● Jesus observed the last Passover of His earthly life only hours before His crucifixion.
● For hundreds of years faithful Jews had offered a Passover lamb each spring.
● This yearly ritual reminded them of the first Passover at the time Moses led Israel out of Egypt.
● It symbolized the Lord’s mercy in saving the lives of their firstborn sons at that time.
● The time was now at hand when He who was the Lamb of God would, in the fulfillment of his great Atonement, become the great and last sacrifice of all.
THE THIRD DAY (TUESDAY)
Judas Iscariot Plots to Betray Jesus
● Jesus foretold his betrayal and death (Matthew 26:1–5).
● The rulers were afraid to take him. They said, “Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”1
● Satan “entered into” Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:1–6). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Satan is a spirit man, a being who was born the offspring of God in premortal existence, and who was cast out of heaven for rebellion. He and his spirit followers have power in some cases to enter the bodies of men; they are, also, sometimes cast out of these illegally entered habitations by the power of the priesthood.”2
● Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14–16). Elder Bruce R. McConkie noted that this paltry sum—the price for a slave—is all they thought Jesus was worth, “And by [this we may] know that they esteemed him as the basest of men. And thus, also . . . the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah which had foretold their evil conspiracy [was fulfilled] . . . ‘so they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.’ (Zech. 11:12).”3
THE FOURTH DAY (WEDNESDAY)
Arranging for the Final Passover Meal
● The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 26:17–19) was closely associated with the Passover. As the ancient Israelites made hasty preparations to leave Egypt and its unwelcome hardships, they did not have sufficient time to permit their bread to rise as was the custom. Instead they baked in haste and vacated their homes as quickly as possible. The festival of Unleavened Bread was held to commemorate this fact.
● While the Passover lasted only one day originally, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted seven days. Eventually, both festivals were combined into one, making the entire Passover period eight days in length.
● In preparation for his last Passover meal, Jesus made arrangements to meet in the upper room of a faithful woman disciple’s home in Jerusalem. Tradition says that this was the Gospel writer Mark’s home, and the woman was his mother.
Jesus Introduces the Sacrament
● The final Passover was, in reality, two events rather than one: a formal celebration of the annual Passover supper and the first observance of the Lord’s Supper in commemoration of the atoning act of Jesus Christ.
— Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Since that upper room experience on the eve of Gethsemane and Golgotha, children of the promise have been under covenant to remember Christ’s sacrifice in this newer, higher, more holy and personal way . . . If remembering is the principal task before us, what . . . come[s] to our memory when those plain and precious emblems are offered to us?”4
● Elder Holland then suggested what we should remember about the Savior:
— His love and strength in the Grand council of Heaven.
— That he is the Creator of heaven and earth.
— All that he did in his premortal life as Jehovah.
— The simple grandeur of his birth.
— His teachings.
— His miracles and healings.
— That “all things which are good cometh of Christ” (Moroni 7:24).
— The unkind treatment, rejection, and injustice he endured.
— That he descended below all things in order to rise above them.
— That he made his sacrifices and endured his sorrows for each of us.
● The prayer on the bread (D&C 20:77) contains a covenant to remember our Savior’s body, of which the bread is a token. This commemorates the most important thing the Savior did with His body: He rose from the dead, thus overcoming death for all of us.
● The prayer on the water (wine) (D&C 20:79) contains a covenant to remember our Savior’s blood, of which the water is a token. This commemorates the fact that He shed His blood in order to meet the demands of justice with regard to our sins. Had He not done this, none of us would be worthy to return to our Heavenly Father as imperfect beings. He paid the price for our sins and washes us clean.
● The same prayers are found in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 4:3; 5:2).
● We are commanded in our day to partake of the sacrament “often” (D&C 20:75–76).
● Elder Matthew Cowley said:
“The Lord, being aware of man’s tendency to transgress the law, and that ‘it is human to err’ has enjoined his Church to ‘meet together often’ and to partake of the emblems of his redeeming sacrifice, and to offer up their sacraments that they may more fully keep themselves unspotted from the world.
“The administration of the sacrament as a component of religious worship is so essential that the words in the prayer of sanctification have been given by direct revelation from God for this specific purpose. . . . In the blessing pronounced upon the sacred emblems of the Master’s great sacrifice, the priest repeats God’s own words—words which carry inspiration to the heart and soul of every participant in this holy ritual.
“The Sabbath is the day appointed for sacrament service. In the religious worship of this day every member of the Church is expected to present himself before the sacrament board and renew his covenants with his Redeemer. For those who neglect this duty, there is no covenant renewal, and the Lord will not hold them blameless. The vitality of the Church lies in the obedience of its members to the divine plan, and this vitality comes from the frequent communion of the Saints—meeting together often, and with contrite spirits, partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper.”5
Worthiness to Partake of the Sacrament
● The Lord commanded the Church, “If any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation (D&C 46:4; 3 Nephi 18:7–11).” Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “If any of the members are not in good standing; if they have in their hearts any feeling of hatred, envy, or sin of any kind, they should not partake of these emblems. If there are any differences or feelings existing between brethren, these differences should be adjusted before the guilty parties partake; otherwise they will eat and drink unworthily and bring upon them the condemnation spoken of by Paul. We should all see that our hearts and hands are clean and pure.”6
● Though we do not need to be perfect before partaking, we must attempt sincerely to be free of sin. Our attitude will make a tremendous difference in the value of the ordinance in our lives.
BETRAYAL AND LOVE
Jesus Identifies His Betrayer
● John was next to Jesus, on his right (John 13:21–22). Because people ate such feasts lying down upon their left elbow, this would have placed John’s back “in the bosom” [chest] of the Savior while they ate.
● When Jesus revealed that one of them would betray Him, the disciples were shocked and asked, “Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22).
● Being next to him at the feast, John quietly asked the same question. The Lord answered John’s question by giving Judas “the sop” (John 13:23–30). In areas of the world where table utensils are not used at mealtime, it is common practice to place both broth and meat in a dish in the center of the table. Thin pieces of bread, often shaped to make a spoon, are used to extract both meat and broth from their repository. The bread thus dipped becomes a “sop.” It is a mark of great honor for two friends to dip from the same sop-dish and an even greater mark of respect for one to dip for a friend and present the sop to him. Thus it was that Judas attempted to feign his love and loyalty for Jesus at the Passover meal by dipping his hand in the same dish with him. (Matthew 26:23).7
Washing the Disciples’ Feet
● In response, the Lord taught them about true greatness—through selfless service. He removed His outer clothing and girded Himself with a towel (as a slave would do), then washed their feet (John 13:1–5).
— To appreciate this gesture we must understand that in that culture to touch a man’s feet was the most demeaning thing a person could be asked to do. Only slaves performed this task. Feet were the most filthy, disease-ridden parts of the body.
● Peter objected to the ordinance, saying, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet? . . . Thou shalt never wash my feet” (John 13:6, 8). He thought it was beneath the Lord’s greatness to do such a menial task.
● Jesus responded, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8). This is a statement that we would all do well to remember. Unless Jesus washes us clean from our sins, we cannot be with Him or our Heavenly Father in the life to come. We are absolutely dependent upon Him for the remission of our sins.
● In response, Peter then enthusiastically embraced the ordinance, saying, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head (John 13:9).
● This ordinance was restored in our day on December 27, 1832 (D&C 88:140–141). It continues to this day among the Apostles and the Prophet.
PROMISES OF COMFORT AND PEACE
Jesus Teaches Concerning Love
● Love is the great distinguishing trait of a true disciple of Christ (John 13:33–35; 15: 12, 17). Jesus repeatedly told his disciples to love one another.
— President Ezra Taft Benson said, “To the very end of his mortal life Jesus was demonstrating the grandeur of his spirit and the magnitude of his strength. He was not, even at this late hour, selfishly engrossed with his own sorrows or contemplating the impending pain. He was anxiously attending to the present and future needs of his beloved followers. He knew their own safety, individually and as a church, lay only in their unconditional love one for another. His entire energies seem to have been directed toward their needs, thus teaching by example what he was teaching by precept. He gave them words of comfort and commandment and caution.”8
● Peter expressed his love and loyalty to Christ and said that he wanted to follow Him. But Jesus told him, “The cock shall not crow, till thou has denied me thrice” (John 13:36–38).
Showing the Way to the Father
● Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1–4).
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “My text is on the resurrection of the dead, which you will find in the 14th chapter of John—’In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ It should be—’In my Father’s kingdom are many kingdoms,’ in order that ye may be heirs of God and joint-heirs with me. . . . There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law, every man in his own order.”9
● Thomas wanted to know how to get where Jesus was going. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:5–6).
● Jesus is the express image of His Father (John 14:7–9; Hebrews 1:1–3; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:17). Elder Marion G. Romney said, “Jesus in his mortal ministry, being, as Paul said, ‘the express image of his [Father’s] person’ (Hebrews 1:3), was a true and complete revelation of the person and nature of God. This he confirmed to Philip when he said: ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. . . .’ (John 14:9).”10
● The Father and Son are also one in mind and purpose (John 14:10–11). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Just as Jesus and the Father are so much alike in appearance, and so completely united in doctrine and in all the attributes of godliness, that he who has seen one has in effect seen the other, so there is a similar unity between Jesus and the Holy Ghost. They are one in that they both would say and do the same thing under the same circumstances.”11
● Through prayer his disciples (those who love the Lord and keep his commandments) can ask whatsoever they will in His name and He will do it (John 14:12–14).
● Jesus clarified what He meant by this promise (John 15:7). This would only be the case if they abided in Him and if His words abided in them.
Our Relationship to Christ
● Jesus used the symbol of a vine (a tree) to show the relationship between Himself and those who love and serve Him (John 15:1–8).
— He is the vine (trunk), and we are the branches (v. 1).
— The gardener “purges” (purifies) branches that do not bear fruit (v. 2; footnote 2c).
— “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing (v. 5).”
● Christ declared us to be his “friends” (John 15:9–14). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “There are (some) who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.”12 The member of the Godhead who is our constant companion is the Holy Ghost; it is with him that we have a close, personal relationship. Christ is our friend in the holy sense that He has redeemed us because of His love for us.
● The world will hate us because it hates Him (John 15:15–21).
● We will have tribulation in the world, but will have peace in Him (John 16:33).
● The greatest demonstration of love is to give our lives for those we love (John 15:13).
1. Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 591.
2. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:702
3. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:702–703.
4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 88, 90; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 67–68.
5. Elder Matthew Cowley Speaks , 191–192.
6. Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:343.
7. Harper’s Bible Dictionary , s.v. “sop.”
8. In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 23–24; or Ensign, May 1974, 18–19.
9. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 366.
10. In Conference Report, October 1967, 135.
11. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:753.
12. “Our Relationship With The Lord,” BYU Devotional Address, 2 March 1982.