Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 10. Chapter 10: Christ Going to the Room of the Passover

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 10. Chapter 10: Christ Going to the Room of the Passover

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SUBJECT: 10. Chapter 10: Christ Going to the Room of the Passover

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Christ Going to the Room of the Passover

Then came the day of the unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye have entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the good-man of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went and found as he had said unto them; and they made ready the passover.


CHRIST goes to the room of the Passover. The way there is the way from the sign of the old sacrament to the reality of which it is the sign in the new sacrament. The road to the room of the Passover is the road from the symbol to the thing symbolized. A cloud of mystery envelops the Christ as He goes. Our Passover goes to His Passover. Angels and devils follow Him.

There is no unanimity of opinion about the details implied, and the circumstances referred to, in the passage quoted above. Since early times men have interpreted the data variously. Just where the Passover was celebrated, for instance, is one of the questions which has perplexed students, and to which these have given no common answer.

We know what the Bible itself tells us about the manner in which the guest room was reserved. The account given of it is a very general one; few specific details are included. By comparing the several narratives of the Gospel, we learn that Jesus, early in the day, told two of His disciples, Peter and John, to go into the city. Obviously, therefore, Jesus and His disciples were still outside of it. At a given place, they were told, they would meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. He is the man they must ask about the place in which the Master can celebrate the Passover. They will find him perfectly willing to direct them to a house, where a guest chamber, suitable for the purpose, will be prepared for them. Some infer from the indication that the room was furnished, that the floor was carpeted, and from that, in turn, that everything was arranged for their convenience, even to the last detail. This may or may not be true; at any rate, the room was not a make-shift affair quickly pressed into service for lack of a better. God in His Providence supplied an apartment whose atmosphere and convenience suited the sanctity of the purpose.

This manner of reserving the room interests us particularly. Jesus sends out Peter and John to take an option on another man’s property, and that without anything resembling a formal transaction. The occasion naturally reminds us of that other day on which Jesus sent out two of His disciples to take possession of a colt. On that day the King made use of the right of confiscation; on this He does so again. He boldly steps up to a man who is walking around somewhere with a pitcher on his shoulder, and arranges matters affecting the man’s property quite as He pleases. That is one of the resemblances between this and the previous instance. There is another. We remarked then that God actively cooperated in the preparations for the entry into Jerusalem, saw to it, for example, that the colt was at the exact spot which Jesus had indicated. That God of providence shapes events in a similar way now. He does His part. He goes out to meet the will of Christ and the burden of prophecy in order that both of these may be fulfilled. It is God who induces the man, particularly predestinated for the purpose before time began, to leave home with the pitcher at exactly that moment, and to cause him to return at a similarly appointed hour. God makes him stop for a few seconds at the specific corner where he is arrested by Peter and John. God Himself spreads the cloth over the table at which the Son of man will lie to partake of the Last

Supper. One can never feel strongly the vital reality of the providence of God unless one observes it closely as it is concretely active in the drama of Jesus’ suffering. . . The temple and its altar are far away but you need not ask where God now reveals the mysteries of His altar. A ripple of movement disturbs the curtain of the temple. Behind it those are ministering who are the official bearers of the right of confiscation. Levi takes his “tenth.” Alas for him—God makes His demands through Christ and for Him.

There is also a great difference, however, between that seizure of the colt and this reservation of the guest room. When Jesus demanded the colt, He was making His appearance in the city in the capacity of a King. As such He took what He needed, irrespective of who the owner was according to the records. In the account which tells us of the preparations for the entry into Jerusalem there is no indication which leads us to believe that the man whose colt He required definitely belonged to the limited group of the disciples. On the contrary we get the impression that he was a man who was not particularly intimate with Jesus. The special assurance given him to the effect that the colt would be returned promptly is one of the factors which suggests that Jesus regarded and treated him as a stranger.[1] At least. Jesus felt that He could not make demands upon the owner of the colt by reason of a tie of friendship.

[1] Notice, in this connection, the correct sense of Mat_21:3 : “...straightway he (the Lord) will (after using the colt) send them”; cf. Mar_11:3 : “revised” text, Grosheide, Kommentaar op Mattheus, p. 246.

But in this instance the man whose house Jesus and His disciples want to use seems from all indications to be a member of the more intimate group of friends and believers. This, too, is not surprising, for Christ appears now not as a King of the city, exercising the prerogatives He has to use the property He needs in it. Instead, He arrives now as the Mediator of the New Testament. He comes to partake of the Passover and to sit down at the table of the Holy Supper. On the other occasion the people massed around Him in throngs; now He isolates Himself from them. He goes to perform a holy task which, although a thousand others are also performing it, He will today make superfluous by substituting for it the better gift of grace: the Holy Supper.

Jesus had deliberately proceeded in a roundabout way that other time in order to attract the attention of the people. As He did then, so He now gives His disciples a sign: there will be a man bearing a pitcher of water, and they will find him at such and such a place. Why this sign, we wonder? Was it to attract the attention of the interested masses again? Was it to plant the disciples more firmly in the faith? Yes, very likely it was for the sake of the disciples, too, for Satan had greatly desired to have them, in order that he might sift them as wheat. But we must not forget that the sign obtains primarily for Jesus’ sake. Jesus’ soul and spirit goes out to God by means of these signs. And by means of them, too, God is working toward Jesus. His trusting but tormented heart seeks a sign, not to dispel doubt, for doubt does not exist, but to show Him by means of this true Passover that He is pleasing God. Christ yearns to know that the place provided for Him in which He may eat the Passover is given to Him as a symbol of the favor of God. By demanding the colt, Christ manifested to all who saw Him that His was the right to property; now by asking that simple conveniences be arranged for Him, Jesus reveals His poverty, not to all, this time, but to the faithful. There is not a place in that whole city upon which Jesus can take an option and say: “This is all my own.”

Therefore the two events which we have been comparing must be regarded as contrasts, or rather, as complements, to each other. The first sign proclaims His wealth; the second gives expression to His voluntary poverty. The first maintains: “By right the whole city is mine.” The second announces: “The son of man hath not where He can lay His head.” The first anticipates His glory; the second acknowledges His passion: listen to the heavy, heavy phrase, “My time is at hand.” The first sign sounds the trumpet for the Prince of the House of David: it demands that all attention be given to the Stem out of Jesse. But the second sign requires that some attention be given to the darker side of that Stem. Mind you, the great Son of David must ask for a room in that city of David in which He may eat after the spirit. Jesus leaves the world, you see, as He entered it. A number of years have passed now since two others, Joseph and Mary, hunted for a place in which the Son of David might be born. That poverty, too, was a token of the disintegration of the House of David which permitted its last children to wander over the world, homeless, naked, unwanted. Well, just as the House of David came into the world then, begging for a favor, so the great Son of David, even though He has been sworn into His office, even though He has persisted in kingly services, and even though in this same hour He will discover the very essence of the kingship of David, nevertheless must hunt[1] for someone who will do Him a favor, in order that He may eat the Passover and introduce the Holy Supper into His church.

[1] Even if we think of a prearrangement on the part of Jesus and the owner of the house (as, for instance, M. Van Rhijn believes, De Evangelisten Marcus en Lukas, Adam, p. 13), this word is appropriate, for it is a question of “favor,” of “borrowing” in contrast to “demanding” or “taking.” However, we have some objections to the theory of “prearrangement,” objections which, because of the nature of this book, we will not mention here.

“Even though” is the conjunction we used. Should it have been “because”? Be still, my heart! The King makes requests wherever He goes, and He must answer them all Himself.

The Man of sorrows is oscillating continually between these two poles, that of glory, and that of utter poverty. Between them lies the passion which He accomplished at Jerusalem. The truth about Jesus Christ consists of a unity of both of these elements.

Up to this point everything we have touched on in the account we are studying was definite. That is not true, however, of the remaining circumstances of the story.

The place where Jesus celebrated the Passover, especially, is not certainly known. Yes, if we go to Jerusalem, the dwellers there will direct us to a place, where, as they believe, the supper was served. They call it the coenactdum, a place where the so-called “en Nebi Daud” is at present located. This consecrated piece of ground is situated on the southern side of the hill which lies just west of the city and which is called “Zion.”[2]

[2] According to P. G. Groenen: Het Lijden en Sterven van Onzen Heere Jesus Christus, 2nd edition, Utrecht, J. R. Van Rossum, 1919, p. 23. However, he himself raises some objections. Cf. Zahn (TH) in commentaries and brochure.

Naturally, we are rather suspicious of its authenticity as the people of Jerusalem direct us to this place. And it makes very little difference. What is more serious is that we cannot even reconstruct the plain data of the biblical narrative with certainty. The guesses may come and go—no one will ever indicate with complete certainty the exact house in which the Passover was celebrated.

There is, however, one supposition which is a very plausible one. An old tradition, which in recent years has been regarded as authentic by many respectable scholars, for very strong reasons, tells us that the house in which the Saviour celebrated was that of Mary, the mother of John Mark. He, in case the father were dead, would then be the “goodman” referred to in the text.

We cannot name all of the reasons at this point which make it very likely that this was the house. A few will suffice to illustrate. It is obvious from the biblical narrative that the man who was asked to reserve his room was one of the circle of faithful friends. Mark was indeed one of these. Later he appears in the first Christian church, and we note that as time goes on he gradually comes to the fore. If his mother actually did so at this time, it is not the first occasion on which she lent her house to the disciples. From Acts 12 we learn that Mary had a commodious house, containing a large reception room which was always open to the Christians which gathered in Jerusalem. Besides, Mark was an intimate friend of Peter, and Peter was one of the two whom Jesus sent out to reserve the room. Moreover, it is significant that Mark, who later wrote the account of the Gospel which now goes by his name, hardly touches upon these particulars; it naturally occurs to us to ascribe this fact to a modest reticence in matters affecting his own house. The man who carried the pitcher of water might, therefore, very well have been John Mark, or, as some conjecture, a servant of the house, one who knew about Jesus, and who understood at once the circumstances of His need.

We must confess that this identification of the place of the last Passover with Mary’s house strongly appeals to us, especially because it makes possible such pleasant and significant perspectives. If it is true that the Mediator, the Head of His church, celebrated the passover in Mary’s house, then it is pleasant to think that this holy ground was preserved as the property of the church for many years. Such a construction of the facts will explain, too, why Mary does not sell her beautiful home, when, after Pentecost, the first members of the little Christian church sold all of their goods and brought the receipts to the apostles for the benefit of the persecuted believers. The place, then, was too filled with sacred memories to sell. It was a delight to the little congregation to meet in the place where their glorified Head had eaten the Passover for the last time and the Holy Supper the first time. If we accept, in addition, that the house of Mary is referred to in Acts 4 as well as in Acts 12. the associations become more significant still. Then the place where Christ ate the last Passover, and from which He sent the command to eat and drink out over the whole world is the very same which was shaken by a miraculous influence that day after the prayer of the congregation (Act_4:31). Then God Himself by that force pointed to it as a place of holiness, as the connecting link between the remnant of the Old Covenant which killed the Passover lamb there, and the communion of the New Testament, which introduced the communal feasts and broke the bread and . . .

So we might conjecture, so dream on and on.

We know, for instance, that the man later known as Barnabas, but at the time still called Joses, was a nephew of John Mark. He was a Levite. He was born in Cyprus, but had returned from that city, to which his parents had immigrated. It is easy to imagine that he was often a welcome guest at the home of his Aunt Mary, if not, indeed, a regular boarder there. If this datum as well as all the other data should be true to fact, we can more easily understand his conversion to the group of disciples than we otherwise can. For, in that case, he must have seen Jesus and His disciples go in and out of his aunt’s house periodically. He may, in fact, have been sitting downstairs as these were celebrating the Passover and instituting the Lord’s Supper overhead.

If we go one step farther then, and, as some do, accept the opinion that John Mark as well as Joses Barnabas was a Levite, the vista becomes even more attractive. It would be a significant thought if we could suppose that a son of Levi, the ancient tribe of the priests, had helped to set the table for the last Passover which by the favor of God was celebrated under the law. For many successive generations Levi had seen his sons standing in tabernacle and in temple, slaying the Passover lamb and officiating at the Passover ritual. Now Christ eats the last lamb of the Passover and afterwards distributes His own body as the true lamb of the Passover. If John Mark, assisted by Joses Barnabas, prepared the table to this end, then Levi fulfilled his priestly office by his service to Jesus. Then Levi bowed before the better Priest, not of the house of Aaron, that is, of Levi, but Priest after the order of Melchisedek. Then Levi, who was allowed to take a tenth from the people, would himself by this Levitical service at this turning point of history, have given the tithe, toll of love and respect, to Jesus. Then the place where the Lord’s Supper was served would be a place of pure mysteries, where fingers of love had embroidered this proverb on the cloth: “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. The “eater” is Levi who exacts a tenth from the people. Now he himself gives his house and a tenth of the income. He gives everything; he gives himself to the better Priest, who will forever dismiss him from his service by making the sacrifice superfluous. Yes, if these things are true, Levi has risen up in judgment against Levi. Once he was poor, working with His God between the curtains of the tabernacle. Then he received the beautiful temple. He is still in it, for all of his sons are there, trying to keep the Christ out of it. But while Levi lives on in the priests and keeps possession of the temple, God again takes up residence between the curtains. Indeed, between the curtains Mary has made, Levi, represented not by the priests, but by John Mark who brings his offer, is active in the company of Joses Barnabas, son of consolation. For, is it not consoling to Jesus, when compelled to remain behind the curtains, to know that God and Levi are there with Him?

But we may not, of course, go a step farther than is allowed us, even though the perspectives such considerations permit are attractive. A person must take thought to check himself for truth’s sake, lest he succumb to recklessness and present as actual fact what at best he could but wish were true. It has pleased the Holy Spirit to conceal the name and genealogy of the master or mistress of the house in which the Passover was kept. We may never remove a veil which has been thrown around the facts by the Holy Spirit. We may not make a novel of the Gospel, irrespective of how edifying the piece of fiction may intend to be. Hence, even though we know many historical facts which make the construction just presented seem very plausible, we, too, will bow before the Auctor priniarius of the Holy Scriptures, refuse to push uncertain details into the foreground, and humbly limit ourselves to what God has definitely given us. Obviously it is the will of God that the particulars which Christian memory would fondly recall should recede into the dark background, so that the whole attention might be given the matter of first importance.

That important matter is this. Christ, the Bearer and the Fulfiller of the law, celebrates the Passover in accordance with the demands of the law. There, between the curtains, where God enters into captivity, He fulfills the law (and that not outside of it, understand) and fulfills it by and for the Gospel. This is the central, the primary, significance of the whole matter: Christ celebrates the Passover because it is meet for Him to fulfill all righteousness. Because He wants to institute the Holy Supper, the symbol of the New Testament, He must follow the way of the Old Testament obediently to the very end. The birth-room of the Holy Supper must be kept immaculately pure.

Two lines meet in the guest chamber where Jesus is seated: that of the Old and that of the New Testament. Now the switch is thrown over. Fleshly Israel will no longer go up to celebrate the Passover according to the old law. Instead, spiritual Israel will rise from the table presently, will go out to celebrate a better Passover of fulfillment, the Holy Supper.

Throughout it all the Saviour’s whole soul and all of His senses testify to the absolute sanctity of the holiness which binds Him with the strictest severity. He may not and He does not want to give us the New Testament until the Old is legally fulfilled. Precisely where the switch is laid, the rails must be most true. Nothing can be out of line there, or the place becomes one of disaster. Nothing is wrong. Christ obeys the law perfectly. He prepares the Passover according to all of the rules the law prescribes for Him. Neither an ultra-fastidious Jew nor an eager angel can detect the slightest departure from the law in Him. The Gospel of the New Testament enters the hour of its birth; but the law of the Old Covenant prepares the chamber.

Had Jesus not celebrated the Passover our Holy Supper would have been an act of revolution. But since He did celebrate it, and did so according to the law, our Holy Supper is His gift of abundant fulfillment. How He “desired to eat this Passover with His disciples!” There is work for Him to do, and where His work awaits Him, there His soul “longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord.” The Mediator in Him longs, yearns, to fulfill His office. He enters the room of the Passover firmly committing Himself to an active and a passive obedience.

Firmly committing Himself to a passive obedience: As He sees the table on which the Lamb is prepared, He sees in it the compendium of all of His suffering. That lamb is the sign and the seal of the love of God, who once permitted the vindictive angel of judgment to pass over every door on whose lintel the sacrificial blood was sprinkled; death should enter the homes of Egypt alone. To all the children of Israel that lamb testified that if they believed they should escape the destroyer. Today the Great Son of Abraham enters the room, full of faith and burning with zeal, but the eternal doom will be His alone to bear. All the angels of perdition will gnaw at His flesh. As Jesus sees the lamb, it shocks His soul. He is the only One who believed without once doubting. But Him the destroyer will not pass over. He has no blood to show which is acceptable to God. What, pray, can Jesus do with the blood of this slain lamb? It condemns Him to the face. All the doors of God’s universe would recede if He should try to put its blood on their lintels for His own sake. He, the perfect, sinless Son of Israel is slain as the great Egyptian. He must die. The dead Passover lamb will weep over Him as over the first-born and only-begotten who could not be purified by the blood of an animal. His own blood must open the way to God. Never was a lamb so small, so poor, as this one. Never did man suffer so while eating it.

Again His active obedience complements the other. See, with His own hands He cleans a space on the table for the slain lamb. He takes His disciples with Him, and, although eating the Passover will hurt Him grievously, He sits down in their midst, takes up the meat of the lamb, blesses it, raises His eyes to God, praises Him by means of all the forms for prayer prescribed by the law, and does that in such a way that every sentence and each separate word receives the sincere account of His consecrated soul. The flesh of the Passover Lamb burned in His mouth as He ate it. He bore the law of the Lord in His bowels. He took and ate. He ate the food which in the most meaningful sense of the phrase was sweet to the mouth and bitter to the belly. The sign and seal of Israel’s cleansing mocked Him as One for whom there is no compassion. He bore all things because He exceedingly loved His own.

We have heard it said of old time that the lamb of the Pass- over had to be perfect, unblemished, young, and wholesome. Such is Christ Jesus as He goes to be slain. He satisfies the law perfectly, pays its penalty to the last farthing. Our Passover of the New Testament is perfect: there is no sin in Him. He is undefiled, for He keeps the law. He is young and strong as He leans over the slain lamb and absorbs every bit of its mortality into Himself.

We must step up now, put our fingers in His blood, and sprinkle it, not over the doors of our houses, but over those of our hearts. Then we must present ourselves, not to the Priest, for He has seen us already, but to the God of the Priest, to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Whoever understands this all-inclusive moment of salvation will have no reason to regret the vagueness of the Gospel account of it. For His soul will be illuminated as never before. On this occasion the mysteries of the altar, be it in Levi’s house or elsewhere, but surely according to the order of Melchisedek, were metamorphosed into the mysteries of the communion table.

The altar is the Old, the table is the New Testament. Both exist by reason of His blood.

Ask no more questions now: whose blood, which Passover? That would be to profane this glory.

The table is spread. My Jesus prays.