Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Long Goodbye - The Farewell Address of Jesus

The Gospel of John is unique in a number of ways, but one important way it differs from the Synoptic Gospels is the narration of Jesus' last supper.  Read the account of the last supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; each account covers only a few short verses.  In John, on the other hand, the narrative covers five chapters, including a lengthy farewell address that Jesus delivers to his disciples ("the long goodbye").  Among the distinctive features of this material (John 13-17), Jesus:
  • washes the feet of the disciples
  • teaches about the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit)
  • gives a new commandment (love one another)
  • prays at length for his disciples
And significantly missing from the text is any mention of the word's of institution of the Lord's Supper, the focal point of the synoptic narratives of the supper.

Take some time and reread these significant chapters.  What did John's account mean for those Christians who first heard/read it?  How should contemporary believers make use of his insights?  What needs to be translated into a 21st century perspective?

And lastly what does John's remembrance of the Jesus tradition tells us about how we continue to celebrate the Lord's Supper?

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