Regardless of the reasons for painting it, The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci was a common theme among Renaissance painters. It was considered something of a challenge to the master artist to put together a properly crafted representation of the last meal of Christ. Much has been made of that final meal, not only in art, but in the basic Sacraments of most dominations of Christianity.
When did Jesus celebrate the last supper with his apostles?
The history of the Last Supper itself relates the final meal of Jesus with his twelve disciples, as described in the New Testament of the Christian Bible and though the exact day of the Last Supper is debated, most agree it was the day before Passover began. The location of the Last Supper of Jesus was in the Upper Room on Mount Zion, located near the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. During the course of the last Supper, Jesus spoke to his disciples while taking the bread and the wine, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. For that reason, the Eucharist was born, a tradition designed to remember that final meal of Christ. The room itself is known traditionally as the Upper Room.
The location of the Upper Room has been derived from the gospels stating that Jesus had a pair of disciples go to the city and meet a man who would lead them to a house where the teacher had a room. The room in question is described as the upper room and they are to prepare the Passover while there.
Because of the Last Supper’s time period, the actual city it takes place in is not known and could be anywhere just outside of Jerusalem. The Last Supper was the source for many of the symbolic actions taken by Christians in churches around the world. Jesus takes and divides the bread among his disciples, saying a prayer over it. He then hands the bread to his disciples and says this is my body. Then he takes his cup of wine and after offering another prayer, passes the cup around and says this is my blood of the everlasting ‘covenant’, which is poured for many. He then makes the instruction to do this in the memory of me.
It was also during this meal that Jesus offered the revelation that one of his apostles would betray him. It was truly the last supper that the disciples would have with Jesus. They each in turn refuse this claim, reasserting their loyalty, but Jesus insists that one of the men present will betray him. In both the gospels of Mark and Luke, the betrayer is not singled out. However Matthew and John specifically single out Judas Iscariot as the betrayer.
After confirming that Peter would deny Christ three times, Jesus finishes the meal with his disciples and begins a sermon, traditionally known as the Farewell Discourse. This final speech to his disciples in considered one of the most important descriptions of Christianity by Christ in the gospels.
The importance of the event lives on today in the form of the Eucharist of the Roman Catholic Church and the “Inauguration of the New Covenant” by most Christians. As a prophecy related by Jeremiah, this covenant refers to the line in which Christ told his disciples to eat of his body and drink of his blood. Other groups see the Last Supper as a symbol of change to the Passover ceremony, replacing the traditional Jewish practice with the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Generally, each of the major branches of Christianity has its own slightly different interpretation of the Last Supper. However, in the end, this final act by Jesus with his disciples is considered one of the most important and inspirational scenes in the Bible and subsequently in all of Renaissance Art.