12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
17When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
22While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
It is Thursday, and in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Passover meal happens that evening. In John, the Passover happens a day later, on Friday, and Jesus becomes the Passover Lamb. But sticking with Mark today – it is Thursday (I know, we skipped Wednesday, but I wanted more than one lesson on Thursday’s events), and the disciples ask Jesus where they should make preparations for the Passover meal. He directs them to go into the city and to follow a man carrying a jar of water on his head. This would be unusual, for water was generally carried in this manner by women. And when the man entered a house, they were to ask the owner of the house where the guest room was where the Teacher could eat the Passover with his disciples. Again, just as Jesus knew where the donkey would be tied for his ride into Jerusalem, he knows the house where the supper will be prepared.
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve – notice there had been other disciples who had gone ahead, located the house, and prepared the meal. We forget sometimes that there were other disciples.
But then, while they were eating, Jesus made a startling announcement, “One of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” It is the twelve who are seated at the table, Jesus’ closest friends. They are distressed and say to one another, “Surely, not I!” And he tells them it is one of the twelve, one who shares his food. And he says that although he must go, in accordance with the prophecies, woe (grief, sorrow, pain) would follow that one who betrayed him.
And then, while they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and he blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “Take: this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it, and he said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Mark uses fewer words to tell it, but the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of Holy Communion, is found in some form in all the gospels, and in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
We observe Holy Communion as a sacrament, because on this night, the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus commanded us to do so. He shares his love with us, he joins with us in this holy meal, as we remember his broken body, given for us, and his blood, spilled for us, in the sacrament.