After the relative quiet of Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday of Easter week was busy and lots happened. Preparations are made for Jesus and His disciples to take Passover (Matthew 26.17-19). The Passover meal would have been shared after sunset on Thursday (Thursday going into Friday in Jewish reckoning).
All four gospels make note of the Passover meal, each focusing on different things said during the evening in their reporting. In typical style of the time, no one account claims to have recorded everything done or said, simply things that happened and were said throughout the evening.
During the meal, Jesus reveals that one of His disciples would betray Him, and then goes about cleansing His present community, both literally and spiritually. Feet are washed (John 13.5) to cleanse them literally, and Judas leaves to cleanse the group spiritually (vv.27-30, cf. v.31).
John pays special attention to what was said and taught by Jesus in this farewell discourse (John 13.31-14.31). Jesus then teaches on vines, branches, servitude, destinations, departures, and finally, prays (John 15-17). Final practical commands are issued which update some previously given (Luke 22.35-38), a hymn is sung (most likely from the Psalms), and then the group heads out.
Jesus and His disciples go to a place called Gethsemane where Jesus enters into some fervent and extended prayer (Matthew 26.36-46). Keeping traditions and teachings that said Passover must be kept in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16.1-7) Jesus did not return to Bethany but rather stayed close by in Gethsemane. Praying in His humanity for the cup of God’s wrath to be taken from Him if it were possible (Mark 14.36) Jesus finds His closest companions asleep multiple times. Andres J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor wrote this:
Jesus knows he is about to bear God’s judgment for sin as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world. “Cup” was a common metaphor for God’s righteous wrath poured out on sinners. Jesus is about to drink this “cup” in the place of others; he is the only one who could.
As Jesus finds them asleep for the third time (Matthew 26.44-46) He has seen or heard His arresting mob approaching (v.46). By now in the narrative we have most likely moved into the early hours of Friday…
Join us tomorrow for a Good Friday service.