The banner at the top of this page is da Vinci’s portrait of the Last Supper. Renaissance Christians knew that Jesus and his disciples were not white with brown hair and blue eyes. They would not have been sitting in chairs at a table either. Despite the cultural “anomalies” the most important things are still visible; Jesus broke bread and passed the cup. That, after all, was the point.
This is Holy Week, the final days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, but these days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday are about remembering the last precious days that Jesus had with his closest followers. This would be the last time they celebrated Passover together, and Jesus still had a lessor or two he wanted to share. During the course of the meal, he gets up from the table and removed his outer robe. He then ties a towel around his waist, kneels on the floor, and begins washing the disciples feet. We know what happens to our own feet during the summer months, going about in sandals or flops. Imagine wearing sandals everyday and walking everywhere you went. He then asks if they understand why. Jews did not wash feet; feet are unclean, both literally and religiously to the Jews. He was their Master and Lord (and maker of heaven and earth) but he was humble like a servant. If he then, he explains, is willing to wash their feet they should each be doing the same. It is not a literal command to wash feet, but a lesson about humility and service to others.
Jesus broke bread to remind his followers that his body was broken. The fruit of the vine in the cup reminds us that his blood was poured out. He said that without taking part in his body and blood we had no part in him. But if we receive the one he sends – the Holy Spirit – then we receive him. And if we receive him, we receive the one who sent him – God the Father. The Hebrews had been celebrating Passover since they were brought out of Egypt. When the death angel saw the blood of the sacrifice it “passed over” that home, sparing the first born. Jesus takes the elements of that meal, and gives them new meaning for his followers. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. When God sees the blood of Jesus on our hearts, his judgement will pass over.