I reflect on Jesus’ last supper and its meaning for discipleship in my February 13, 2011 sermon—the twelfth in my series on Luke’s Gospel.
The story of Jesus is not simply a case of bad things happening to a good person. It’s bad things happening to a good person because he’s a good person. Jesus’ life raises the issue of how it is that the “good news” leads directly to bad news. The other big question in relation to Jesus is whether the bad news he faces is something that he deals with so his followers won’t have to (kind of the substitutionary atonement motif), or if his facing bad news is a kind of model for Jesus’ disciples.
The account of the Jesus’ last supper with his friends makes a clear and strong point of emphasizing the modeling aspect. Luke, alone of the gospels, inserts the debate among the disciples about who would be “greatest” into the last supper conversation. Jesus’ exclaims: “Not so among you! The greatest must be servants.” Here he makes it clear he expects his followers to follow the same good news leading to bad news path that he follows—with the promise of God’s ultimate vindication.
Also, by placing the last supper in the context of the Passover celebration, Luke reiterates that the good news –> bad news –> vindication dynamic that was central in the exodus story links it with the story of Jesus.
The sermon may be found here: it’s called “When the ‘Good News’ is Bad News.” The other sermons in the series may be found here.