure of what he had done.  Unsure of what part he has played in this in order for him to kill himself.  And I imagine Jesus knew that.  And when He’s saying “Woe to this man,” I’m betting He’s feeling what Judas might be feeling at that time and having compassion and love for him.  For Judas

And so, just to notice that maybe sometimes — when we are sitting across from the people that we think Jesus could not possibly love — Jesus’s ways are not our ways.  And so, we can just take a deep breath for a moment.

We just found out that Judas is the one that’s going to betray Him.  We find out that Jesus is going to die, and this is all really heavy.  And then if we’re going back to our TV series and we stop for a minute, maybe Peter will pop in right here and say, “OK, you think that’s crazy?  You won’t believe what’s coming next.  Are you guys ready?  What’s coming next?”

As they were eating, He took the bread and broke it and gave it to them and said, “Take this, this is my body.”  So Jesus says He’s going to die.  And right now, they’re celebrating the Passover.  They’re talking about when God delivered them from Egypt out of slavery and the lamb was used as a sacrifice for the first-born son, as a replacement for the death of the first-born son.  Then, as they’re eating this meal and thinking about this, Jesus takes the bread.  He breaks it and He says, “Guys, this is my body.  It’s broken for you.”  And that might have tied a couple things together for them, thinking about the Passover lamb and thinking about what role Jesus is going to play.  And I believe He’s hoping that when everything happens tomorrow — when Jesus is crucified and on the cross and the disciples feel like falling apart – He hopes they remember Jesus saying, “Listen, my body is going to be broken for you.”

And then it gets crazier.  Then He took the cup and, after giving thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  He said to them,” This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”  This is totally crazy, because there’s literally a law in Jewish law that says don’t drink blood.  And Jesus is saying here, this cup is my blood.  I don’t believe it was actually blood.  I know the disciples realized that this is a representation, but it was still strange language.  But if you remember, when a covenant is made in the Old Testament, in ancient church times, there’s always blood involved.  Always there’s a sacrifice of some sort, and usually it is God making a covenant with people and the people are making some kind of a sacrifice back to God.  But Jesus is saying, OK, I’m offering you my blood. This is the blood for the covenant.

So instead of you having to kill a lamb or kill some animal in order to seal this covenant, I’m offering myself as that covenant blood.  You don’t have to do the work.  I’m doing it for you.  This is a gift I’m giving to you.  But this would have been weird.  This would have been strange for the disciples to hear.  Now again, some of them might remember some of the Old Testament passages that tie these things together, but still, it’s something to think about.

If you’re imagining this time when they’re together, they’re in celebration there.  It’s a joyous time.  All these people who maybe they haven’t seen in a long time.  You’re coming together.  It’s kind of chaotic, right?  And you’re listening to the people complain about politics or the Cowboys, or you know, oh, can we just love everybody?  And then Jesus is dropping these really heavy thoughts and really heavy truths on His people.  As they continued, He said, ‘Truly, I will tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it in the new Kingdom of God.”  And again, this is pointing back to prophecy in the Old Testament, just again helping them to see that Jesus is the one that God was sending to be the Savior for them.  And after singing to Him, they went out to the Mount of Olives. This is part of their Passover tradition.  Then they went to the Mount of Olives, where we’ll see Jesus’s famous prayer before He goes to the cross.

Today I want to give us an opportunity to partner or to be there in the room with the disciples.  And so, we’ve been imagining this. We’ve been thinking about what they might be bringing in the room, and this is a moment for us to kind of sit and reflect on what that might look like, what it might mean for us if you heard Jesus say, “This is my body and blood, given for you.”

And so, we’re going to get ready to take communion.  In Scripture. that’s called the Last Supper.  It’s referred to the Last Supper.  We call it communion, and so if you would, you can grab the cups that are in the seat back in front of you if you’re in the room.  If you are online, you’re welcome to grab for yourself whatever might represent the bread and the blood.

Yeah, go ahead and open those.  Let’s get that sound out of the way in the room, and then we’re going to take about a minute just to reflect.  Take a minute to imagine you’re sitting on the floor, reclining on a cushion in that room with the disciples.  And Jesus is sharing these really heavy, curious, interesting words with you.  And what it might mean for us personally as we go out into the world today.

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, the night before He goes to the cross, He takes a piece of bread, He breaks it and says, “Take and eat.  This is my body, given for you.”

In the same way, He takes the cup and says, “This is my blood, given for you. Drink and remember Me.”

And as followers of Jesus, we are commanded to do this regularly — to remember His sacrifice for us.  Now as we close the service, I want to invite our prayer team up.  They’re going to be standing here at the bottom of the stairs.  You guys can come on up now.  We have talked about some really heavy things, some really confusing things today.  Or maybe you walked in the room carrying some heavy things. I just want to encourage you if you would like prayer, the team will be here available to you directly after the service and would be honored to pray with you.  And if you are unable to come forward, just raise your hand, and one of us will come to you.

Now would you join me as I pray and then we will read a benediction and release you.  Father, thank You for Your unending unfailing love.  That You call us Your children.  That You pursue us — through thick, through thin, through good, through bad.  That You love us so much.  That You won’t leave us where we’re at.  That you call us to be in community to care for one another, to learn from one another.  To read Your words.  To remember your Son.  Thank you for the sacrifice that gave us the opportunity to be close to You.  In your name, Amen.

Here we’ll end with these words in Second Peter, Chapter one, verses two and three, it says, “May the grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has given us everything required for the life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

Go and have a wonderful day, and we will see you next week.