The last supper that Jesus had with his disciples (apostles) was in the upper room just before the feast of the Passover. The scriptures say, “He loved his own which were in the world . . . he loved them unto the very end”. We have no record where Jesus prayed, “Father, I’ve made 12 bad mistakes”, or “Father, give me another chance to pick my disciples, I’ll do better next time!”. He loved them, each and every one and that love extended “unto the very end” (John 13:1-38).
There was the traditional water, bowl and towel, at the doorway for the washing of feet. This cleansing of the dust of the road was a welcome sign to all who entered. No disciple seemed willing to take up the towel. Jesus rises from the supper table, girds himself with the towel and began washing the disciple’s feet. One has to wonder what the disciples felt when he knelt before each one and began the simple process without saying a word. Judas, Simon’s son was there, but seemed totally distracted by the fact that he had already decided to betray his Master. Simon Peter was the only one who spoke saying, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “What I do you know not now, but you will know hereafter”. Peter rebuked him with the words, “Thou shall never wash my feet!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash your feet, you have no part with me”. Peter said, “Lord, not my feet only but my hands and my head”. Just give me a bath, was the idea.
Then Jesus said, “You call me master and Lord, and you say well; if I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet . . . if you know these things, happy are you if you do them”.
The famous masterpiece in the painting of the LAST SUPPER was completed by Leonardo da Vinci. Yet behind that painting was a greater story than the painting itself. De Vinci felt that he should use living persons as models since this was commissioned to be such an important picture. He started with the painting of Christ. Literally hundreds of young men were studied to find a man whose face portrayed the innocence, strength and beauty of the man. After a long search he found the one who could best portray Jesus. The painting of Christ took six months to complete. When this was accomplished it took six years more in painting the disciples. All twelve were completed except one – Judas. The face of Judas was a real problem. After a long discouraging search, he heard of a man that was imprisoned in Rome and sentenced to die for brutal crimes.
Leonardo journeyed to Rome and the prisoner was brought before him. Something in his face startled him. He couldn’t understand it but without question he would be the one chosen to represent the Christ. Judas Iscariot, the Savior’s betrayer was somehow written in the lines of his face. With special permission from the King, the prisoner was brought to Milan, shackled in chains. For six months he sat at the appointed hours each day. Finally the gifted artist finished his portrait and the painting. As the guards were taking the prisoner away he broke loose. Rushing toward De Vinci he gasped, “Look at me. Look into my eyes. Do you know who I am?” The shocked painter was taken aback. “How would I know you? I never saw you before they brought you in for that interview in Rome.”
The prisoner lifted his heads toward heaven and cried, “O God, have I departed so far and sunken so low?” Turning to the shocked artist, he cried, “Look at me again. I am the same man you painted seven years ago for the portrait of Christ!” How strange we tend to look like the one we follow, whether it is Christ or some other leader. Little by little and step by step we imitate in word and deed the one who masters us.
Paul writes about the Christian, “Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:17-18).
Matthew recalled the final chapter of the betrayal. “The Judas. . .when he saw he was condemned, repented himself and brought the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood . . . but they cared nothing for it . . . and he cast down the pieces of silver . . . and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5).
Our son Ed was a great poet. He compiled a book of poems authored by himself and others called, “SHARING, A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE IN POETRY“. In the last page of the book was one of his writings. Let me share it with you.
“The suffering of the ages, found in one man
On a lonely hill, outside the great city, Jerusalem.
No one was there to cry, he was all alone;
God himself cannot witness the spectacle.
The slow unchanging creaking of the wood,
With its unwanted weight tied to it.
Yet, even when the creaking has long ceased,
No one mourns him; no one will mourn for his sake,
For Judas Iscariot!”