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Bible 1 Yr – Day 316 – John Recounts the Last Supper

Today we read John’s recounting of the Last Supper. It is important to remember when reading John that his Gospel was written last and that he likely had read one or more of the other synoptic Gospels. Thus, John writes with at least the partial purpose of filling in some of the blanks.

John begins by again telling us that the “feast of the Passover” was at hand. Next we see Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles:

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples ‘feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jn 13:3-5

There are two important aspects of this scene that are often missed. First, the laying aside of the garment is symbolic of the laying aside of Jesus’ earthly life. The “covering” of his human life is being put aside and his true nature and purpose is to be fully revealed. Second, the washing of the feet harkens back to Exodus 40 where Aaron washed before entering the tent of meeting to become a priest. Washing is a symbol of ordination to the Priesthood.

Peter, ever bold and obstinate, can’t bear to see the Lord lower himself to such a task:

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

Jn 13:6-8

Jesus again teaches Peter the lesson he has taught him so many times. The lesson we all must learn. To be a disciple means to participate with Jesus ON HIS TERMS. Failure to do so means you do not really participate with him.

Then comes this curious exchange:

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. …”

Jn 13:9-10

This is believed to be a reference to Baptism and that the Apostles at some point had been baptized (even though the event is not specifically recorded in scripture). One who is bathed (baptized) does not need to wash – to clean the whole self – because they have been born anew (on the inside). However, they still need to wash their feet because sin, still clings to us. We need constant polishing but do not repeatedly need fundamental renewal.

Then there is a second reference to Priesthood and the mission of the Apostles:

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jn 13:15-17

So the Apostles, are to be our teachers, setting the example and shepherding the faithful. To complete this task, Jesus gives them true authority. In ancient times the concept on an Apostle was similar to that of an Ambassador today. They come, with the authority of the one who sent them, to speak on their behalf:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Jn 13:20

Finally, Jesus give the new commandment. We all know it well.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jn 13:34-35

But what does “to love one another” really mean? The best explanation I have ever read, I actually read in a book called The Story of a Soul, which are the memoirs of a nun. Written in 1897, The Story of a Soul is perhaps the most widely read spiritual biography in history. When her relics toured France (where she lived) and Ireland (who adopted her cause) it is estimated that 9 of every 10 people in the entire country attended. Known as the “Little Flower”, Saint Therese of Lisieux entered the Convent at age 15, after traveling to Rome and asking the Pope directly for permission to enter early. She lived only until age 24 and wrote the book at the instruction of her mother superior as she became too sick to work. A simple girl, her spirituality, known as the “Little Way” is now counted as one of the greatest works of theology in history.  She explains:

Among the countless graces I have received this year, perhaps the greatest has been that of being able to grasp in all its fullness the meaning of charity. I had never before fathomed Our Lord’s words: “The second commandment is like the first: Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” I had striven to above all to love God, and in loving him I discovered the secret of those other words, “Not everyone that sayeth to me: Lord, Lord!! shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father.” Jesus made me understand what this will was by the words He used at the Last Supper when he gave his “new commandment” and told His apostles “to love one another as He had loved them.” I began to consider just how Jesus had loved his disciples.

I saw it was not for their natural qualities, for I recognized they were ignorant men and often preoccupied with earthly affairs. Yet He calls hem His friends and His brethren. He wants to see them near Him in the kingdom of His Father and to open this kingdom to them He wills to die on the Cross, saying: “Greater love than this no man hath, than a man lay down his file for his friends.”

As I meditated on these words of Jesus, I saw how imperfect was my love for the other nuns and I knew that I did not love them as Jesus loves them. But now I realize that true Charity consists in bearing with all the defects of our neighbor, in not being surprised at his failings, and in being inspired by his least virtues. Above all; Charity must not remain shut up in the depths of the heart, for “no man lights a candle and puts it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house”. It seems to me that this candle represents the Charity which ought to enlighten and make joyful, not only those who are dearest to me but, “All who are in the house.”

O Jesus, I know You command nothing that is impossible. You know how weak and imperfect I am, and you know only too well that I could never love the other nuns as You love them if You Yourself did not love them within me. It is because You wish to grant me this grace that You have given a new commandment. How I cherish it, for it assures me that it is Your will to love in me all those whom You command me to love.

-Saint Therese of Lisieux, in her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul”.

Saint Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

11 thoughts on “Bible 1 Yr – Day 316 – John Recounts the Last Supper”

  1. How do the dead pray for us, if all the dead are raised and the living are taken to heaven at the same time?

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17King James Version (KJV)
    16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
    17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

  2. Paul urges all of us to pray for one another: “(ESV) First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 1Ti 2:1

    Jesus says that God is a God of the living: “(ESV) And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” Mar 12:26-27

    In Revelation, we see that those who have gone before us are not dead but are alive in heaven and bringing our prayers to Jesus on the throne in the form of incense which is gathered i golden bowls: “(ESV) And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty- four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Rev 5:8

    Taken together we can see that souls of the departed are in heaven – alive and actively interceding for us by bringing our prayers to God. This is the same as if you ask me to pray for you here on earth. On earth, you have concerns you pray about and ask me to pray on your behalf and bring those same concerns to Jesus. In heaven, the living saints are concerned about us and bring our prayers to Jesus. Since these are glorified souls their intellects and holiness is greater than ours. Thus we can be confident that they add their prayers to ours as they petition the Lord.

  3. You’ve said that God operates out of our concept of time and space. But now, people who have died years ago will have been in heaven for years before I get there. If that’s the, case why are the dead being raised to life in the 1Thessalonians scripture I quoted? They would already be in heaven, right?

    And like this verse, it says at the LAST trumpet sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, but if they are already in heaven, why do they need to be raised?

    1 Corinthians 15:51-53King James Version (KJV)
    51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
    52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
    53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

    It sounds like to me, that it all happens at the same time.

  4. The verses you reference are talking about the resurrection of the body. When we die we go to heaven or hell but at first only our souls are there. At the end of day are souls will be reunited with our bodies. This is what happened to Jesus after the Resurrection. Our bodies will be like his. Physical and solid yet not bounded by matter.

    Although God exists outside of time it is not clear whether in heaven we will exist outside of time. It seems that clear that we will not experience the passage of time in the same way we do now. However, it also seems that we will be able to experience progression of events. Exactly how it all works is not known.

    Lazarus did not go to heaven. Before the resurrection Heaven was not open. The spirits of the righteous who died before Jesus went to a place traditionally referred to as “Phulake” (pronounced foo-lock-a). which means “holding place”. This is the place Jesus describes as “the bosom of Adam” in the parable about the rich man and the poor man. Upon his death Jesus went there and preached the gospel to the righteous and opened the gates of heaven. (ESV) “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison…” 1Pe 3:18-19

    When you are in heaven, your will is conformed perfectly to God’s will. You want what he wants because God is all good and wants what is best for you. Thus, even if Lazarus had been in heaven he would have been happy to return from heaven to help Jesus fulfill his mission. He would have wanted what God wanted and God wanted him to be resurrected to foreshadow what was to come.

  5. Revelation 4:4King James Version (KJV)
    4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their HEADS crowns of gold.

    Revelation 7:9King James Version (KJV)
    9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their HANDS

    Heads and hands sounds like bodies in heaven to me, not formless souls.

    “Lazarus did not go to heaven. Before the resurrection Heaven was not open. The spirits of the righteous who died before Jesus went to a place traditionally referred to as “Phulake” (pronounced foo-lock-a). which means “holding place”. This is the place Jesus describes as “the bosom of Adam” in the parable about the rich man and the poor man. Upon his death Jesus went there and preached the gospel to the righteous and opened the gates of heaven. (ESV) “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison…” 1Pe 3:18-19”

    Then how would Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be alive in heaven with the other believers because you said this earlier,
    Jesus says that God is a God of the living: “(ESV) And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” Mar 12:26-27

    Plus, Jesus preached to spirits in prison, why would God put Abraham’s soul in prison? Prison is a punishment for doing wrong, no?

    1. 1 Peter 3:19-20King James Version (KJV)

      19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
      20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

  6. Also, this
    2 Kings 2King James Version (KJV)
    2 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

  7. First (and again) we are not told exactly how all this specifically works. In heaven, even though we don’t have bodies we still “see” God. In heaven, our intellects are perfected and we will be “like angles”. Angels don’t have bodies but they can manifest to us with the appearance of a body. Have you ever seen the movie “The Matrix” remember when Neo first goes in and he appears to look like what he thinks he looks like. Morpheus says it is a “residual self image”. I think it will be like that. B/c our minds are used to a certain way of relating they will still relate to each other in that way. Further, angels can move things simply by thinking it. Thus we will be able to “hold” things, simply by willing it.

    “Prison” is the same as Phulake or “the holding place”. It is poetic language and just means where the righteous waited until Jesus died and opened the gates of heaven. It was not a place of punishment.

    The people in Phulake are alive in that their souls still exist and are destined for heaven. I’m not sure if I really understood the point you were trying to make about Abraham being alive.

    It is attested in the Bible the Elijah was taken to heaven body and soul. It is also tradition that although Moses died on earth he was taken to heaven body and soul.

  8. “Prison” is the same as Phulake or “the holding place”. It is poetic language and just means where the righteous waited until Jesus died and opened the gates of heaven. It was not a place of punishment.”

    The verse says this “prison” was a place for those who were disobedient to God long ago,
    1 Peter 3:18-20King James Version (KJV)
    18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
    19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
    20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

    Prison carries a negative connotation, does it not? So, why would God put Abraham in the same place as people who disobeyed him and why would Christ need to preach to Abraham, who was already declared righteous by God?

    Romans 4:3
    For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    Galatians 3:6
    Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
    James 2:23
    And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

  9. If you recall Jesus parable of the rich man and the poor man he describes the poor man as being in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man is across a gulf or valley. However, the rich man can still see the poor man and when he calls out they seem to be able to hear him. The rich man asks that the poor man be allowed to dip his finger in the water and drip a drop of water on his tongue. So despite this great gulf between them it may be that it can be crossed by the righteous but not the wicked. In any event, it seems to be one place with 2 distinct “sides”. I don’t think this is literal per se. I think it is more metaphorical with the gulf really being the lack of relationship with God. Suffice it to say the righteous were in a waiting place of happiness and the wicked of suffering.

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