The Last Supper
Passover and Food Menu

It's important to remember that no newspaper reporters were writing up the last supper. It was a pretty secretive dinner, held amongst friends. The only documentation we have about what was served and what happened there comes from those friends writing up their notes.

We have four main accounts, from John, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Some people feel those notes say that the Last Supper was a passover meal. However, many others believe this to be untrue. Depending on how you translate the words of Luke 22:15, it actually says that Jesus longs to eat Passover with them - but that he will be unable to because Passover is TOMORROW NIGHT. Many other phrases corroborate that preparations for Passover were commencing - but not the *dinner*. When the apostles ask about Passover, Jesus knows he will be crucified by then.

Look at the painting below.

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Leonardo DaVinci is very clear about what he is portraying. The bread on the table is leavened - that means it is fluffy with yeast, not flat. A traditional Passover meal would have flat bread. In fact, Passover is often called "Feast of Unleavened Bread". This celebrates when 3 million Jewish people were released out of slavery in Egypt, and in essence took off immediately, grabbing whatever was in their kitchens. They didn't even wait for the bread they were making to rise - they took it in its current unrisen state.

In modern traditions, Jewish families completely cleanse their homes of ANY yeast-raised bread - even crumbs - before Passover begins. They don't have any products with yeast anywhere in their homes. The flat bread represents simplicity and humility.

In fact, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8:

"Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Note that he says that Christ was our Passover, and mentions the unleavened bread to celebrate Passover with.

The bread on the table is definitely fluffy, leavened bread.

Next, look again at the painting. The group is eating fish. If this was really a proper Passover feast, the group would be eating lamb. The tradition is that the lamb is served with bitter herbs, to remind the group of the bitter troubles that ancient Jews had to endure. Again, this indicates that the meal was not a Passover meal.

Many signs indicate that Jesus himself is in fact the passover sacrifice. Many accounts list Jesus dying at 3pm (the 9th hour). This is also when it's recorded that the passover lambs were slain.

Now, what exactly does the Bible say about the meal?

The King James version of Matthew 26 says:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples,
and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine,
until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

Mark 14 says pretty much the exact same thing, you have to wonder that these guys didn't share notes or something ...

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them,
and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine,
until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

So anyway all we know for sure is that they had bread and wine. It's not like the local newspaper writers were making notes of what these 13 people in one room ate that night :)

From a Visitor -
Hi, I'm doing an anthropology paper on the Archaeology of taste at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and for my research paper I must describe a meal to study its origins. Working off Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece The Last Supper, I'm trying to identify the foods being eaten. Unfortunately, the descriptions I can locate include only bread and fish. Can you help? Do you have any idea what the Last Supper consisted of?

My Response -
The ONLY documentation about this meal comes from the four Bible sections I mention at the top of this page. You can read all 4 for yousrelf here - The only specific items mentioned are bread and wine. The Bible does NOT mention fish. Anything other than that is pure conjecture. Leonardo Da Vinci was NOT at the meal. The only reference source he would have had access to was the Bible. Anything else he chose to draw (i.e. fish) was his own fantasy.

From a Visitor -
I hate to correct you because I admire that you are trying to put all this together as an epicenter for info on this subject, but I read your comment of the last supper as being the day before the Passover and then I looked it up in the Bible and Matthew, Mark, and Luke all state that it was on the first night of the feast of unleavened bread, on THE night of the Passover. Just thought you might like that update.

My Response -
Actually it depends on what version of the Bible you read, in what language. Many researchers feel that the accurate, proper translation of the very original books we can find say that it is not yet Passover - and that the day Jesus dies is exactly when the Passover lamb was to be slain. So it depends on which version you believe. Apparently Leonardo believed those original versions of the books, as that is how he portrayed it.