The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
For us, there can be no ifs or buts or maybes—because there wasn’t for Jesus. He was put on the spot, on trial before the high priest, Caiaphas. Jesus’ reply was a shocker. He claimed that a seat alongside this ‘living God’ was His by right.
As the drama of Jesus’ last hours plays out in this chapter, there is shock after shock. First, Jesus tells His inner circle that He’ll be crucified the day after tomorrow. A woman outrages the males at their sacred Passover meal with her exorbitant act. Jesus discloses that there is an informer in their midst and that they will all desert him in the hours to follow, including their leader Peter, the rock.
But familiarity dulls us to the most shocking element of all.
‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’
This is just as shocking, in its own way, as His crucifixion.
How could Jesus’ circle of devout Jewish disciples, on that Passover night, have imagined participating in this—Jesus telling them to symbolically drink ‘blood’ and to eat his flesh! What a shock to their systems, to their Jewish identity, to their national traditions, to their understanding of forgiveness of sins, to their hopes for a messiah. Surely only God is authorised to replace Israel’s covenant at Sinai? Jesus hijacks the customary Passover meal in Jerusalem, turning it into something that is all about Him. This is a radically new way into a relationship with God. There is now nothing exclusively Jewish about it.
Miles away, just off Tokai Main Rd, and 1 986 years later at the bottom of Africa, we commemorate Jesus life-giving death this way.
What does Jesus also draw attention to that night?
To the woman who pours exotic perfume on His head in her extravagant display of love for Him, Jesus says this provides an anointing for His burial. ‘For she has done a beautiful thing to me…to prepare me for burial’ (verse 10f.) And, sure enough, this morning in the blog, we are still thinking about this woman’s bold act, as Jesus foretold.
How do we express our love for the Lord?