7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. – Luke 22:7-13 ESV
The Jewish leaders were plotting Jesus’ death and had hired Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, to help them make it happen. This member of Jesus’ inner circle of followers would play a crucial role in making the arrest of Jesus a non-public affair, causing as little fanfare as possible. The religious leaders knew their plan to kill Jesus would be unpopular with the people, so stealth and secrecy would be essential. Their frustration and concern with Jesus were at a fever pitch. Just a few days earlier, the Sanhedrin had held a meeting to discuss what to do with Jesus.
“What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” – John 11:47-48 NLT
Caiaphas, as high priest and head of the council, decided to take matters into his own hands and give his fellow council members a stern rebuke and a lesson in leadership.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” – John 11:49-50 NLT
Little did Caiaphas know that his words were prophetic. His anger-filled words were actually a clear and concise statement of truth regarding the efficacy of Jesus’ death. In his gospel account, John added a parenthetical statement that revealed the divine inspiration behind Caiaphas’ words.
He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.– John 11:51-52 NLT
God had a plan in place, and He was divinely orchestrating every aspect of it with unseen precision and according to a very strict timeline. And Jesus, in perfect alignment with His Father’s will, was keeping to the preordained schedule. Jesus completed His Olivet Discourse on Wednesday and then, on Thursday, He ordered Peter and John to go into Jerusalem and prepare the Passover meal. The timing is critical because, as Luke indicates, this was the day “on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed” (Luke 22:7 ESV). The symbolism of this particular day is profound. Jesus, as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 ESV), was preparing to offer His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). In just a matter of hours, His blood would be spilled and His body broken so that sinful men and women might have the righteous wrath of God “pass over” their lives. He would become the ultimate pascal lamb, providing deliverance from death and the promise of eternal life.
In his description of this event, Luke provides details the other gospel authors leave out. He reveals that Jesus gave Peter and John very specific instructions regarding the location for their meal. Nothing was left to chance. The city of Jerusalem would have been overwhelmed by the number of pilgrims who had made their way there to celebrate Passover. Accommodations would have been in short supply. But somehow, Jesus had prearranged to have a room reserved for their use. In all the chaos and confusion of Jerusalem, Peter and John would find a man carrying a pitcher of water. This unidentified man, most likely a servant, would lead them to a house, where Peter and John would meet the homeowner. At that point, they were to deliver a message from Jesus.
“The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” – Luke 22:11 ESV
It is important to note that none of the disciples were aware of this location. That means that Jesus had not disclosed His plans to any of them. Which begs the question: How did Jesus manage to prearrange all the details surrounding the choice of this house and negotiate the arrangements with its owner? Had He made an unrecorded trip into Jerusalem and secured a room for their upcoming Passover meal? Or had He assigned the job to Mary of Martha, the sisters of Lazarus? None of the gospels provide answers to these questions. Which leads to a final possibility. Perhaps all the details surrounding the man with the pitcher and the home with the strangely available room was all a divinely orchestrated miracle. God had ordained it all.
Whatever the case, Peter and John did as Jesus said and they “found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover” (Luke 22:13 ESV). Despite the crowded streets of Jerusalem, they were able to find the man with the pitcher of water. And seemingly, without words exchanged, they followed the man to the house. There they found a large upper room completely furnished and with everything they needed to celebrate the Passover meal with their Master.
Then Peter and John set about making preparations for the evening meal. Luke opened this section of his gospel with the words, “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread” (Luke 22:7 ESV). According to the book of Exodus, as part of the celebration of Passover, the Jews were to spend seven consecutive days eating unleavened bread. This bread, made without yeast, was to represent the removal of sin from their midst.
“This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the Lord has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand. (Remember, eat no food containing yeast.).” – Exodus 13:3 NLT
On the day of the first Passover, Moses had told the people of Israel:
“For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast. Then on the seventh day, celebrate a feast to the Lord. Eat bread without yeast during those seven days. In fact, there must be no yeast bread or any yeast at all found within the borders of your land during this time.” – Exodus 13:6-7 NLT
As Peter and John made the preparations for the meal, they would have followed the detailed prescriptions provided in the book of Exodus, being careful to leave nothing out.
“Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire. Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eaten before morning.” – Exodus 12:6-10 NLT
It’s sobering to consider that they may very well have sprinkled the blood of the lamb on the door frame of the house in which they were preparing the meal. So, as Jesus arrived that evening with the rest of the disciples, He would have crossed over the threshold of the home, passing by the blood of the lamb on His way to eat His final Passover meal. And Peter and John would have diligently removed all leaven from the home, even enacting a symbolic ritual of cleansing as part of the Passover celebration. And yet, that evening, Judas would be present around the table as Jesus served the cup and the bread to His disciples. The one who had been filled by Satan and had conspired to sell out His Messiah and Master would recline at the same table. His heart leavened by sin, Judas would have his feet washed by Jesus and his stomach filled with the meat of the Passover lamb.
The actions of Judas would illustrate the words of John recorded in his gospel account.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. – John 1:11 ESV
Judas had spent three years of his life in fellowship with the Son of God. He would celebrate the Passover meal with the Lamb of God. But he would end up betraying the Anointed One of God.
Peter and John did as they were told and prepared the meal. But, more importantly, Jesus was doing just as He had been commanded, fulfilling every part of His Father’s preordained plan – down to the last detail. And in doing so, He would be “the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made” (Revelation 13:8 NLT).
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
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The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson