One of the greatest pieces of art ever created (ok, I have trouble with the word “created, but I don’t have a good substitute here) is Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” It has all the characteristics of great art and adds a bit of intrigue.
But historically? It just isn’t accurate at all.
Da Vinci’s great work shows those at the Last Supper either sitting or standing behind a long table, modern banquet style. This simply is not how people gathered for breaking bread together during the time of Jesus.
The table would have been low to the floor and either square or rectangular. People gathered around it, and, since they did not use chairs, reclined on their left sides. This allowed eating with the right hand. Most people are (were) right-handed and the right hand was the “clean” hand. The left hand was used to perform “unclean” duties.
Jesus, as host of this Passover Feast, would have arranged the seating… err reclining. A person could rest by reclining on the chest, or bosom, of the person to their left. This may be the font of the term “bosom buddies.”
According to Scripture, John would have been to Jesus’ immediate right.
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. –
Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” – John 13:25
(Isn’t John subtle in how he portrays his relationship with Jesus?)
Jesus had just predicted His betrayal:
I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned[a] against me.
As we know, this was Judas Iscariot. There is much controversy about Judas. Was he truly a traitor, or had Jesus arranged for Judas to betray Him to fulfill prophesy? I think we find the answer here:
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me. – John 13:21
Jesus knew who was going to betray Him. Yet it grieved Him. He was “troubled of spirit.” Jesus gave Judas several opportunities to change his mind, but of course, he didn’t.
In response to John’s question, Jesus replied:
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. – John 13:26
So, where was Judas sitting? Most likely, to Jesus immediate left. That way, Jesus would not have had to pass the bread around the table or get up to deliver it. Both would have been much more obvious than Jesus wanted it to be.
To Jesus left… Jesus had seated Judas in the place of highest honor at this table. Jesus has seated Judas as His “bosom buddy.”
So, Leonardo, you were a great artist… But your history stinks.
A question… did Jesus consider Judas a friend?
Alive in the Word