The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3


Chapter 6—The Passover Supper

The scribes and priests now counseled together how they might take Jesus without raising a tumult among the people; for many of those who witnessed his mighty works believed him to be the prophet of the Most High, and would have been greatly incensed at any attempt upon his liberty. So the dignitaries decided that open violence would not be good policy, but that treachery must serve their purpose. 3SP 81.2

Judas, one of the twelve, proposed secretly to betray Jesus into their hands, by leading them to one of the Saviour's resorts for prayer and retirement. In this quiet place they could make sure of their prey, for there would be no multitude to oppose them. Judas, ever greedy for gain, made a contract with the priests and rulers to betray his Master into their hands for thirty pieces of silver. The Lord of life and glory was sold to ignominy and death by one of his disciples for a paltry sum of money. 3SP 81.3

The heart of Judas had not suddenly grown thus base and corrupt. His love of mammon, like any vice which is left unchecked, had daily grown stronger, until it overbalanced his love for the Saviour, and he had become an idolater. His mind had become debased by covetousness; and a man who is enslaved by avarice is in danger of going to any lengths in crime. 3SP 82.1

Judas, with the rest of the twelve, had been privileged to listen to the teachings of Jesus, and to witness his acts of sacrifice for the benefit of men. He had noted his forbearance and patience; that when weary, hungry, and pressed upon by the multitude of poor and afflicted, he had pitied their cries and turned none away unrelieved. Judas had seen him perform miracles in giving health to the dying and joy to the despairing. He himself had felt in his person the evidences of his divine power. But when men reject light, and blindly follow their natural inclinations, they are led into darkness, and the plainest facts are unheeded. Judas was naturally avaricious, and he had fostered this evil propensity until it had become the ruling motive of his life. 3SP 82.2

We look with horror upon the treachery of Judas; but his case represents a large class who file in under the banner of Christ, yet are really his worst enemies. They worship only self and money, and use the name of Christian as a cloak to hide their evil deeds. They sell their integrity for money, and their Saviour for a little worldly advantage. 3SP 82.3

After Judas had closed the contract by which he agreed to betray his Master into the hands of those who thirsted for his life, he mingled with the other disciples as though innocent of wrong and interested in the work of preparing for the passover. The betrayer thought that his base purposes were hidden from his Master, although every day furnished fresh evidence that the thoughts and intents of all hearts were open unto him. 3SP 83.1

Jesus met his disciples in the upper chamber, and they soon perceived that something weighed heavily upon his mind. At length, in a voice of touching sadness, he addressed them thus: “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” He clearly foresaw the events which were to transpire in the near future. His heart was wrung with grief as he contemplated the ingratitude and cruelty of those he had come to save, and saw pictured before him the terrible fate that awaited them in consequence. 3SP 83.2

The interviews between Jesus and his disciples were usually seasons of calm joy, highly prized by all of them. The passover suppers had been scenes of special interest; but upon this occasion Jesus was troubled in spirit, and his disciples sympathized with his grief although they knew not its cause. This was virtually the last passover that was ever to be celebrated; for type was to meet antitype in the slaying of the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. Christ was soon to receive his full baptism of suffering; but the few quiet hours between him and Gethsemane were to be spent for the benefit of his disciples. 3SP 83.3

“And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and break it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” At this last passover the Lord's supper was instituted. 3SP 84.1

Jesus, by his example, then gave his disciples a lesson of humility. Having girded himself like a servant, he washed the feet of his disciples, conversing with them the while in solemn tenderness. He, the spotless Son of God, stooped to wash the feet of his followers, as one of the last tokens of his love for them. 3SP 84.2

When he had completed the task, he said unto them, “Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you.” 3SP 84.3

A contention had arisen among the disciples of Jesus as to who should be most honored in his kingdom; for notwithstanding the express instruction they had so often received to the contrary, they had clung to the idea that Jesus would establish a temporal kingdom in Jerusalem; and the late demonstrations upon his entering the city, and the manner in which he had received them, revived this belief in their minds. Jesus had checked their aspirations for honor, and now strengthened the lesson by an act of humility and love, calculated to impress them with a sense of their obligations to one another, and that instead of quarreling for place, each should count the others better than himself. 3SP 84.4

As the disciples sat at the passover with their beloved Master, they observed that he still appeared greatly troubled and depressed. A cloud settled over them all, a premonition of some dreadful calamity, the character of which they did not understand. As they ate in silence, Jesus said, “Verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray me.” Amazement and consternation seized them at these words. They could not comprehend how any one of them could deal treacherously by their divine Teacher. For what cause could they betray him, and to whom? Whose heart could give birth to such a design! Surely not one of the favored twelve who had been privileged above all others to hear his teachings and who had experienced his marvelous love, and for whom he had shown such great respect by bringing them into close communion with himself! 3SP 85.1

As they realized the full import of his words, and remembered how true his sayings were, a sudden fear and self-distrust seized them. They began to examine their own hearts to ascertain if one thought against the Master found lodgment there. With the most painful feelings, one after another inquired, “Lord, is it I?” But Judas sat silent. John, in deep distress, inquired at last, Who is it, Lord? and Jesus answered, “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him, but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed; it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” The disciples had searched one another's faces closely as they asked, “Lord, is it I?” and now the silence of Judas drew all eyes to himself. Amid the confusion of questions and the expressions of astonishment, Judas had not heard the words of Jesus in answer to John's question. But now, to escape the searching scrutiny of the disciples, he asked as they had done, “Master, is it I?” Jesus replied with solemn accents, “Thou hast said.” Confused and overcome by the unexpected discovery of his crime, Judas hastily rose to leave the room; but as he went out, Jesus said, “What thou doest, do quickly.” 3SP 85.2

There was a touching forbearance manifested in the dealing of Jesus with Judas. It evinced an infinite mercy, giving him one more chance of repentance, by showing him that all his thoughts and purposes were fully known to the Son of God. He deigned to give one final, convincing proof of his divinity to Judas before the consummation of his treachery, that he might turn from his purpose before repentance was too late. But Judas, although surprised and alarmed, was not moved to repentance. He only became more firmly settled in his plan as the discovery of his guilt was made apparent. He went forth and proceeded to carry out the work he had engaged to do. 3SP 86.1

The purpose of the Saviour in pronouncing the woe upon Judas was twofold: First, to give the false disciple a last opportunity to save himself from the betrayer's doom; and, secondly, to give the disciples a crowning evidence of his Messiahship, in revealing the hidden purpose of Judas. Said Jesus: “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.” 3SP 87.1

Had Jesus remained silent, in apparent ignorance of that which was to come upon him, an impression might have been left on the minds of his disciples that their Master had not divine foresight, and had been deceived, surprised and betrayed into the hands of a murderous mob. A year before, Jesus had told the disciples that he had chosen twelve, but that one was a devil; and now his words to Judas on the occasion of the passover, showing that this treachery was fully known to his Master, would strengthen the faith of his true followers during his humiliation. And when Judas should have come to his dreadful end, they would remember the woe which Jesus had pronounced upon the betrayer. 3SP 87.2

The withdrawal of Judas was a relief to all present. The Saviour's face lighted immediately, and the oppressive shadow was lifted from the disciples, as they saw the peace of Heaven return to the pale, worn countenance of their Lord. Jesus had much to say to his beloved disciples that he did not wish to say in the presence of the multitude, who could not understand the sacred truths he was about to unfold. Even the disciples could not fully understand them till after the resurrection should have taken place. 3SP 87.3

Looking upon his faithful followers, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” He then informed them of his approaching separation from them. The ardent Peter could not rest while the matter remained in uncertainty. He inquired, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Jesus answered, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterward.” But Peter's interest was intensely roused, and he urged Jesus to explain his full meaning, saying, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.” Jesus answered sorrowfully, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.” Then, looking with pitying love upon his little flock, so soon to be left without a shepherd, he sought to draw their minds from the perplexity into which his statements had thrown them, and said tenderly, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” 3SP 88.1

With the deepest interest Jesus poured forth the burden of his soul in words of comfort, of counsel and prayer, which would ever remain imprinted on the minds and hearts of his disciples. These words from the lips of the Saviour, traced by the inspired John in chapters fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen, were repeated again and again by the disciples to stay their sinking hearts in their great disappointment and trial. Not until after the resurrection, however, were the words spoken upon this memorable occasion fully understood and appreciated. But the truths uttered by the Redeemer in that upper chamber have spread from the testimony of the disciples over all lands, and will live through all ages to comfort the hearts of the desponding, and give peace and hope to thousands who believe. 3SP 88.2

Jesus with his disciples now left the upper chamber, and crossed the brook Kedron. Sorrow and anguish again pressed heavily upon his heart. With touching sadness he addressed his companions: “All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen I will go before you into Galilee.” Peter, again anxious to assure his Master of his fidelity, said, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” Jesus, reproving his confidence as before, said, “Verily, I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” But Peter only “spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.” 3SP 89.1

Jesus now repaired with his disciples to the garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount Olivet, a retired place which he had often visited for seasons of communion with his Father. 3SP 89.2

It was night; but the moon was shining bright and revealed to him a flourishing grapevine. Drawing the attention of the disciples to it, he said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” 3SP 89.3

The Jewish nation was a fruitless branch, and was therefore to be separated from the living vine, which was Christ Jesus. The Gentiles were to be engrafted upon the stalk, to become a living branch, partaker of the life that nourished the true vine. This branch was to be pruned that it might be fruitful. In view of his separation from his disciples, Jesus now exhorted them to connect themselves firmly to him by faith, that they might become a part of the living vine, and bear a rich harvest of fruit. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” 3SP 90.1

When the sinner has repented of his sins, and is united with Christ, as the branch is engrafted in the vine, the nature of the man is changed, and he is a partaker of the divine nature. He loves the things that Christ loves, and hates that which he hates. His desires are in harmony with the will of God. He treasures up the words of Christ, and they abide in him. The life-giving principle of the Saviour is communicated to the Christian. Just so the little scion, leafless and apparently lifeless, is engrafted into the living vine, and, fiber by fiber, vein by vein, drinks life and strength from it, till it becomes a flourishing branch of the parent stalk. 3SP 90.2

He still impressed upon them the importance of carrying forward the work which he had begun, and bearing fruit to the glory of God: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” The disciples were the chosen depositaries of the truth of God. They were witnesses of the Father's acknowledgement of Jesus as the Son of God. They had beheld his miracles, heard his teachings, and it was theirs to give the message of salvation to the world, that through their evidence men might lay hold of Christ by living faith. Thus would the disciples bring forth fruit to the glory of God. 3SP 91.1

Jesus assured his disciples that he would in no case forsake them, but would be clothed with power, and would become their Advocate at the right hand of the Father, to present the petitions they might ask in the name of his Son. The disciples did not then fully comprehend the words of their Master, but later in their religious experience they cherished the precious promise, and presented their prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus. 3SP 91.2

Jesus warned his disciples not to expect the commendation of the world. Said he, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Those who are of the same spirit with the world receive its smiles and approbation; but the humble disciples of Jesus were to suffer scorn and persecution. Jesus declared that they should be brought before kings and rulers for his name's sake, and whosoever should destroy their lives would be so deceived by Satan as to think they were doing God service. Every indignity and cruelty that the ingenuity of man could devise would be visited upon the followers of Christ. But in all their trials they were to remember that their Master had endured like reproach and suffering. They were to remember his words: “The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not Him that sent me.” 3SP 91.3

The disciples were to go on valiantly in the footsteps of the Saviour, keeping the prize of eternal life in view, and winning souls to Christ. Even the opposition they were to meet would develop staunch elements of character and shining virtues. Faith, patience, and trust in God, are the perfect fruit that blossoms and matures best in the shadow of adversity. 3SP 92.1

Jesus carefully opened before his disciples the events which would follow his death, that when persecution should overtake them they might be prepared to endure it, and not be tempted to apostatize from their faith to avert suffering and dishonor. He led them gently on to understand the great subjects which they were to deliver to the world. He impressed upon them the importance of their position as those who had witnessed the wonderful manifestations of God to his Son, who had beheld the miracles of Christ, and received his words of wisdom. Said he, “Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” The history of those disciples, and the evidence which they were to record, were to be the study of thinking minds through all ages. 3SP 92.2

Jesus plainly stated to the disciples that he had left the presence of his Father to come unto the world, and that he was now about to leave the world and return to his Father; but he refrained from crowding their minds and confusing their understanding. Said he, “I have many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now.” Jesus knew they were not strong enough to hear all the wonderful truths relative to his humiliation and death. After his resurrection they would be better able to understand and appreciate them. 3SP 93.1

Jesus now had but a short time in which to comfort and instruct his little band of followers. His farewell counsel was rich in sympathy and truth. Exceeding precious to his disciples were those last moments passed with their beloved Master. Like a consecrated high priest he now poured forth the burden of his soul to his Father in a petition for his church such as the angels had never before heard. This prayer was deep and full, broad as the earth, and reaching high Heaven. With his human arm he encircled the children of Adam in a firm embrace; and with his strong divine arm he grasped the throne of the Infinite, thus uniting earth to Heaven, and finite man to the infinite God. 3SP 93.2