Scripture Reference: Luke 22:7-23
Suggested Emphasis: God has always taken care of his people (Old Testament, New Testament, and today).
Just as Scripture commanded, Jesus ate the Passover meal. This meal was usually celebrated with family and Jesus ate it with those who were closest to him – his disciples. During this meal the Jews were to remember how God had saved them from Egypt.
The Passover feast was an extremely important yearly event for the Jews. The Jews still celebrate it today. This last Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples celebrated together (the Last Supper) set off the chain of events leading to the crucifixion. Use this lesson to explain the Passover Meal and why they were celebrating it. Introduce the fact that Judas would betray Jesus. Next week continue talking about the meal but then spend time discussing how Jesus gave new meaning to the bread and wine. The new meaning involves remembering his body and blood and is the Lord’s Supper that we celebrate each week.
(Leviticus 23:4-8) The Passover lamb was sacrificed at a specific time on the fourteenth day of the first month on the Jewish calendar. (This was the day of the first Passover). In this case it was on Thursday of Passion Week.
The first Passover was celebrated hundreds and hundreds of years earlier on the last night that the Jews were captive in Egypt (Exodus 12) . They Jews that followed God’s instructions and placed lamb’s blood on their doorposts were able to celebrate the meal safely inside their homes while the Angel of Death passed over them. Jews continued to celebrate the Passover as a reminder of God’s salvation. They even celebrate it today.
Usually families ate the meal together. In this case Jesus celebrated it with his disciples. It seems that Jesus made plans ahead of time for the place where the meal was to be eaten. He had not told them where that would be. Judas had already been plotting to betray Jesus (Luke 22:1-6) so perhaps this is why Jesus did not disclose the location. Judas could have reported the place if he had known where it was.
Jesus sent Peter and John on ahead to prepare the meal. They were told to look for the man carrying a water jar (Luke 22:10). This would have been unusual because women usually carried the water. Peter and John would have had to gather the following items for the meal:
Unleavened bread: Flat bread made without yeast. Originally this was eaten in the Passover because the Jews left Egypt so quickly that the bread did not have time to rise. The unleavened bread was to be eaten at specific times during the meal.
Lamb: Killed at sundown and roasted. The blood of the lamb was to be given to the priest to pour on the altar. They were to eat the whole lamb during the meal.
Bitter herbs: These were eaten to remind the Jews of the bitter times in Egypt.
Wine: Again, this was to be drunk at four specific times in the meal.
(Luke 22:14) Originally the Passover meal was eaten standing (Exodus 12:11) but in Jesus’ time it was customary to eat it while reclining. Although the famous De Vince painting depicts Jesus and the Apostles sitting at a table, they actually would have been on the floor at a low table. They would probably have reclined on a cushion elbow and put their feet behind the person beside them.
Although the gospel accounts do not record the events in exactly the same order, it seems that they ate the Passover meal and then Jesus revealed to Judas that he knew he would betray him. Perhaps Judas left before Jesus began explaining the new meaning of the bread and wine.
(Matthew 26:23-25) It was customary to take a piece of bread (or a piece of meat wrapped in bread) and dip it into bowl of sauce (made of stewed fruit) on the table. Perhaps Judas was in the process of dipping the bread when Jesus said that someone who was dipping bread with him would betray him. Eating with someone in this culture was reaffirming friendship. This made Judas’ betrayal even more awful.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Before class blue-tac a long strip of paper above the door. Have red tempera paint and a brush ready. “Children, I am going to test your bible knowledge. In the story today we are going to be reminded of something that happened in the Old Testament times. I am going to do something that will give you a hint of what Old Testament story it is. (Use the brush to paint the red paint on the paper above the door) Does anyone remember reading a story about painting the top of a door with something red?” Quickly relate the story of the Pharaoh of Egypt who kept the people of God as slaves. God wanted the Pharaoh to let the people go to their own land but he would not let them. God’s final warning was that all of the firstborn children and animals would die unless one special thing was done. They had to put lamb’s blood over the door and everyone would be safe. The people that believed God did this and their children and animals were safe. After this, the Pharaoh let the people of God go. “God wanted the people to always remember what he had done. Today we are going to learn about the special meal that the people of God ate to remember the time God saved them.”
To begin our story we are going to learn about something that happened long long ago. It was long before Jesus was born as a baby. We can read about it in the Old Testament book of Exodus. At that time God’s people lived in the country of Egypt. God’s people (the Jews) did not like living in Egypt. They had to be slaves and work all day long. They never even got paid any money for all their work.
God wanted His people to have their own country to live in. He told a man named Moses to help the people leave. When Moses tried to help the Jews leave, Pharaoh (the ruler of Egypt) would not let them go. God thought of a special way to make sure Pharaoh would let the people go.
He told all of the Jews to put the blood of a lamb on their doorframes. If they obeyed God in this special way then they would be safe and danger would “pass over” them. If anyone did not obey God then the oldest child in his or her family would die. Moses and the other Jews obeyed God. They put the blood on the doorframes and then stayed in their houses and ate a special Passover Meal.
Pharaoh and the Egyptians did not obey but Moses. They were very sad because all of their firstborn children died. The Pharaoh finally decided to let the Jews leave Egypt and go to their new country.
God saved His people. Has anyone ever saved your life? If they did, do you think you would remember it or do you think you would forget? God saved the Jews and he wanted them to always remember about it. He decided that a good way to remember would be to tell the Jews to eat a special Passover Meal every year. Then they would remember how he made the danger pass over them.
Hundreds and hundreds of years later the Jews still wanted to remember what God had done. Every year they ate the special meal to remember the Passover.
Jesus and his friends wanted to eat the special Passover Meal. Jesus told Peter and John to go into Jerusalem and get things ready for the meal. He did not tell them the place to go. He just told them to follow a man carrying a water jar. That man would take them to the house where they would have a special meal in an upstairs room.
Peter and John did exactly as Jesus said. They followed the man carrying the water jug and he led them to the house where they would have the Passover Meal.
When Jesus and his disciples arrived they ate the Passover Meal together. This was the way that they remembered what had happened long ago in Egypt. When they ate the meal they also remembered how God took care of his people.
Jesus and the apostles followed all of the special instructions that God had given for the celebration. They ate bitter herbs to help them remember the bad times that the Jews had had when they were slaves in Egypt. They ate roasted lamb and they remembered the lamb’s blood that was put on the doorposts in the Old Testament. They drank grape wine and ate unleavened bread.
Jesus and his friends liked the unleavened bread. They liked to dip it into a tasty sauce and eat it. During the Passover meal Jesus and his disciples were dipping the bread into the bowl of sauce. Jesus told them something while he was eating. He told them something very sad.
He said, “Someone here is not really my friend. He will do bad things that will make me get into trouble. One of the ones who is dipping the bread in the bowl with me will betray me.”
Judas knew that he was the one. Judas did not remember the good things that God had done. Some bad Jews had already given him money to make sure Jesus got in trouble and got arrested. Judas knew that Jesus had never done anything wrong but he said yes to the Jews because they offered to give him money.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- What was the first Passover Meal to celebrate? The fact that God saved his people from slavery in Egypt.
- Why are Old Testament stories important to us today? They teach important lessons.
- Where did Jesus and his disciples eat the Last Supper? An upper room of a house.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Gather the ingredients and let the children taste foods from the Passover meal. You can use horseradish for bitter herbs, grape juice for the wine, and pita bread for the unleavened bread. You can purchase very thinly sliced lamb at a butcher or grocery deli. Recline and eat your meal at a low table.
- Have one of the children look up and read Romans 15:4 and then let the class think of lessons they have learned from the Old Testament.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope”.
- List special foods that help us remember special occasions: birthday cake, chocolate eggs, Christmas pudding, hot cross buns, etc. Compare this to the Passover Meal.
- This story is part of a bigger story about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. A simple way to tell the story is to open plastic Easter Eggs one at a time. Each egg reveals something about the story. If you are telling the stories about the death, burial and resurrection over a few weeks why not try repeating this method every week. The children will really know the story after this! Click here to learn how to do it.
- Stories about the Death, Burial and Resurection of Jesus:
- Triumphal Entry
- The Last Supper
- A Night of Betrayal and Prayer
- The Trial of Jesus
- Jesus is Crucified
- Burial and the Resurrection
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets about the last supper (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets about Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet (Curriculum Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets about Jesus’ betrayal and denial foretold at the last supper (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page by Standard Publishing (Sermons4Kids)
- Teacher’s guide (dltk-bible.com)
- Writing response page (churchhousecollection.com)
- A good selection of both online and printable puzzles, activities and story words covering the Last Supper through to the crucifixion (gardenofpraise.com)
- An eacy to follow recipe for homemade communion bread from the Upland Church of Christ