While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the* covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:22-26)
According to the Gospels, Jesus gathered his followers to celebrate the Passover meal. By now, the disciples had begun to suspect that the tide had turned against them. They could feel it in the air -- the sentiment going against the teacher. The teacher seemed to know it too, and so he gathered the group together, shared with them the prospects for the coming day, and then shared a meal with them. It would be his last.
One Holy Thursday we gather at the Table of the Lord, to remember his last supper, to share in the stories and the songs that give meaning to our celebration. "This is my body," Jesus says. "This is the blood of the covenant," he adds. His death awaits, and yet he institutes a supper because he understood that the cross was not the final word.
Before, we can get to Easter, however, we must go through the cross. We must walk with Jesus as he faces the agony of death and abandonment. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" -- those words must come from the mouth of the Lord, before we can sing "Christ the Lord, Is Risen Today."
But, those events still await our attention. For now, we share in a meal -- as was the custom of Jesus. We see pictures of Jesus with the twelve, but surely Jesus' table fellowship was broader than this. His was a welcome table, may ours be as well.