Jesus’ heartfelt prayers in the garden of Gethsemane, a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where, according to Biblical texts, Jesus and his disciples are said to have prayed the night before Jesus was put on cross, tell us that he did not want to die on the cross.
If we take the account of the Garden to be true and avoid any convoluted interpretation of his prayers to God Almighty to rescue him from ignominious death on the cross, then the account of last supper becomes nothing more than a fiction created at a later time.
According to Luke 22:43–44, Jesus’ anguish in Gethsemane was so deep that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
The last supper painted by Leonardo da Vinci
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-42)
Did Jesus, before his death, institute a new Passover meal in which his martyrdom with its separation of body and blood was symbolized by the meal with its separation of bread and wine? On the one hand, Paul certainly mows about such an institution in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. But, on the other, John 13-17 has a last supper with Jesus and his disciples that is neither the Passover meal nor any type of institutionalized symbolic commemoration of his death. Neither the Gospel of Thomas nor the Q Gospel exhibits any awareness of a Last Supper tradition. Finally, the case of Didache 9-10 is especially significant. It describes a communal and ritual eating together, from the second half of the first century, with absolutely no hint of Passover meal, Last Supper, or passion symbolism built into its origins or development. I cannot believe that those specific Christians mew all about those elements and yet studiously avoided them. I can only presume that those elements were not there for everyone from the beginning–that is, from solemn, formal, and final institution by Jesus himself. “What Jesus created and left behind was the tradition of open commensality seen so often earlier, and what happened was that, after his death, certain Christian groups created the Last Supper as a ritual that combined that commensality from his life with a commemoration of his death. It spread to other Christian groups only slowly. It cannot be used as a historical event to explain anything about Jesus’ own death.
- John Dominic Crossan. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. Harper Collins, 1995. Pages 146-147.