Mary (wife of Cleopas) on the Lord’s Supper
My name is Mary and I am actually sister-in-law to Mary the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, my husband Cleopas being Joseph’s brother.1. You can understand that I was devasted on that Friday when the Romans brutally and shamefully put my nephew to death on a cross outside of Jerusalem. I stood by, helpless and terrified, with Mary his mother, Mary from Magdala and his closest friend, John son of Zebedee. In that moment, we didn’t understand why this fearful, dreadful thing was happening. 2. The cosmos it seemed was reacting, as unprecedented darkness closed in around us and the earth shook with violent quaking.
My husband and I spent that sleepless Passover night, and the Sabbath day after, with other follower- friends in Jerusalem, although we were of little comfort to each other. But all of that was soon to change and I am writing this so that you too ( especially those of you who are not Jews) will understand what Jehovah God has done for all of mankind!
0n the first day of the week following Jesus’ crucifixion, my husband and I were travelling home to Emmaus with heavy hearts.3. We were overtaken by a younger man who questioned our sad and hopeless conversation. He let on that he had no idea why we would feel so broken- hearted.
Then he began to put it all into perspective for us. We were able to see that from the very beginning of our nation’s history, God had been at work, like a shepherd leading us to these present events. 4.
He began with the story of God’s instructions to faithful Abraham to offer his only son Issac as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, The temple we knew was built on this same mountain. The scriptures told us that God spared Isaac and provided a ram to take his place. 5. In the same manner the Father has provided Jesus as a sacrifice to take our place. Then the stranger spoke of Jacob’s family and the years they spent in slavery in Egypt, until they were delivered through Moses. He explained the first covenant in the wilderness and the promise that God always intended to establish a better way, and he indeed had provided that way in a new covenant brought through Jesus! 6. As he spoke, we saw that Jesus, was indeed just who John the Baptizer told us he was, “the Lamb of God” provided for the sins of the whole world! 7.
We arrived at our home as dusk was falling and we persuaded the young man to stay the night with us. As the man sat at the table I got some food out. As I did, it occurred to me that we hadn’t even asked the stranger’s name yet. I put out some flatbread and cups for wine while Cleopas trimmed the oil lamp and set it down. I had barely been seated when the young man picked up the bread! Then he did something that opened our eyes, for truly we were blind to who he really was. He gave thanks to God, folded the bread and broke it and then passed it to us. As he did so, I saw nail marks on his hands……. and joy in his eyes! In the brief moment that I looked down at the piece of bread before me, Jesus disappeared from our midst!
Cleopas looked at me astonished that Jesus had vanished in the very moment that we recognized him! Neither spoke, but our minds raced as we tried to take in what we now realized had occurred. Resurrection! Our Lord had been resurrected just as he said!
It was then that I realised that this was the third day! 8.
Gather your things, we’re going back to Jerusalem, we must tell the others what we have seen and heard! My husband led the way as we hurried through the foothills up to the city. We went straight to the home of Mary and her son John Mark where many of the disciples were staying. Many excited voices began almost at once- have you heard? Peter has seen the Lord! Thrilled that it was indeed true, we began to relate how Jesus met us on our way home to Emmaus, and how he had opened the scriptures to us.
Suddenly, Jesus appeared again right in the midst of our gathering! Understanding the shock and fear that he was causing, Jesus spoke calmly giving us a few moments to process what we were seeing. He gave everyone time to look at the nail marks in his hands and in his feet. Then to set us further at ease, he asked for something to eat while reaching for some figs in a bowl on the table. Then again he began to explain, as he had with us, how his life and death and resurrection must be, and could only be fully understood as the continuation of the story of Israel.
From that day forward all of the believers have been meeting as often as we are able. Our gatherings take various forms but we always include a time to partake in the new covenant meal in one another’s homes. 9. It was a pattern that God had established first with Abraham, was then carried on by Isaac, and all of the generations that followed. For centuries, we Jews have always confirmed our commitment to a covenant by the offering of a sacrifice and then sharing the meat of that sacrifice in a meal together. Jesus explained that he was both the sacrifice and the meal. At the Pentacost festival Jews, in addition to bringing an animal were also instructed to bring two loaves of leavened bread with their offering. 10. Now to the Jews, leaven always represented sin. The first loaf symbolized the Jewish people and the second one, the Gentile nations. But now in Christ we have been joined together as one family and so we share together with one loaf, but this time it is an unleavened loaf. 11. Our sin has been dealt with. And as there was only one perfect and final sacrifice for sin in Jesus, we all drink from one cup. So we remember and actually partake of the new covenant that Jesus established with his death. All of this was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah. 12.
We are no longer bound to observe an external law in the energy of the flesh, but we indeed have his spirit to guide us by what he has written in our hearts. Speaking of these things each time we gather helps us to realise who we really are, and brings us unity and hope in these troubled times.
- John 19:25,26
- Luke 24
- Hebrews 8:9
- Hebrews 8:8-12
- John 1:29
- Matt 17:23, Luke 18:33
- Acts 2:46
- Lev. 23:17
- Matt 26:17,26
12. Jeremiah 31:31-34
Final Passover Meal……..First Lord’s Supper
I’m not quite sure, but it may have been because I was the eldest, that the Master instructed me to take John and to go ahead of the others into Jerusalem and make ready for the Passover meal. A young ram had been purchased from among the animals previously inspected by the priests, and we led it into the city around mid-day on that hot sunny Thursday. John and I would need to find the place to celebrate the Passover, but first we must locate a man doing something very strange indeed, he would be carrying a pitcher of water!
The city was teeming with visitors who had come to celebrate Passover together as a nation. I shielded my eyes from the blazing sun as I looked up the steps to the Temple Mount when John excitedly shouted out, here he is! He grabbed the lamb’s tether from me and pointed to a male servant approaching with a water jug on his shoulder. We followed the man for some distance until we arrived at the place where he entered. We were asked to wait outside while the servant got the owner of the house. After explaining our Master’s very peculiar instructions, the man, as if he had been expecting us, showed us up an outside staircase to a large upper room with a large table surrounded by lounging cushions. Certain that we had found the place for which we searched, we thanked the man and left for the Temple Mount.
We arrived just in time for the Evening-Service and Sacrifice. The Temple courts were crowded with pilgrim Jews from far and wide, each representing a family group of at least ten men for whom they would offer a male lamb upon the Great Altar. We were admitted to the Court of the Priests. I was given a knife to slay the lamb and the priests caught its blood in a golden bowl, which was then taken and thrown upon the base of the altar. As John and I held the slain lamb, other priests skillfully removed the hide and the parts which were to be burned taking care that not a bone was broken. All this time, the Levites sang the Hallel psalms and we joined in with them repeating the first line of the each psalm. When the priests had finished their work, and with the lamb lashed to two staves to be carried between them, Peter and John left the temple to make their way back to the upper room.
The owner of the house made his oven ready for the cooking of the lamb which would be roasted on a pomegranate spit. As Peter turned the handle he thought of his wife back home in Bethsaida and of previous occasions when they had travelled together to Jerusalem for joyous Passover celebrations.
Meanwhile, Jesus and his ten remaining disciples were on their way from Bethany to Jerusalem. He had of course attended other Passover celebrations, but always as a guest. This time, for the first time, he would preside over the festive meal as host for his disciples comprising the group (always no less than ten, and no more than thirty). This would also be his final time, for in truth, there would be no more looking backward to Egypt. The God who created man had, in Jesus, now become one. The Passover lambs had all pointed to him and after his death they could have no further meaning. Jesus had in fact interrupted history, and in so doing made a way for us all to have new life in him.
When all was ready and the men were reclining together around the table, Jesus said to them, ” You have no idea how much I have looked forward to this moment, to the eating of this Passover meal with you, for I will soon enter my time of suffering.”
And so the meal began, with words so familiar to us all. I was across the table from Jesus, with John next to and in front of him. The words spoken from his lips seemed so different, though exactly the same as every other Passover seder ……until…. until he stopped, got up and took a towel and wrapped it around himself as though he were a servant, and then he took a basin of water, came to me and then began to remove my sandals! I was confused. I began to protest, but he stopped me, and looking into my eyes he said, “You cannot be mine unless you allow me to do this Peter”. Then in turn he proceeded to wash the feet of each disciple at the table. His humility was contagious as we all submitted to his servanthood.
When Jesus had returned to his place he continued, but this time “off script”. What you will soon see and come to understand is that I have prepared a place for you in my Father’s heart. Further, you will see that I am the only way to that place. I will be leaving you very shortly, but I desire that you will soon be with me where I go. Until then, remember me by breaking bread together in this way, showing forth both my death for you and my presence with you. I invite you to my table in this way, until my kingdom is finally handed over to my Father.
At that time there will be another table, and true rejoicing, rejoicing such as you cannot begin to imagine.
- Edersheim, J.M. Hicks, W. Jacobsen, J. Lennox, the Gospels of Luke and John,
quotations from The Message Bible.
Peter and Paul in Antioch – Antioch, Syria AD 49
It was later that evening, after an upsetting confrontation in the morning between Paul and Peter in front of several brothers at a meeting in the home of Manaen. Emotions had now cooled and Paul felt that it was time for further explanation.
“Peter, do you remember when we first met nearly 14 years ago? We spent only 15 days together in Jerusalem, but that was enough time for me to see your great passion for the Lord and his church. Since then, I have been traveling throughout Cyprus and Asia establishing churches with the Lord’s leading. Do you know what has been the most effective way to bond the believers in those little churches together? It’s bringing them to the Lord’s table – whether they are poor household slaves or wealthy Jewish merchants, tentmakers or ex-soldiers. It is there that our hearts are knit together as we break bread and share our lives with one another at the Lord’s table. It doesn’t even matter how many or how few we are, He always meets with us. In fact He has promised that He always will.
“Have you forgotten what you told me, about the time when the Lord washed your feet? How you felt as He served you? How can we serve non-Jews if we won’t even sit at the same table with them?
Paul continued, “Sometimes we lose sight of the forest for the trees. At Jerusalem, you’ve spent most of your time with believers whose background is Judaism, so you don’t see the damage that eating apart can cause. We are all one body and sitting at a table, eating together, sharing our faith-walk and praying for each other brings a reality to that one body, especially when the group is a crazy mix of people from many backgrounds.
“I hope there are no hard feelings, but there are times when we need another brother to point out something that we already knew, but have forgotten. Remember the Lord’s words to you, before He sent you to Cornelius, “Do not call anything unclean if God has made it clean.” And then later, your own words to the believing Jews in Jerusalem,” God is no respecter of persons.” You were there that night. You know even more than I, what the Lord endured on the cross, to reconcile us with the Father and to enable us all to come to His table. How can you separate yourself from our Gentile brothers here in Antioch by not eating together with them, at the Lord’s table? And by the way, you are influencing Barnabas and the others by what you are doing. Peter looked down knowing that Paul was right.
Paul stopped talking, thinking that perhaps he had said enough. And he had!
Peter, sensing that it was time for him to respond, stopped stroking his beard. “You know Paul, it’s been twenty years now since Jesus died. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of all the things he said on that final night about all that he came to do. But isn’t it great that we have each other for encouragement, especially at times like this. Thank you for correcting me, I hate hypocrisy. You are a wise brother, Paul.”
Just then Barnabas came into the courtyard. Peter put his big fisherman’s hand on Barnabas’ shoulder. You and I my friend will sit with some Gentile brother’s at our Lord’s table tomorrow night, and we will share with them about our Lord. We’ll tell them what his death has meant for us, and we’ll celebrate his resurrection as we look forward to our own, and as together we anticipate Messiah’s coming banquet!
Not only are these folk our brothers, but we need to show them that we are theirs also !
It was not long after this that Peter stood up during one of the meals and said, “Brothers, do you realize what the risen Lord is doing in our midst? He paused to give them a moment to reflect on the question. Some of you men are of Jewish heritage, others are Gentiles, but we are all fellowshipping with the same Lord Jesus, the Christos, God’s anointed one. Let us no longer make a distinction based on our past – for we are now one in Christ, let us be known simply and only as “Christians!” As each man and woman sensed the witness of God’s Spirit to this proposal, each rose to his feet and loudly responded “Amen!”
Acts 10 and 11