The King of Stories -- The Hiding of the Bread

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

Due to plot complexities and subtleties, I will need to give more overt plotnotes (not just parenthetical helps like this) as things progress. This plot tracking won't really kick in until the end begins in Gethsemane, but I thought I'd mention it now since I'll have to include more notes than usual in this entry today.

The title of today's entry comes from a portion of the seder service where the burn-striped unleavened bread is hidden for a time. A turn of phrase used by the Evangelist, and the fact that the seder meal is being prepared for in this chapter, suggested the title to me.

The Hiding of the Bread (the day before the end...)

Then (say the Scholar, Disciple and Follower) was coming the first day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover (lamb) must be sacrificed.

Now He (Jesus) sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."

[Plotnote: In specially problematic or important circumstances, the seder may be held one night early rather than risk not keeping it at all--the typical reason being that a battle must be fought on the morrow. Jesus is asking Peter and John to make sure there is someone preparing a quiet place, and bread, and lamb and other things for them on Thursday night, which in that year was the first of two days in which the Passover could be celebrated. By holding the service one night early, Jesus might as well be telling them that there will be a fight tomorrow--which in fact He has been telling them, since the Transfiguration. It just isn’t the kind of battle they insist on expecting. The Lamb, however, knows that He will be unable to celebrate the Passover ceder tomorrow night with His followers...]

And they said to Him, "Where do You want us to make it ready?"

And He said to them, "Look close!--when you have entered the city (i.e. Jerusalem), a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him into the house he enters. Now you shall say to the head of the house, 'The Rabbi says to you, "My time is at hand. I am to keep the Passover at your house. Where is My 'caravansarai' in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' And this one will show you a large, furnished, upper-room.

"Make it ready there."

And they went, and found it just as He had told them.

And they prepared the Passover.

[Plotnote: observe the very unusual word for such a request: 'kataluma', or caravanserai, would not normally be used, even for an 'inn', in such a situation. i.e., this is a code, so that the head of the house, whoever he or she may be, will know that it really is Jesus Who is asking. It is a very appropriate codeword, though, since Jesus and His ‘caravan’ will not be staying here long...]


Now (the Evangelist takes his turn of the tale for a moment), there were some Greeks from the ones going up in the Feast(week) to worship.

So these came to Philip--from Bethsaida of Galilee (the Evangelist reminds his audience, meaning Bethsaida-Julius, the town that would have more ‘Greeks’ in it)--and they asked of him, saying, "Sir, we want to become acquainted with Jesus."

Philip is coming and telling Andrew; and again, Andrew and Philip are coming and telling Jesus.

Yet Jesus (apparently in the streets of the city but not in the Temple, according to the details of the previous day) is answering them, saying:

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

"I promise, I promise, I tell you the truth: if a kernel of grain, falling into the earth, should not be dying, it is remaining alone... yet if it should be dying, it is bringing much fruit.

"The one who is fond of his soul destroys it, but the one who rejects his soul in this world shall guard it for God's own life.

"If any should serve Me, then let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will also be. And if any should serve Me, the Father shall honor him.

"But My soul is so grieved...

"Yet, what should I be saying?! 'Beloved Father, save Me from this hour'!?

"It was for this reason that I came into this hour... ... Beloved Father! May Your name be glorified!"

Then--a voice came, out of the heaven:


So the group standing (nearby) hears this, and said: "A thunderclap comes!" Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him!"

Jesus answered and said, "This Voice has not come for My sake, but for you!

"Now is the judging of this world! Now shall the Chief of this world be ejected!

"Yet, if I should be raised up out of the earth, I shall be drawing everything toward Myself!!"

Now He said this (explains the Evangelist), signifying what death He would soon be dying.

But the group (of Greeks from Bethsaida-Julias?) answered Him, "We hear from the Law (actually the Prophets) that the King Anointed remains into the eon; yet why are you saying the Son of Man must be lifted up??" "Who is this 'Son of Man'??"

Jesus then said to them:

"The Light is still among you for a little time. Be walking while you have the light, lest the darkness may overtake you. Now, whoever is walking in the darkness cannot see where he is going.

"As you have the light, be trusting the Light, that you may become the heir-children of Light."

Now Jesus cries out, and said:

"Whoever is trusting in Me, is not trusting Me, but the One Who sends Me!

"And whoever sees Me, is seeing the One Who sends Me!!

"I have come into the world, as Light--that everyone trusting in Me should not be remaining in darkness!

"Yet... if anyone ever should hear My declarations and will not keep them... I am not judging him. For I did not come that I may be judging the world--but so that I may be saving the world!!

"He who rejects Me and does not receive My declarations, does have something judging him: the word that I speak. That will be judging him in the last day, because I do not speak on My own authority. But the Father Who sends Me--He has given the command to Me what I may be saying and what I may speak.

"And I am aware what His command is:

"'Life eonian!!' (Life from the Everlasting, i.e. God's own life.)

"So what I speak, thus I do speak;

"just as the Father has told Me."

These things Jesus says; and (then) going away, He was hidden from them.


Yet (says the Evangelist)--after He had done so many signs in front of them...

they did not trust Him.

Thus the word of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled,

Lord, who believes our news?
And the arm of the Lord--to whom was it revealed?!

So, they could not believe.

See that Isaiah said again:

He has blinded their eyes
and hardens their hearts

lest their eyes may see
and their hearts understand
and may be turning around (repenting)
--_yet I shall be healing them!_

Isaiah said these things, because he perceived His glory, and speaks concerning Him.

And yet (the Evangelist emphasizes)--many of the chiefs did also trust in Him!

But likewise, because of the Pharisees, they also did not stand up, lest they might be put from the synagogue--for they are loving the glory from people...

rather than even the glory of God.


Now before the Passover (all the storytellers join in harmony...)

When at the evening hour (but before the sun had set), He came with the twelve (to the place prepared by Peter and John).

Jesus knows that His hour has come, that He should depart from the world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world--He does love them (the Evangelist promises) into the uttermost completion!

Yet during the supper, the devil has already put into the heart of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Him.

Now as they were reclining (at the table for the regular supper, before the seder ritual), there arose a dispute among them (one more time!): which one of them was considered to be the greatest?

[Plotnote: bickering over the seating arrangements probably. Pay attention later to what these were...]

Jesus, knowing that the Father has given all things into His hands, and that He has come forth from God and is going back to God, rose from the supper, and laid aside His (outer) garments; and taking a towel, He wrapped it around Himself.

Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was wrapped.

(...beyond how a slave would be expected to serve even commoners...)

And so He came to Simon Peter, who is saying to Him: "Master!! Do you wash my feet?!"

Jesus answered and said to him, "You do not yet understand what I am doing... but you will understand later."

Peter said to Him, "May it never be, that you should wash my feet!!"

Jesus answered him: "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me!"

Simon Peter said to Him, "...sir--not my feet only then, but also my hands and my head."

Jesus said to him, "Whoever has been washed, needs only to wash his feet, but is (otherwise) completely clean. And you are clean.

"But... not all of you are."

For He knew the one who was betraying Him; this (explains the Evangelist) is why He said, "Not all of you are clean."

And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined (at the table) again, He said to them:

"Do you understand what I have done to you?

"You call Me 'Rabbi', and 'Lord'--and you say well! For so I am.

"So: if I, the Lord and the Teacher wash your feet... you ought to wash each other's feet!

"For I have given to you an example, that you should also do as I have done to you.

"The kings of the pagans lord it over them; and the pressing authorities over them are called the 'Benefactors'!

"But, not so with you! But let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.

"For, who is greater?--the one who reclines (to eat), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines? But I am among you all as the One Who serves!

"I promise, I promise, I tell you the truth: a slave is not greater than his Master; neither is one who is sent greater than the One who sends him!

"Now, you are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you all will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

"If you understand these things, you will be happy if you do them.

"I do not speak of all of you, but I know the ones whom I have chosen (i.e. to judge the tribes of Israel, when the kingdom comes); yet that the Scripture (in the Psalm) may be fulfilled:

"'He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'

"I am telling you beforehand what is happening after this, so that when it does occur, you may trust: I AM.

"I promise, I promise, I tell you the truth: whoever receives whomever I send, is receiving Me; and he who is receiving Me, receives the One Who sends Me."

When Jesus had said this, He began growling in His soul, and swore, and strongly declared:

"I promise... I promise... I tell you the truth:

"one of you is betraying Me!!

"Now look!--the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going, as it has been determined... but wail for that man, by whom He is betrayed...! It would have been good if that man had not been born!"

The disciples started looking at one another, at a loss about whom He was declaring. And they began discussing among themselves which one of them it might be, who was going to do this deed.

One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table on His right.

[Plotnote: literally ‘reclining on His chest’; on the side His chest is facing. This is the place of most honor, symbolic of the heart and face of the table-host being open to this person.]

So Simon Peter is motioning to him, and saying to him, "Speak (to Him)--who is He talking about...?!"

And being deeply aggravated, one (disciple) after another began to say to Him, "Surely, Master, it is not I!"

Therefore, leaning back on Jesus' chest (both of them are reclining at table, so this is how the disciple on Jesus' right would whisper in His ear, and hear in return), he said to Him, "Master--who is it?"

So Jesus answered: "The one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him."

When He had dipped the morsel therefore... He is taking and giving to Judas the son of Simon Iscariot!

[Plotenote: The final piece of bread, in the final bit of sop from the plate, is traditionally given by the host to a guest in special honor, typically seated immediately to the left. Jesus has greatly honored Judas by giving him this seating. It is likely that the squabbling about who was greatest among them, was occasioned by Jesus’ choice over who should be sitting on His right and His left. Keep in mind His comment about a child again, paralleling His remonstrance to them back in His final days in Capernaum; and that He had told the sons of Zebedee that the kind of ‘seats’ being prepared for them were not the kind that they and their mother were expecting!]

Now Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said (out loud like the others), "Surely, Rabbi, it is not I!"

He said to him:

"As you say."

[Note: the traditional reply of affirmation in deeply grave or sad circumstances; courtesy forbids a more direct response.]

And after the morsel, Satan entered into him then.

And Jesus said (apparently to the Evangelist, quietly), "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me."

Jesus therefore said to Judas:

"What you are doing--be doing it more quickly..."

Now, none of the ones reclining (says the Evangelist, exempting himself and Judas and Jesus, obviously...) knew for what purpose He said this to him. For some were supposing that Jesus was saying to him, "Buy the things we have need of for the Feast." (i.e. tomorrow night, when the Passover seder would normally be held; these disciples are assuming this strange meal wasn't intended by their rabbi to be the actual ritual after all.)

Or else, that he should give something to the poor (as traditionally done at Passover seders; these disciples are supposing they might be celebrating one night early after all, as Jesus had indicated.)

Because Judas had the money box.

And so, after receiving the morsel, he immediately departed.

And it was night...

Matthew 26:17-25
Mark 14:12-21
Luke 22:7-14
Luke 22:21-30
John 12:20-50
John 13:1-30

[Next time: The Body and the Blood]


BK said…

This is truly a great entry in your series. I am really enjoying reading through it.
Jason said…
Thanks. I have to admit, while I have lots of 'favorite' parts in the Gospels, including other places where I start tearing up, I can hardly get through these chapters without tears seeping down my face. {s}

But the end is worth it. {g!}

Jason said…
I had to say that a little faster than I intended; on the drive to church, though, I thought over what I had said, and realized it falls rather short of what I meant, and might even give the wrong impression.

The problem is that if I try to express my heart concerning these portions, it may seem as though I mean that I don't think the Resurrection is necessary for completion of the story. That isn't true: historically and theologically both, I consider the Resurrection to be of crucial importance--important enough to be crucified for!

Even so, the love that God is showing here, even before the Resurrection, not only for His allies (who mostly desert Him) but for His enemies...

There would be nothing of 'news' about a god, even God, loving His allies. But that He gives His own life for the sake of His enemies, is a gospel worth being torn to pieces for.

And I would say it even more strongly than that, if I had the words to do so. {s}


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