Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

Carolyn Capern, former intern
June 8, 2012

Former Intern, Carolyn Capern

Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

In the familiar passages of Mark 14:12-16 and 22-26, we read about the preparations made by Jesus and his disciple, who are about to observe the rituals of the Passover feast. This important sacrament honored the grace of God in carrying the Jewish people out of their bondage in Egypt. We don’t learn much about the preparations themselves in this passage, but religious historians and a reading of the Torah lead us to believe that they would have been quite detailed. To this day, traditional Jewish homes preparing for the Passover will undergo a major cleaning, the removal of leavened foods, and a carefully choreographed ritual meal.

Preparations are an integral part of religious ritual. The liturgies we read, the prayers we pray, the songs we sing—they’re all about preparing our hearts to step into the presence of God. We ‘spring clean’ our hearts so that we can connect better on a spiritual level. One of the most important of these preparation steps is the act of gratitude—giving thanks. During the Passover celebrations depicted in this passage, Jesus gives thanks over the bread and the cup before partaking, humbling himself before the God who provides everything—even though he knew that he would soon become a new kind of sacrificial lamb.

When we give thanks, we center ourselves around what is truly important, and remove our own pride from the actions we take. We honor the God who gave us everything that we have, and who loves us with unconditional grace, and in doing so, we open ourselves to receive a higher level of spiritual understanding. What can you do today to humble yourself in gratitude to God?