Jesus celebrates the Passover feast (Pascha, Pesach) with His disciples. On Passover Israel commemorated how the Lord delivered the people from the Egyptian bondage.
After this deliverance, the Lord instituted the yearly Passover feast.
The Passover lamb that was sacrificed on the feast, was a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, until Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.
1 Corinthians 5 verse 7.
During the Passover meal Jesus institutes the Holy Supper; the meal of the New Covenant. Jeremiah 31. Jesus takes bread, gives thanks to His Father, breaks it it and gives it to them, saying: "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me".
1 Corinthians 11 verse 24.
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying: "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood".
Furthermore He prepares His disciples for His going to the Father and His coming back to them. John 14 verse 1 to 4.
He also assigns the Kingdom to them.
Luke 22 verse 29 and 30.
These acts and teachings of Jesus remind us of a traditional Jewish marriage, as the disciples knew it. (Shidduch) This was an agreement between two families. Father and son went to visit the father of the bride-to-be. After negotiations an agreement was made. Then the young woman would come in. If she agreed to the marriage, she took bread and offered it to her future husband. Eating both of the bread and drinking wine engaged them to each other.
After that the future bridegroom left to prepare a home for them. When the house was completed he would come back for his bride.
The bride then had to be ready for marriage and the wedding. If she was not, the bridegroom had the right to dissolve the agreement.
In this comparison the Holy Supper can be seen as the engagement to marry.
When the heavenly Bridegroom returns from the preparation of a place for His bride - the church - she will be united with Him in the heavenly wedding feast.
On the painting the tables are placed in a ‘triclinium’. The tables formed three sides of a quadrilateral.
This was a Roman custom that was adopted by Jews in Jesus’ time. It is plausible that the table of the Passover meal was set up like that.
In this tradition the guests’ place at the table indicated the relation to the host, and to each other. (Remember the disciples’ quarrel about who was the greatest.)
The guests were lying on big cushions, leaning on their left arms. According to tradition the host’s place was the second at the one end of the table, as you can see on the painting. On his right a ‘most trusted person’, on his left a ‘guest of honour’.
On the painting these are John and Judas Iscariot. According to Luke’s gospel Judas was still in the room.
John lies on the right side. We know that from the gospel.
John 13 verse 23.
Judas must have been within arm's reach of Jesus.
John 13 verse 26.
If Jesus did give Judas this place, knowing about his betrayal, this is very significant.
Presumably Peter was lying at the far end of the table, opposite to John. That was the place of the person whose task it was to wash the feet of the guests prior to the meal. This person also had to supplement food and drink during the meal, having easy access to the open side of the triclinium.
From this place Peter could easily make eye-contact with John, and motion him to ask Jesus who was the betrayer. John 13 verse 24.
If Peter had this place it must have been very confronting for him to see Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, because he should have done this.
Celebrating the sacrament
The celebration of the Holy Supper will continue in the church ‘until He comes.'
It is a ‘sacrament’, a sign in which the truth of the Gospel is confirmed and sealed if accepted in faith.
1 Corinthians 10 and 11 indicate which aspects are important regarding this celebration:
Self-examination: let a person examine himself, chapter 11 verse 28.
Commemoration: do this in remembrance of Me, chapter 11 verse 24.
Proclamation: you proclaim the Lord’s death, chapter 11 verse 26.
Blessing: the cup of blessing that we bless, chapter 10 verse 16.
Communion: participation in the blood of Christ, chapter 10 verse 16.
Consecration: you cannot drink.., and.., chapter 10 verse 21.
Repetition: as often as you drink it, chapter 11 verse 26.
Anticipation: until He comes, chapter 11 verse 26.