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Mark 14:12–16

“The disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as Jesus had told them, and they prepared the Passover” (v. 16).

Every spring, during ancient times, Jews would leave their homes and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This was in keeping with the instructions in Deuteronomy 16:1–8, which include, “You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it.” According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, more than two million Jews would pour into Jerusalem for this feast, though Josephus’ number may be exaggerated. In any case, Jerusalem was certainly crowded with pilgrims. Jewish residents of Jerusalem were expected to open up their homes to Passover pilgrims who came into the city from out of town for the feast, to provide them a place to stay or at least a place to eat the Passover meal.

That is the background of today’s passage, in which Mark begins his account of the Last Supper. Jesus instructs His disciples to go into the city in order to find the location where they will eat the Passover meal. In one sense, this might seem like a minor detail, but our Lord’s deliberate focus on keeping the Passover is a part of His overall work of keeping God’s law perfectly. Jesus was born “under the law” (Gal. 4:4–5), obligated to fulfill all of God’s commandments on behalf of His people. In so doing, our Savior attained the righteousness that is imputed—put on our records—when we trust in Christ alone for salvation (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus prepared to celebrate the Passover for the sake of our salvation, in fulfillment of His messianic vocation.

Christ gives specific instructions to find a man carrying a jar of water, explaining to His disciples that the man will show them the place prepared for Him to celebrate the Passover with the Twelve. This may reflect a miracle whereby the man did not know to prepare the room for Jesus but was moved to do so directly by God when the disciples spoke to him. Or, it could reflect a situation in which Jesus earlier spoke with the man and asked him to get the room ready. Either way, Jesus’ intent to go to the Last Supper, where He would institute the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and experience Judas’ betrayal, shows that Jesus was no passive participant in the events of His death. Though men would do horrible things to Him, Christ, strictly speaking, handed Himself over to them; they did not take Him away as if He were an unwilling actor.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Christ was intent on following the law of God, not only because He wanted to please His Father but also because He wanted to redeem us from our sins. Jesus acted out of love for His Father in heaven and out of love for His people. That amazing truth should motivate us to worship Him today and every day.

For Further Study
  • 2 Chronicles 30
  • Ezra 6:19–22
  • Ezekiel 45:21–24
  • Luke 22:7–13
Related Scripture
  • Jeremiah 4–5
  • 1 Timothy 1

Premeditated Betrayal

Jesus Pronounces an Oracle of Woe

Keep Reading The Sixteenth Century

From the October 2016 Issue
Oct 2016 Issue