The wine and bread are important - but what about Jesus' words? What did he say during the Last Supper?


5 Mic-Drop Moments from the Last Supper (and Why They Still Matter)

Caleb Mathis

16 mins

If anybody knows how to disrupt a perfectly good dinner party, it’s Jesus.

On the last night of His life, gathered around a meal with his closest friends and followers, Jesus went into overdrive. He taught and modeled some of the most profound truths in all scripture. This “Last Supper” is so full of head-turning mic drops it’s hard to keep up.

So, naturally, we turned it into a list.

Admit it; we’re all suckers for lists. Did I spend half an hour last night reading through the definitive ranking of every Tim Burton movie while my kids waited patiently for me to tuck them into bed? Yes. Yes, I did.

Tim Burton’s list was a distraction, but this list is so much more. These weren’t just head turning moments for the disciples—these mic drop moments still have the power to blow up spiritual assumptions, reorient our lives, and turn apathy upside down. So while these moments are 2,000 years old, they still deeply matter today.

Jesus’ final meal took place in a small guest room in Jerusalem. He and his crew were celebrating Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating God’s rescue of his people from slavery in Egypt. You can bet there was plenty of unleavened bread, lamb, and wine.

Knowing his time was running short, Jesus wasted not a moment. In mere hours, he would be dead. It was crunch time for the disciples, even if some (or most) didn’t even realize it. He needed to pass along as much final wisdom as possible.

The Last Supper is such a keystone event in Christianity that it’s featured in every biblical account of the life of Christ. If you’re feeling rusty on the details, you can read about it in Matthew 26… or Mark 14… or Luke 22… or if you want the whole spectrum, John 13-17.

But enough of the appetizers, let’s get to the main course. Here are __Jesus’s Top-Five Mic-Drop Moments from the Last Supper. __

5) SATAN’S BAKERY (Or, Why Jesus Isn’t Put Off By Your Mistakes)

If your name and Satan’s get brought up in the same sentence, you can pretty much guarantee bad news is coming.

In Luke 22, after sharing bread and wine with his followers, Jesus turns to them and drops this bomb:

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

If you know anything about the 12 disciples, Simon (also called Peter) was the impulsive one. He’s the one who walked on water with Jesus, and a few hours after this final meal, he’d cut a dude’s ear off. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Peter has had his name mixed up with the ultimate source of evil in the universe (Matthew 16:22-23). Poor Petey.

There’s so much we could unpack here:

  • Like how Satan has to ask permission before messing with the disciples. That’s how powerful God is and how weak (in comparison to Jesus) Satan is.

  • But it also appears like Satan gets permission for his request. Uhh, what? A Catholic exorcist told me last week (via a podcast, but I felt like we were talking) that God can even use Satan’s tactics for the good of his people. So often, suffering backfires on Satan because when a believer comes out the other side, they are more unshakable than ever. (See my man, Job’s story, for an example. Or mine.)

  • I don’t do much baking, so I had to Google the word “sift.” It means “to put a substance through a sieve to remove lumps or large particles.” I don’t know about you, but being sifted by Satan does not feel like a pleasant process.

  • But before it even happens, Jesus has prayed for his disciples. And He has a specific request for Simon Peter: “When you have turned back again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus knew Peter was going to fail him. As he so often does, Peter went at that failure with all his might, denying he even knew Jesus on three separate occasions. When his friend needed him most—at an unfair trial, on his way to the cross, hanging there for all the world to see while he slowly choked to death—Peter was nowhere to be found.

But as much as Jesus knew Peter would fail, he also knew the disciple would return to his senses. It’s such a Jesus thing to do—to be honest about our shortcomings AND still entrust us with another mission.

The strongest people I know are those who have failed the most, ask the most challenging questions, and put it all out on the line even after getting burned.

Jesus wasn’t scared of Peter’s failures and faults; he wasn’t turned off by his doubts, anger, or short-sightedness. And He isn’t repelled by yours either.

No matter where you find yourself in your journey of faith, I believe the words of Jesus for Peter equally apply to you—yes, life is hard, and suffering will happen. But Jesus has prayed for you. When you fail (because you will), get back up again, and use your strength to strengthen others.

4) THE DIRTIEST DIRTY JOB (Or, The Secret to Greatness)

Cleanliness was of paramount importance to ancient Jews looking to keep God’s law—which is why Jesus’ mid-meal object lesson must have sent shock waves throughout the room. Somebody let Mike Rowe know; he just got dethroned.

In a culture without modern transportation, nearly everyone got anywhere using their feet. In the Middle East’s dusty and dry climate, feet got dirty. Like, really, really, dirty. So dirty, in fact, that not even slaves were forced to stoop so low as to wash someone else’s feet.

You’d never expect someone else to help you with your worst bathroom duties (or is it, doodies?)—yet that’s how they felt about feet during the time of Jesus. Cleaning someone else’s would be seen as gross, degrading, and humiliating.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did.

John 13:4 indicates that Jesus got up to wash his disciples’ feet in the middle of their dinner. I like to think it was in reaction to a ridiculous conversation that sprung up among his followers during the meal: they’d actually begun arguing over who among them should be considered the greatest (Matthew 22:2).

I imagine Jesus’ face falling as he quietly gets up from the table. He removes his outer layer of clothing, grabs a basin of water, and begins the job that no one in the room would have ever been willing to do. Just to be sure they didn’t miss the meaning, he spells it out for them:

You call me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet… I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:13-14, 34-35)

Jesus was clear: it’s not about how important you think you are, but how you serve others.

I’d like to say that, since that day, the worldwide followers of Jesus have devoted themselves wholeheartedly to this teaching. That we’ve continually served each other, put aside our own wants and desires and filled churches so full with the self-sacrificing love of God that we’ve had to construct more buildings to hold all the people drawn in.

But I confess, most days, I’m more like the self-focused disciples and less like the foot-washing King than I’d care to admit.

3) YOUR NAME HERE (Or, God Doesn’t Play Favorites)

On the last night of his life, Jesus prayed for you—and said some of the most shocking words in the entire Bible.

John’s account of Jesus’ life easily contains the most detail about his final hours with the disciples. Known to theologians as “The Farewell Discourse,” John chapters 14-17 find Jesus teaching like he’s running out of time (because he was).

The final chapter of that Farewell Discourse consists entirely of three prayers that Jesus prays. First, he prays for himself that he might glorify God in the grueling hours to come. Next, He prays for his disciples, that God would protect and use them. And he finishes by praying for every person who would come to know him through their work.

I pray not only for [my disciples], but also for those who will believe in Me through their message.” (John 17:20)

If you follow Jesus now, you’re on the downline of people who have come to know him because of the disciples’ work. Translation: Jesus was praying for you.

What specifically did He pray for?

He prayed for unity among everyone who would follow him so that “the world would believe” (John 17:21). If you’re feeling like Jesus is insinuating that the behavior of Christians toward other Christians is of paramount importance to the future of the world—well, you’d be right. You didn’t already forget the lesson of the foot-washing, did you?

But the most shocking part of his prayer for you? It’s what He says about God’s love:

May they be completely one so the world may know… that You have loved them as You have loved me.” (John 17:23)

Cue the record-scratch sound effect. Did you catch that? Reread it if you need to.

Jesus says that God, the all-powerful Creator of the cosmos, loves us (you, me, and Aunt Tilda) as much as he loves Jesus.

That just doesn’t sound right… right? We’re talking about Jesus here—who lived a perfect life, did miracles, taught thousands, brought dead people back to life, and sent demons screaming into herds of pigs. Do you mean to say that God loves me—with my doubts and shortcomings, my short fuse, and all my half-finished home projects—the same as he loves Jesus?

That’s precisely what Jesus insists on because he understands the love of God isn’t a competition. You and I aren’t orphans, fighting for the last bit of gruel from a stingy God who plays favorites.

Trying to help the early church understand this, the missionary and teacher Paul wrote, “You are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

So while you tend to focus on your own shortcomings, God looks at his children differently. For followers of Jesus, God sees a beloved son or daughter, a child that he cherishes, clothed in the goodness and obedience of Christ.

It was that goodness and radical obedience that hours later would lead Jesus to put the love of God on full display in the most shocking way possible: a horrific and public execution.

2) BYE FELICIA (Or, Jesus’ Greatest Gift)

It’s tempting to think life with Jesus—by that, I mean the physical, incarnate, walking-around-and-cracking-jokes-and-drinking-wine-Jesus—would have been better than the life we have now. But Jesus disagrees.

I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)

The Counselor, He goes on to explain, is the Holy Spirit. It’s a mystery of faith, but for all those who place themselves under the kingship of Jesus, God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Like any good counselor, the Holy Spirit points us to the truth, he encourages and grows our virtues; he convicts and diminishes our vices; and he connects us permanently to Jesus.

Jesus goes on to explain:

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears… He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

Jesus’ greatest gift was his life. It changed how the entire world operates (more on that next).

But his second greatest? The Holy Spirit, providing an open channel between him and us—no static, no interference, and no pesky roaming charges.

In a time when loneliness is pandemic, when we so easily feel as if we’re unseen, that we don’t matter, and our lives are of little consequence, Jesus plants the most critical seed inside us.

For thousands of years, worshippers of God had to come to the temple in Jerusalem to experience him—it was his physical dwelling place. With this gift of the Counselor, the Bible teaches that we have now become the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). God lives inside of us.

No matter what you feel, you are never alone. You are never permanently marginalized. You are never looked over or sidelined by God.

You are known. You are empowered. You are a temple.

This is exactly the way Jesus thinks it should be.

(If you’re feeling like a Holy Spirit newb, and I confess I’m one too, this conversation between my friends Kyle and Nick is a great starting point.)

1) BRAND SPANKING NEW (Or, Jesus Changes Everything)

Usually, if someone insists you eat their flesh and drink their blood, you should run away as fast as possible. But Jesus isn’t just anybody.

We’ve already discussed how, as an Orthodox Jew, Jesus’ Passover meal would have included unleavened bread and wine. These elements had been part of the celebration since the first Passover (see Exodus 12 for the full story).

For some 1500 years, Jews practiced the Passover the same way. Of all the shocking things Jesus said during the Last Supper, his redefining of what the bread and wine represented might take the cake (or, I guess, the unleavened bread).

He held up the bread and declared that “This is my body, which is given for you” (Luke 22:19). Then he held up the wine, declaring that it was his blood, “Which establishes a new covenant” (Luke 22:20).

You can almost hear the disciples scratching their heads. What the what? Your body? Your blood? A new covenant? This is getting weird.

None of the disciples saw a new covenant coming, because they didn’t think of the original covenant as old. To them, it was just the covenant. There was nothing old or outdated about it.

Thousands of years before Jesus arrived on earth, God had made that covenant agreement’s terms clear. Near the end of the book of Leviticus, which outlines many of the ancient Jews’ guidelines for life and holiness, God says this:

If you follow my statutes and faithfully observe my commands… I will place My residence among you, and I will not reject you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.” (Leviticus 26:3, 11-12)

As you might have guessed, an imperfect people had a hard time keeping the standards of a perfect God. So God instituted a way for them to co-exist: personal and corporate mistakes could be atoned for by the sacrifice of animals. Oftentimes, the chosen animal was a perfect (meaning with no spots or deformities) lamb.

On the first day of His public ministry, some three years before he’d share his final supper with the disciples, Jesus was publicly recognized by the prophet John as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). That was not a coincidence, or a weird term of endearment, but a prophetic foretelling.

Forgiveness for sins meant that the lamb had to be killed. But even after the sacrifice, God’s people were never able to maintain a sinless existence. More mistakes meant more sacrifices, until life became a revolving door of misdeeds, blood, and forgiveness.

That was the old covenant. And then Jesus appeared and threw a major wrench into those gears. Instead of a lamb dragged to its death at the temple, the Lamb of God willingly went to his—a perfect, sinless sacrifice—for the permanent forgiveness of sins.

The old covenant was a revolving door. The new covenant swung the door so wide it broke the hinges.

The old covenant was marked with striving. The new covenant with grace.

The old covenant was earned. The new covenant is given.

Jesus’ death and resurrection fundamentally change how humanity approaches (and interacts with) God.

Before, there was separation because of our mistakes. Now, there can be intimacy.

Before, payment was to be made. Now that payment has been paid in full.

And where payment has been made, no debt remains.

A Clean Plate

During these final hours with the disciples, Jesus explained, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). This is precisely why. The old covenant has passed away, and the new covenant has begun. Forgiveness and life, joy and infinite second chances, a way to know and be known by the One who made you and holds every detail of your life in his hands—it’s only available through Jesus.

By becoming our permanent sacrifice, Jesus begins the new covenant with a “paid in full” stamp. Freedom and access are available to all who accept it. Striving is over, and relationship can begin.

And if you ask me, that’s news so good, it’s worth interrupting dinner for.

Caleb Mathis
Meet the author

Caleb Mathis

Dad of three, husband of one, pastor at Crossroads, and at the moment would rather be reading Tolkien, watching British TV, or in a pub with a pint of Guinness.

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