Luke 22:1-13 “Passover Me”
This last week we had a camp up at Kokee, and I have to admit that such is always a mental challenge for me. And, as I get older, I think I am always more challenged. You see, up at the cabins, there is no chance to run out to the store to get what you forgot, so you must not forget anything. In fact you have to even consider back-up plans and items you may need in emergencies. So, I ran through everything in my mind minute by minute up at camp, and then realized that of course nothing would go to my plan anyway.
Do you sometimes wonder what God’s plan for your life is? I know that this is a silly question. Of course you do! We all wonder this every morning when we get up, right? That is what our scripture today is all about.
Just imagine that you are with Jesus just before the final Passover with him. What would you be planning right now? I will be honest with you in stating that I would be out looking for matzah and trying to get a lamb for the sacrifice. I would not want to bother Jesus so much with the details. After all, Jesus is kind of a busy guy! In stead, we see that the twelve apostles seem rather not into planning much for this feast. This is the holiest celebration of the Jewish year. They do not seem to be proactive in this at all.
Instead, the twelve disciples just defer to Jesus. In fact, our scripture tells us that it was the very day of the unleavened bread, the very day of the start of the Passover celebration, when they first think that maybe they should ready themselves in some way. Just imagine that it is Christmas Day itself, and you finally get the idea in your head “Maybe I should buy some presents or put up some lights or something?” This is such an unreal scenario when we consider that they all went to Jerusalem specifically because it was the Passover, but now it is the day of and no plans have been made!
Jesus to the rescue again! Even though the disciples seem to have made no plans, God in heaven is right on it! We do have to be careful that the course we take is the plan of God and not the plan of that other guy. So, like the apostles, we would do well to turn to Jesus in prayer and ask directly, what do we do now?
I wanted to quickly make an aside as to something that the writer Luke seems to be making a point of that maybe has to do with God’s longer term plans even after the Passover. Whom does Jesus send to prepare the Passover? We see that it is Peter and John. No let us also recall that the last Passover with Jesus is in fact the first Communion with Jesus. Just keep that in mind.
Already in Luke’s time, so about eighty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the church itself was just getting established and already there seems to be a schism developing between those Christians who would follow Peter as the leader and those who had become Christian because of the mission work of John the Beloved Disciple. Jesus sends both Peter and John to prepare this first Communion!
To this day, this separation of the body of the Church exists. Those who followed John the Beloved we call today the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Those who followed the teaching of Paul and Peter are the Western Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. Despite this split, we have throughout the history of this division always said that these two branches of Christianity are in “COMMUNION” with one another. This to say, that we recognize that both Peter and John shared in the body and blood of Christ at that Passover. So, it seems that Jesus knew what was coming for the church when he asked specifically those two disciples to go ahead to prepare the Passover!
So, Peter and John are commanded to go by Jesus. Just like we are commanded to also go out for Jesus. The next command from Jesus is to “prepare.” That is also a command that we have today from Jesus. WE are to make ready this world for the sake of Jesus’ coming again.
The next command from Jesus is literally “to see.” I know that you are reading the pew bibles and it says there “listen.” However, the Greek verb here is “SEE.” Older versions of the bible like to use the word “Behold” in English. We are to behold with our eyes.
Peter and John are to behold a gentleman carrying a ceramic water jar. We should realize that in those days, women were the ones who would be the water carriers, so this is something a bit out of the ordinary. Luke does not even designate that this is a slave. This is indeed a gentleman carrying a jar of water. Why? I believe that this may be ceremonial water that was taken from a healing spring (perhaps the pool at Siloam that is previously mentioned in Luke). Maybe this the water that Jesus will use for washing the disciples’ feet later? I do not know. All we know is that it is unusual that this man is carrying a jar with water.
And, we should note that it is not that he would be recognized by Peter and John. The text says that HE (the man with the jar of water) will meet them (Peter and John). Somehow unbeknownst to us and Peter and John, this man will recognize them. He seems to be more in tuned to God’s plan than Peter and John even!
If you are ever wondering if you are in your life actually following God’s set course for your days, it would be a wonderful affirmation to have someone else come up to you and recognize for you that you are indeed where you are supposed to be in accordance to God’s plan for your life! “Hi, Peter and John, God sent me to you. Recognize what Jesus told you about me. Here is the water jar!”
Now we come to the denouement of the story—at least in regards to recognizing God’s greater plan. The next command from Jesus to Peter and John was to “FOLLOW.” Follow the man back to the house. In this comes the theological question of “free-will.” Are we stuck in a pre-planned path that God has set out for us? Do we have an inescapable destiny that we have no say in?
No, God has a plan, but it is our choice to heed that plan. We can follow the plan, or choose not to. We do have that much free will still. We are not God’s little automatons.
Amazingly, the disciples follow the man to a house. This house is quite large, as it is called an “oikos” in the Greek. In fact the “owner” is referred to in the Greek as the “oikosdespotes,” the despot of the plantation house. He does not come across as a despot in this story at all. He even has the room upstairs already furnished. We are not sure how it is so, but this man seems to know God’s plan very well already. I should mention that it would have been a great honor to have a rabbi come to your home—especially on the Passover. So, this house owner is being generous for all the right reasons.
If you remember Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the last supper, and that it seems almost too nice inside the upper room, I will put to you that it might be just a really good understanding that this was perhaps the nicest house in Jerusalem. Everything in this passage points to a very ornate room with nice furnishings. In that picture, however, you might recall that some of the people in the room were not in view. Indeed, half of the table was still empty.
In the Jewish tradition, the Passover feast is always started with the eldest women of the house lighting the candles. Also, there is a time when the children are asked to read and answer a series of questions. Later these same children are to look for a hidden piece of Matzah. Just to complete the picture, the Last Supper would have been attended by more folks than just the 12 disciples. Everyone in the house would have been there. I am sure that that was part of God’s plan, too. The first communion would have been open to everyone in the house!
I think about my own life and the plans that I had made when I was younger. You could ask my dear mother if she were still alive, but you can ask later in heaven: I never wanted to get married. I never wanted to have children. That was not part of my personal plan. I still remember the disappointed look on my mother’s face as we spoke about this in the kitchen of our old house in Los Angeles.
God had a different plan for me, of course. I never thought that a woman would ever agree to marry me—that unfortunate woman! And, what child would ever want to have me as a father. The thought was terrifying in a way. And, somehow it went from “I am never getting married” to “Your first grandchild is being born.” That is how God’s plans work!
It was never my plan to come to Kauai either! God picked us up and planted us here.
God does have a greater plan for our lives. All we have to do is behold and follow. So, behold God’s plan and start following today!
Pray to Jesus! Amen.