The First SupperBy Nathan Mates
To Christians, the Last Supper is a familiar event. The night before his death, Jesus and his 12 disciples celebrated the Jewish Passover celebration [Exodus 12:1-28 is the first Passover]. During that time, Jesus did many significant things that changed the actions of his followers-- Passover was no longer to be celebrated, but instead, communion was started. [Matthew 26:26-28 is one record of that] By taking that bread and cup, Jesus announced to his disciples (once again; they rarely comprehended his words) that he was their messiah.
While the communion is one of the most important practices that we as Christians have gained from the last supper, John's gospel records another significant event: that Jesus washed his disciple's feet: "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." [John 13:3-5]
Jesus did this as an example of how leaders (such as him) should treat those under him. This was a simple fulfillment of his earlier words: "Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."" [Matthew 20:25-28]
After the last supper, Jesus suffered torture and death on the cross, and then rose triumphantly. After that, "While he [Jesus] was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven." [Luke 24:51] Jesus' in conquering sin and death, is now in an awesome position of power and authority. As Peter (who refused to have his feet washed at first) notes, "It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." [1 Peter 3:21-22]
As Christians, we eagerly await his return. It will be impossible to miss his return-- Jesus warns us against people who say that Jesus has returned, but in hiding. Jesus's own words about his second coming are as follows: "But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens." [Mark 13:24-27]
So, with Jesus's return in power and glory, he'll be back and immediately start kicking some unrighteous rears, dispatching justice and being the conquering king returning to take control, right?
When Jesus returns, he will be in glory and power. But, he's chosen to do something else before acting the conquering king:
In Luke 12:35-40, Jesus exhorts his followers to always be ready for God's return, as it will be at an unexpected hour. Jesus uses the metaphor of a master going on a journey, and returning home to a house full of servants and slaves. In such a parable, Jesus is the master who is not physically present, and we are the servants keeping watch and staying ready for his return.
This is what most of us have learned out of the Bible. But, in the middle of that passage, Jesus notes what'll happen on his return: "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he [the master] comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them." [Luke 12:37]
Paraphrased, Jesus says that he'll be back to serve us again-- there'll be a feast, but the Christians will be feasting while Jesus waits on them. These actions described here in Luke are very similar to what Jesus did at the "Last" supper. But, for anyone who is alive at Jesus's return, it'll be the first supper of eternity with Jesus. For all of us, whether we'll see Jesus's return or not, emulating his service and humility is something to aspire to.