Hosting the Last Supper (Part 2)
As we enter both Easter and Passover, we asked our bloggers to give their thoughts on what it would have been like to host the Last Supper. Most people know the story but never consider who the hosts were or what it must have been like to be asked to host the momentous occasion. Here is part 2 as our bloggers present their unique perspectives on this idea:
I have had as many Easters as I could remember, but this year reading the story of the last supper, I saw it from a different perspective. We are informed that Jesus and the 12 disciples were present during the Last Supper, but it doesn’t say much about others. In Eastern cultures, it was women who usually cooked and prepared meals, so I started looking into that a bit deeper.
As I read the story again and again, I realized that when Jesus told the disciples that they were to have supper, they asked him where they should hold the meal. He told them to go to the entrance of the city and follow a man who was holding a jar of water to his house. (Luke 22:10-12)
Then it struck me, how would they have distinguished him from others? That shouldn’t be too hard because a man holding a jar of water was not a usual task. Wasn’t that a woman's job to fetch water? The angel appeared to Mary on her way to the well to get water. And Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well when she was drawing water. So, finding a man carrying a jar of water was unconventional enough that the disciples were able to easily recognize the man and follow him to the house.
One explanation was that, according to Jewish custom, on the 13th of Nissan, before the stars appeared in the heavens, the Master himself had to go to the public fountain to draw the water with which the unleavened bread for the Passover Feast was kneaded. That would mean there would be many men carrying jars of water, no? Or, according to another explanation, the man was not the master but either a friend or a disciple of the Lord. The owner is later distinguished as “goodman of the house” and there is more speculation as to who he was.
This is interesting information but it still doesn’t answer my initial question of who or where were the women while Jesus and the disciples had the last supper? Ok, so in order to help find the answer, I looked into “who cooked the last supper?” and apparently it is a name of a famous feminist book not relevant to the title. So I searched a bit more, and then I was exposed to theological debates about whether they ate a Passover meal or not. If you want to know, theologians do not agree that the disciples and Jesus had a Passover meal because of the timing. So, some would say they had a seder, and others would say they didn’t.
Still no answer about women in the last supper. This leaves me to assume that, similar to other stories, there were probably women present during the Last Supper, and many of them were probably engaged in preparing the food, while others were female disciples.
So, if I were asked to host the last supper, I would have probably been part of the latter group. I would have helped set up the dining table and helped bring in the plates, but in the end, I would have probably been too consumed with listening and engaging with Jesus and the disciples rather than worry about food. This probably means that I would have ended up doing the dishes. Gladly.
If I were asked to host the last supper in the last minute manner that Scripture gives, I think I would panic first! I don’t think hosting is one of my gifts and cooking for thirteen people and those accompanying them would be a daunting task, even if it didn’t include Jesus!
I would have to quickly drum up the help of many others to make it work. I would also probably be very disappointed if I found myself in the kitchen the whole evening, missing the opportunity of a lifetime to actually hear Jesus in person! I would be happy to serve but also want to learn.
And what would I do with my kids? One of them is a wild child and would probably end up toppling the whole table if present, so I would try to arrange a babysitter. This could be difficult at the last minute. Or would Jesus want him there? Were kids present at the Last Supper? Were women present?
The last question is especially interesting to me, as a woman. Women must have been there, cooking, preparing and cleaning. I hope they were present to also glean some final words of wisdom from Jesus. I imagine that Jesus welcomed them, encouraging them to be taught and grow into everything they were meant to be. The authors of the gospels were men and they were products of their time, not even mentioning women’s participation for the most part. But Jesus seemed to break the mold, reaching out to stigmatized women in several situations.
So, I would imagine that there were women present, not just serving and cooking, but learning from his example; learning that they did not have to fall victim to the constraints society placed on them but that they could be so much more. Because, time and time again, Jesus never went according to societal conventions!