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The Last Supper


The Last Supper

Background:
The Last Supper is the last meal between Jesus and his twelve apostles before Jesus' death. Leonardo da Vinci's depiction (see above) is commonly seen in culture and referenced frequently. Many Christians view the event as the "Institution of the Eucharist." During Holy Week, many Christians re-enact the last supper, usually on Thursday after good Wednesday and before good Friday, known as Maudy Thursday. In Christian churches, it is called "Communion." The cup Jesus is seen drinking from is today as the "Holy Grail".

The Story of The Last Supper:
The story is told in The New Testament in the Bible. Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20.

The day before the crucifixion of Jesus, on Passover, Jesus organized a final meal between him and his twelve apostles. Jesus told his apostles that one of them would betray him. Many apostles reacted differently (see below); when they inquired who would betray him, Jesus only responded that although he was to die, his betrayer's fate would be "Far better for him if he had never been born!". Jesus took the bread from the table and broke it into twelve pieces which he gave to each apostle, saying "This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Pouring wine, Jesus told them "This wine is the token of God's new covenant to save you--an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you." He then said, "I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom."

The Painting of the Last Supper (da Vinci):
Although Leonardo da Vinci's portrayal of The Last Supper is not the only one, it is likely the most well known. This painting depicts the event, specifically the reactions of his apostles. All of the apostles have a different reaction to Jesus' news. From left to right in the painting:
  • Bartholomew, James (the son of Alphaeus), and Andrew are all surprised.
  • Judas appears to be holding a bag (often thought to be payment for his future betrayal of Jesus), Peter appears outraged and John seems to be fainting.
  • Jesus.
  • Thomas is upset, James the Greater seems shocked, Philip is questioning Jesus' words.
  • Matthew and Jude Thaddeus are looking at Simon, who appears to be clarifying Jesus' prophecy.

Appearance in Literature:
The story of the Last Supper originally appears in the Bible in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20.

In John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Rose of Sharon saves a starving man by breast-feeding him and she alludes to The Last supper when Jesus tells the Apostles, "Take, drink; this is my blood."

The painting by Leonardo da Vinci is often parodied in shows like "The Simpsons" and "South Park".