Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
Did you know that the preparation for the Last Supper began with a miracle? It’s subtle, and most readers of the account will not see it—but when you understand the culture and the setting of the time, it’s obvious and it’s amazing. This week’s podcast explores the setting and doctrine of the Last Supper.
Thanks too for all the kind comments from our listeners. Here’s a small sample:
“I listen to these every week. They are a wonderful part of my weekly study.”
“Scot and Maurine, I just want you to know that my family and I listen to this podcast every Sunday afternoon. I let my five sons east M&Ms while we listen (for Meridian Magazine.) I really enjoy the insights you share with us, and I’ve learned so much. This particular podcast is one of my favorites. Thanks for taking the time to do this every week.”
Kristin Johnson Hawkins
“I look forward every single week.”
Dorothy Smith Pitts
“This one is especially tender, alarming and relevant.”
You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.
Maurine and Scot Proctor have spent extensive time in the Holy Land, researching the life of Christ. They have taught the New Testament in the Institute program for many years and have written books and numerous articles on the life of the Savior.
Join our study group and let’s delve into the scriptures in a way that is inspiring, expanding and joyful.
Welcome to this week’s Meridian Magazine Come Follow Me Podcast. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and we are so happy to be with you again! We love studying the scriptures with you and hope that you are sharing this experience with your extended family and friends. Tell them they can go to any of their favorite Podcast platforms and search for Meridian Magazine Come Follow Me—and they can join us.
This is Episode 22 and we’re going to look at some of the most sublime and comforting teachings of the Savior in John Chapters 13-17—all given during the Last Supper.
We so appreciate the generosity of Paul Cardall sharing his music to open and close this podcast.
As we were preparing this podcast we thought of Elder Richard G. Scott and his great love for the scriptures. He taught:
“Throughout the ages, Father in Heaven has inspired select men and women to find, through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, solutions to life’s most perplexing problems. He has inspired those authorized servants to record those solutions as a type of handbook for those of His children who have faith in His plan of happiness and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We have ready access to this guidance through the treasure we call the standard works…
“Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ…
“Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.” (Richard G. Scott, The Power of Scripture, October 2011)
I thought specifically about this, Maurine, because I have some go-to scriptures that I access if I am in need of a lift or I want to increase the Spirit in a particular day. I love to read what we call the Psalm of Nephi in 2nd Nephi 4: 15-35. I love to read Alma 36. I love to read Isaiah 53. I love Abraham Chapters 1 and 2. I love to read Doctrine and Covenants Section 6 and section 93. I once read, studied and pondered Section 93 each and every day for an entire year (in addition to my regular scripture studies). It truly blessed my life in major ways.
I feel the same way about this week’s readings—These chapters of John—Chapters 13 through 17 are sublime and some of the most powerful teachings from the four gospels—I turn to them often for strength and to increase the Spirit in my life.
We’re so grateful John the Beloved recorded so many of the teachings of the Lord that night of the Last Supper!
Now, let’s get to that miracle we referred to in the very first sentence of the Podcast. Turn to Mark chapter 14, at the end of verse 12:
…his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the apassover?
13 And he sendeth forth two of his adisciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.
[Did you catch the miracle?] The Lord is sending His disciples over into the city of Jerusalem and what? They will find a man bearing a pitcher of water—in that culture and that time—men never carried the water! They followed that man, as the Lord directed them to do, and he showed them a large upper room furnished and prepared—just as the Lord had promised. Surely the faith of the disciples was strengthened with this coming to pass just as Jesus had told them.
Now the Passover Meal would have started just after Sunset. A Passover meal can last for many hours—usually not less than three and sometimes can go on for five or six hours. Such may have been the case this particular night. Let’s explore this gathering and the Savior’s teachings.
First of all, the famous and classic Leonardo da Vinci depiction of the Last Supper (and what you probably have envisioned because of that) is completely incorrect. The table setting is in a U-shape and sits just about 18 inches above the ground. The Lord and His apostles would have been lying down on their left sides as they partook of the meal and interacted. This would allow their right hand to be free. So, again, the physical position of the Lord and His apostles helps us understand the story more clearly.
Let’s turn to John Chapter 13 and start gleaning some of the treasures of this evening with the Lord.
If this is going to be the last time the Savior is with His apostles in this life, what will be the lessons that He wants to make clear to them?
“Their mood was somber, their hearts burdened as Jesus and His friends took the several hours to eat the Passover meal and perform its accompanying rituals. “Why is this night different from all others? Why do we eat only unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and roasted lamb?” they would have asked and answered. Whatever the traditional answers, for them this night was different because the Lord would soon leave them, and they bore a love for Him that made the thought unbearable. In just hours, they would look for Him and find Him not. He would say, “Whither I go, ye cannot come.” Then, “supper being ended,” Jesus arose, “laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself,”poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.
“The feet of those in Palestine, clad only in sandals as they trod the filthy streets strewn with dirt and dung, were distasteful by day’s end. Washing another’s feet was the lowest of jobs, fit only for the utterly servile, fit not just for a servant but for a slave.
“Thinking His Master too noble for such a task, Peter demurred, “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” to which Jesus answered, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Then the impulsive, exuberant Peter, fired with love for the Lord, said, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” As He poured the water over their feet, He wanted the memory borne deeply into conscience. “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” The greatest was not the one with the most acclaim or honor, doing work of power and distinction, but the quiet servant, meeting the unspoken need.” (Proctor and Proctor, Source of the Light, pp 152-153)
15 For I have given you an aexample, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, ahappy are ye if ye do them.
The Savior was giving them the most noble path to happiness—through service one to another.
Soon after this, the Lord revealed a shocking truth: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” (John 13: 21)
It seems like the natural man response at this point would be to point fingers and say, “I bet it’s Bartholomew. Or, what if it’s Andrew?” But these were not natural men—they were men learning to be true disciples of the Savior of the world.
19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?
What a response! That has always impressed me with this humble and honest reply to such a horrible prophecy.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his adisciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
[Now you can understand this more clearly—Jesus was lying on his left side and John the Beloved had his head comfortably positioned on the Lord’s chest, and was able to intimately and quietly ask the Lord the question of who.]
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a asop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
Judas held the bag—in other words, he was the treasurer of the Twelve—and the Lord said to him quietly, “That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27) Judas immediately got up and left the room and went out into the darkness. No one really suspected anything—they thought perhaps the Lord had given him an assignment to see to the needs of the poor or to get something more for the feast. (see John 13:29).
“Little children, yet a little while I am with you,” said Jesus in that upper room, and as His death approached, love was foremost on His mind. It was love that undergirded His life and His final sacrifice, love that never sought its own, love that didn’t waiver before those who were wretchedly unlovable. Now He asked of those who would follow Him, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13: 34, 35) This love would be a distinguishing mark of their discipleship.
“Nothing communicated love more clearly than the Lord’s institution of the sacrament: “As they were eating, Jesus took bread and brake it, and blessed it, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I gave a ransom for you. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. For this is in remembrance of my blood of the new testament, which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins.” The Passover had been a symbolic looking forward to the blood of the Lamb, which would be shed as a ransom for the sins of all those who would believe on His name. The sacrament was in remembrance of Him with a dual pledge that all those who partook would take upon themselves His glorious name and He would send His Spirit to be with them. They could not save themselves from sin and death, but, through His sinless life, He could. For this reason He had come. What inexpressible comfort for these disciples in this awful hour. (Source of the Light, p. 155)
We learn through the Joseph Smith Translation of additional promises the Savior gave them (and us) as we partake of the sacrament: 21 Behold, this is for you to do in remembrance of my body; for as oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you.” 24 And as oft as ye do this ordinance, ye will remember me in this hour that I was with you and drank with you of this cup, even the last time in my ministry. (JST Mark 14: 21, 24)
I love those promises so much. I feel like He was talking directly to us who partake of the holy sacrament each week in our day and time.
Again, don’t disconnect yourself from the history and all that is going on this night. Judas was busy at work conspiring with the Sanhedrin to deliver Jesus to them. Pontius Pilate had come over from Caesarea on the coast and was staying in the Antonia Fortress. Various rulers and high priests were gearing up to find accusation against Jesus so they could kill Him. It was night. Thousands of families were also gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover feast and festivities.
With all this danger lurking—and Judas having accepted the offer to deliver Jesus for 30 pieces of silver—the Shekel of Tyre—the price of a slave—Jesus now reaches out to comfort His little flock.
1 Let not your heart be atroubled…
Have you ever thought of that as a commandment? Or just some good counsel?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland felt strongly when he taught: “I submit to you that may be one of the Savior’s commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lord’s merciful heart.” (Holland, Jeffrey R., “Come Unto Me,” BYU Devotional, March 2, 1997)
2 In my Father’s ahouse are many bmansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will acome again, and receive you unto myself; that bwhere cI am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the away, the btruth, and the life: no man ccometh unto the Father, but by me.
President Thomas S. Monson taught: “All of us can walk the path He walked when, with His words ringing in our ears, His Spirit filling our hearts, and His teachings guiding our lives, we choose to follow Him as we journey through mortality. His example lights the way.” (Thomas S. Monson, Ponder the Path of They Feet, October 2014)
Jesus gives us such confidence in assuring us that He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE and that it is only by Him that we can come back to the Father. Where else shall we turn?
And the Savior assures us that as we come to know Him, we come to know the Father:
7 If ye had aknown me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the aFather; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Elder Holland taught: “Of the many magnificent purposes served in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, one great aspect of that mission often goes uncelebrated. His followers did not understand it fully at the time, and many in modern Christianity do not grasp it now, but the Savior Himself spoke of it repeatedly and emphatically. It is the grand truth that in all that Jesus came to say and do, including and especially in His atoning suffering and sacrifice, He was showing us who and what God our Eternal Father is like, how completely devoted He is to His children in every age and nation. In word and in deed Jesus was trying to reveal and make personal to us the true nature of His Father, our Father in Heaven.”
Elder Holland continued: “I make my own heartfelt declaration of God our Eternal Father this morning because some in the contemporary world suffer from a distressing misconception of Him. Among these there is a tendency to feel distant from the Father, even estranged from Him, if they believe in Him at all. And if they do believe, many moderns say they might feel comfortable in the arms of Jesus, but they are uneasy contemplating the stern encounter of God. Through a misreading (and surely, in some cases, a mistranslation) of the Bible, these see God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son as operating very differently, this in spite of the fact that in both the Old Testament and the New, the Son of God is one and the same, acting as He always does under the direction of the Father, who is Himself the same “yesterday, today, and forever.”
“Jesus did not come to improve God’s view of man nearly so much as He came to improve man’s view of God and to plead with them to love their Heavenly Father as He has always and will always love them. The plan of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, yes, even the anger and the judgment of God they had occasion to understand. But the love of God, the profound depth of His devotion to His children, they still did not fully know—until Christ came.
“So feeding the hungry, healing the sick, rebuking hypocrisy, pleading for faith—this was Christ showing us the way of the Father, He who is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness.’ In His life and especially in His death, Christ was declaring, ‘This is God’s compassion I am showing you, as well as that of my own.’” End of quote. (Holland, Jeffrey R. “The Grandeur of God, October 2003)
As we come to understand and know the Savior we come to understand and know the Father. And, in fact, later on that very evening, Jesus said in the great Intercessory Prayer, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
Joseph Smith taught the true way to exercise faith:
“2. Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
3. First, the idea that he actually exists.
4. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
5. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Lectures on Faith, 3:2-5)
Again, Elder Holland taught us of one of the attributes of God
that perhaps we forget—and this one really helps me want to exercise faith in
“My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life.” (Holland, Jeffrey R., “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You,” April 2016)
I have taken that quote and used it as a footnote in my scriptures. I love that so much! It gives me such confidence to know that the Father loves us that way—and Jesus was showing us that on this Passover night.
Jesus gives us a simple couplet in John 14:15:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
That’s about as straightforward as it gets. We love Him. We keep His commandments.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
That word fear (yaw-ray’ in the Hebrew) might better be translated as “revere” “honor” “reverence” or “be in awe of.”
As the Savior is about to leave His apostles He says:
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
That truly is a scripture I draw upon so much. You know, we have these amazing and wonderful spiritual experiences in our lives. We have the experiences of personal revelation—we write down what we can of what we have heard or experienced. We feel the Spirit often in our homes and in our relationships. We so much want to remember everything we are taught from on high—and yet—we are mortal and tend to forget things faster than we want to. This promise from the Lord gives us confidence and assurance than when we need to draw upon something we have been taught from the heavens, we will be able to have access to it through the Holy Ghost.
That promise was renewed in this Dispensation in Section 100 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 5-8 (and this is a promise that I count on):
5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; aspeak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be bconfounded before men;
6 For it shall be agiven you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
7 But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye adeclare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
8 And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the aHoly Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.
the Lord will NOT leave us comfortless!
That is a promise! That promise
of the Holy Ghost in our lives is one of the greatest promises He has ever
Our desire and goal, of course is to make Him our constant companion. How do we do that? There are many ways, but great guidance is given in the 121st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
This promise is worth living for.
Now, in chapter 15 of John, Jesus teaches us our absolute dependence on Him.
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
We love that last verse and, in fact, made that one of our core scriptures that we memorized years ago:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
We truly cannot do anything without Him. Oh, it seems like we can—that we are self-made men and women and we can do and accomplish things completely on our own—but such is not the case.
It reminds us of the teachings of righteous King Benjamin:
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever…
We are dependent on the Lord. We need Him. And as we exercise our faith and trust in Him, that bond and relationship with Him becomes stronger and stronger.
We also love the tender thing the Savior says to the Apostles in John 16: 12 and 13:
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
This reminds me of the Prophet Joseph Smith who had been taught so much from on high that sometimes he would have to insert something like these 16 words into the record: “…and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”
Clearly the Lord was going to give the Apostles much more instruction after His death and resurrection—even as He does today. But He could discern that they could only handle so much before they were given the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
One of the most uplifting teachings of this night is the last verse of Chapter 16:
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The only way we can overcome the world is through our following and reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot do it on our merits. We cannot do it through our strengths and talents. We cannot do it by our intelligence, nor our perseverance and diligence. We can only do it through the Lord Jesus Christ.
We learn from Nephi:
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. (2 Nephi 31:19)
8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah… (2 Nephi 2:8)
We finally come to the great Intercessory Prayer the Savior offered which is found in John Chapter 17.
This is one of the greatest recorded prayers in history and would only possibly be exceeded by the prayers the Savior offered among the Nephites that “tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed…neither can they be uttered by man.” (See 3 Nephi 19: 31-34)
I love this prayer because I can still feel its efficacy today. Here the Savior prays for those who are with Him in the room and served with Him in His mortal ministry, but then He also prays for us—those who will believe on their words.
But first we read the most well-known of the verses of Chapter 17—that is—verse 3:
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
We all know this verse. But do we know them—God and Jesus Christ?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “It is one thing to know about God and another to know him. We know about him when we learn that he is a personal being in whose image man is created; when we learn that the Son is in the express image of his Father’s person; when we learn that both the Father and the Son possess certain specified attributes and powers. But we know them, in the sense of gaining eternal life, when we enjoy and experience the same things they do. To know God is to think what he thinks, to feel what he feels, to have the power he possesses, to comprehend the truths he understands, and to do what he does. Those who know God become like him, and have his kind of life, which is eternal life.” (McConkie, Bruce R., Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol 1, p. 761).
We come to know Him as we become more like Him—to do as He does—to strive to think as He thinks and be as He is.
Then we read His prayer for us:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Again, I can feel that prayer having its affect on me in this time in my life some nearly 2,000 years after it was given. And the Lord renewed this counsel in our Dispensation:
“I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27)
Of course we should strive for this oneness in our personal relationship with the Father and with the Savior, but also in our relationships here in earth, with our spouse, our children, with those we serve in the Church, and with our extended family.
Through this oneness the Savior showed us and taught, we truly will be blessed.
Thanks for listening. We’ve enjoyed being with you and picturing you in your various homes, cars, offices and outdoor listening throughout the world.
Please share this with your friends and family—send them to latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast.
Next week’s lesson is: “Not as I Will, but as Thou Wilt” and includes teachings from Matthew Chapter 26; Mark Chapter 14; Luke Chapter 22 and John Chapter 18.