The Last Supper in the Bible depicts Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. This powerful story blends Jewish history and tradition with God’s new promise with humankind. During Holy Week, Christians believe that the Last Supper occurred on Maundy Thursday, a few days before Easter. Lessons on the Last Supper can help kids understand more about Jesus’ teachings and biblical history.
Jesus celebrated the feast of Passover during the Last Supper. To help children learn more about this special meal, prepare a Seder dinner. Explain to the children that this meal celebrates the ways God helped and blessed the Jewish people, beginning with the Passover during the time of Moses. For the Seder dinner, serve grape juice in place of wine and matzo. On the Seder plates, serve a piece of lettuce as the bitter herb that represents the slavery of Jews in Egypt, an apple an cinnamon mixture for the building materials that the slaves used, a cooked potato and a cup of salt water for the tears that the slaves cried, a piece of lamb to represent the sacrifices that the Jews offer to God and a hard-boiled egg to symbolize the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Throughout the dinner, explain the meaning of each food and sings hymns that the children know. If the children are old enough, you can draw parallels between the symbolism of the food and Christian beliefs.
Foot washing is a common practice performed before a Passover dinner, and Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, according to John 13:1-15. For a lesson, perform a foot-washing ceremony and wash the kids’ feet. Explain to the children that in Jesus’ time, servants usually washed the feet of house guests or the guests would wash their own feet. In this Last Supper Gospel story, Jesus was the person of honor, but he washed the feet of his disciples. Share that Jesus’ disciples were confused by this action, so Jesus explained that every person is equal -- a master isn’t better than a servant -- and that everyone should follow his example and treat each other well.
Jesus’ New Teachings
During the Last Supper, Jesus introduces a new commandment and offers teachings that aren’t written in the Old Testament. For a Last Supper lesson, compare the beliefs and traditions that the Jewish people followed in the Old Testament to the new teachings that Jesus shared during this meal. For example, in the Ten Commandments, God tells his followers to love their neighbors as they love themselves. During the Last Supper, Jesus adds the commandment to love every person as much as he loves you. Jesus also calls his followers “friends,” not “children,” showing that people can have a close relationship to God. Talk about how in chapter 14 in the Gospel of John, Jesus turns the tables on salvation. Explain that people once had to offer a sacrifice of a lamb or dove to have their sins forgiven, but that Jesus offers forgiveness and salvation to those who follow him because he was the final sacrifice when he died on the cross.
‘Do This in Remembrance of Me’
If the kids in your class are preparing for their First Communion or confirmation, have them examine 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26, which describes what Jesus did and said during the Last Supper, just before the soldiers arrested Him. Hold up a piece of unleavened bread or matzo and explain that Jesus thanked God for the bread he had and told the disciples that his body was like the piece of bread or the life-saving manna that God provided the Jews in the wilderness. Explain how the bread can symbolize God’s gift of salvation and how people who eat the bread are to remember Jesus’ sacrifice. Then give the children piece of bread to eat. Then hold up a cup of grape juice and share that Jesus said that the wine at the Last Supper represented the new promise that God made with humankind through the shedding of His blood.