Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Last Supper: Lord or Rabbi?

Rudolph Bostic, The Last Supper

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26: 20-26 NIV
The contemporary artist Rudolph Bostic's paints the Last Supper by taking an intimate look at the gathering of Jesus's disciples. Christ occupies the central frame as he stands in front of an arched window that cleverly suggests a halo and addresses his twelve followers as he raises a wine flask saying, “This is my blood.” 
        Bostic divides his three-part painting, or “triptych,” with columns of vines. He uses the foreground to display several large wine jars that recall Jesus’s first miracle at Cana when he turned the water into wine at a wedding. Judas, in the bottom right panel, is separated from the other disciples as he clutches a wine jug.
The Gospels tell a complexity and paradox of mood in this last night of Jesus's life. Similarly, Bostic employs vibrant colors to create a sense of celebration, yet the dark outlines of the forms casts a gloom over the event, hinting to what is to come in the next few days--that is, the Crucifixion of the Son of God. “This is my body broken for you.” In the joyful feast with friends and followers, we realize that there is a hint of what’s to come.
What does this mean for us today? How do we follow Jesus? Perhaps it’s in the words that we use to address him. In verse 22, “the disciples” as a whole call Jesus “Lord,” meaning that he has authority in their lives. On the other hand, Judas, who betrays Jesus calls him “Rabbi” or teacher (verse 25), as one who has some good advice. Perhaps, unless we see Jesus as the true Lord, we will feel free to go our own way... and thus ultimately betray him.

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