Symbolism of Last Supper: The Passover Meal, or Just a Dinner?

Communion Bread and Wine

Why I should be presented with an all-nighter about the Seder, I have no idea. It might have something to do with the idea that Jesus led the disciples in a dance after their meal that fateful night. Elaine Pagels discusses this in her book Beyond Belief.

“Whoever wrote the Round Dance of the Cross boldly revised John’s account of that night by adding a different episode — apparently meant to be kept secret. In the Round Dance, which is found in the Acts of John, a second-century collection of stories and traditions inspired by John’s gospel, John begins the story of Jesus’ final night where the gospel account leaves off, and says that Jesus invited his disciples to dance and sing with him:

Before he was arrested . . . he assembled us all, and said, “Before I am delivered to them, let us sing a hymn to the Father, and so go to meet what lies before us.” So he told us to form a circle, holding one another’s hands, and he himself stood in the middle and said, “Answer Amen to me.”

“Then, as the disciples circled him, dancing, Jesus began to chant a hymn in words that echo the Gospel of John:

“Glory to you, Father.” And we, circling around him, answered him, “Amen.”

“Glory to you, Logos; glory to you, Grace.” “Amen.”

“Glory to you, Spirit; glory to you, Holy One. . . .” “Amen.”

“We praise you, Father; we thank you, Light, in whom dwells no darkness.” “Amen.”

“I am a light to you who see me.” “Amen.”

“I am a mirror to you who know me.” “Amen.”

“I am a door to you who knock upon me.” “Amen.”

“I am a way to you, the traveler.” “Amen.”

“Although the phrase about the mirror could have come straight from the Gospel of Thomas, the primary source for the last two, as well as many of the others, is the Gospel of John.

“Whoever composed this hymn, then, clearly found in John’s gospel inspiration for the kind of teaching we more often associate with Thomas; for here Jesus invites his disciples to see themselves in him:

[W]hich I am about to suffer is your own. For you could by no means have understood what you suffer, unless I had been sent to you a word [logos] by the Father . . . if you knew how to suffer, you would be able not to suffer.”

“Thus, in the Round Dance of the Cross, Jesus says that he suffers in order to reveal the nature of human suffering, and to teach the paradox that the Buddha also taught: that those who becomes aware of suffering simultaneously find release from it. Yet he also tells them to join in the cosmic dance: ‘Whoever dances belongs to the whole.’ ‘Amen.’ ‘Whoever does not dance does not know what happens.’ ‘Amen.’ ” (Pages 123-5)

(Coincidentally, my daughter, Amy, posted a video on Instagram yesterday, suggesting that we need to dance on our mother, Earth, to be one with her.)

The Great Hallel

At the end of the Passover meal, Psalms are recited, ending with Psalm 136:

Psalm 136

King James Version

136 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:

20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:

21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:

22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

The call and answer effect of the recitation may have been the effect that the writer of the Acts of John was going for. That gave the Last Supper a passing semblance of a Passover meal. But as I have noted elsewhere, John’s gospel narrative (especially of the last days of Jesus before the crucifixion) was intended as a series of liturgical services for Jewish believers, so the obvious conclusion is that the gospels were trying to tie in the Passover Lamb imagery to Jesus’ final instructions. (And there are plenty of points tying the two together, including the ‘breaking of bread and drinking of wine.’)

It reminds me of the early Church Fathers tying Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice. Rather than destroying the old myths and religious rites, the Roman Catholic Church absorbed them into their ‘new’ Christian religion.

I’d love to say that their Passover Week meal was, in fact, the Seder, but there is enough ‘proof‘ to disprove that theory. But I wouldn’t have gone looking for the truth if I hadn’t had that dream last night.

So, I have to say, in the end, that the Last Supper was just that, a last supper.

About cdsmiller17

I am an Astrologer who also writes about world events. My first eBook "At This Point in Time" is available through most on-line book stores. I have now serialized my second book "The Star of Bethlehem" here. And I am experimenting with birth and death charts. If you wish to contact me, or request a birth chart, send an email to cdsmiller17@gmail.com
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