Implementing Careful Planning for Passover

Luke 22: 1-14

Now the feast of unleavened bread, referred to as the Passover, drew near. And the chief priests and the scribes were conspiring together [secretly] as to how they might destroy him because they were afraid of the people. This was when Satan took possession of Judas, also known as Iscariot, being numbered among the twelve and he went and held discussions with the chief priests and military officers how he might betray him to them.
And they were delighted and [eagerly] agreed to give him his nominated fee. He was in full earnest and from then on sought an opportunity to betray him, away from the crowds.
Then the day of unleavened bread arrived on which the Passover lamb was to be slain. And he appointed Peter and John saying to them:
“I want you to go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we might eat it together.”
And they asked him. “Where do you wish for us to prepare it.” And he replied, “Note carefully! Upon entering the city [gates] a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him into the house to which he will go. And upon entering you will say to the steward of the house, ‘The Teacher has a message: Where is the dining room, where I might eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And that man will show you an upstairs room which has been fully furnished (for such an occasion as this]. There you are to make our preparations.”
And they went and found just as he had said to them and they made preparations to share the Passover together.

Now Luke has already indicated that Jesus’ arrangements for his entry into Jerusalem – riding on the colt of an ass – were made in advance by him, carefully and with discretion.

Luke doesn’t tell us directly why such commands were necessary, why discretion was needed. He leaves it to Theophilus (and thus also to us) to figure it out.

We are left with the impression that Jesus had actually carefully, and discreetly, arranged these events with the people concerned.

When we reflect up the fact that their names are not given in any of the Gospel accounts, and that the details of Jesus’ arrangements before sending off two disciples both times to get things ready, we may begin to notice something that hadn’t been all that obvious before. We are left with very little information of what the bulk of Jesus’ disciples – apart from Peter, James and John – were doing during his teaching travels. And though we do know from Luke that Peter and John were deputed to go into Jerusalem to arrange the Passover banquet, we become aware of the fact that we don’t know who the two were who arranged Jesus’ donkey transport.

Moreover, we do not know who owned the donkey, or the location or the name of the owner of the house with its upper room. So why does Luke seem to want us to know there are“gaps” in the details he gives us? Is he by doing so, telling us something important?

Is Luke suggesting to Theophilus, and to us, that there were significant details he could have uncovered by further research but which he left unexplored? He is certainly suggesting that Jesus had supporters, the names of whom are not given. There were plans laid and decisions made that Jesus’ closest disciples didn’t know about, either at the time or later on when Luke was piecing his story together.

So, Luke is inferring that Jesus’ was at times busy beyond the gaze of his closest disciples. There were persons who remain nameless who were important and who participated in these two events. They agreed to help Jesus with what he had to do. The story of Jesus cannot be told without reference to what they did. They were important; there was careful planning and yet they remain nameless, and their namelessness is almost all we know about them.

We can imagine Luke, as he gathered material together, asking the Apostles about what happened and how it was brought about. And these two events have subsequently been part of the Christian story- how can the story of Jesus be told without Palm Sunday and the Last Supper?

Mark and Matthew seem to have known that Jesus sent two disciples on both occasions. If they knew who were sent they weren’t saying. Was this because, at the time, only they and Jesus knew about these secretive operations? Why then the secrecy?

Are we therefore in these matters dealing with the response of Jesus once he began to suspect Judas’ loss of commitment, his betrayal?

John and Peter could later reveal to Luke that it was they who were commissioned by Jesus to prepare the Passover – but Luke’s account still conveys the secrecy by which carried out Jesus’ orders. Why is this? Could it be that the location of the celebration would be kept secret so that their Passover with Jesus was not interrupted by a policeman’s knock on the door?

There are unknowns here – but it is also clear that Jesus was sensitive about the householder’s identity. It seems that he was keen that this person be kept free from suspicion. However this is resolved, we will also note that it was at the Passover meal that Jesus would tell the disciples that he knew one of their number had betrayed him.


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