You look around the room. Your followers, your friends, have been with you now for three hard years. There were once many more, but these twelve are now the true faithful. Almost everyone else has fallen away.
You have been telling them for weeks now what will happen in the days ahead. No one seems to really believe what you're saying. They nod, but you know you're not getting through; they don't really understand yet what you're saying.
You had arranged to share this meal with them to try once again to help them to understand what they needed to prepare for. Time is short, and this is the last chance you'll have to help them comprehend the shocks that they will experience soon.
When you stand and take off your cloak, and wrap the towel around your waist, you see shock in their eyes. When you pour water into the basin, and begin to wash their dusty feet, they begin protesting loudly.
"Master, stop this. Let us get one of the servants to do this."
"No, I won't stop. You have to know who you are, and who I am. I am showing you how you are to act toward each other. Even though you say to me 'Master,' and so I am, I am here to serve you. The goyim lord it over each other, but that's not the way you must be. If you are to be great, you must take on the role of servant to all."
When you get to Cephas, he refuses to let you wash his feet. "Cephas, you must let me wash your feet, or you can be no part of what is to come. All I need to wash is your feet; once I have done that, you will be truly clean."
As you complete the washing, you look around at these familiar faces one more time. The initial shock has been replaced with curiosity and uncertainty. No one seems willing to ask a question; they're all waiting to hear what you will say next.
As you eat this evening meal, you explain many things to these men you know so well. Lively conversation flows back and forth. Finally, it's time to explain what is coming. Will they finally understand?
You tell them that among them is one who will betray you. When the shocked expressions are replaced by protests and questions, you point to Yehuda, and say, "You know what must be done. Do it quickly." With that, he leaps to his feet and runs out of the room.
Cephas is adamant. "No matter what anyone else does, I won't leave you. No, not even if I die!"
"Cephas, Cephas, you are so sure. Before the morning sun rises, you will have abandoned me three times."
Everyone else is equally sure that they will never turn their backs on you. You look at their open faces, and see that they still don't understand what you're saying. How can you get through?
You begin telling them about the Presence, and about who you are and what is to come after you leave. You use words of encouragement, you lift them up in a shared prayer, but you're still not seeing comprehension in their eyes. Sadly, you realize that your expectations are becoming true. They will have to go through the next days more unprepared than you wanted.
You want them to understand at least what you are leaving for them. You pick up a flat of bread, break it, and announce that this bread is your body, broken for them. Then, picking up the wine cup, you tell them that it is your blood, shed for them. They are to eat the bread and drink the wine every time they think of you, to remind them of the new promise you are making to them.
You tell them that you will be going away for a time. By now, late in the evening, time has become vague, as uncertain and fleeting as the fog that is snaking through the low-lying parts of the City and its suburbs. It will mean nothing to them to be more specific.
As you finish the bread and the wine, you can see that the excitement from earlier in the evening is finally giving way to fatigue and drowsiness. Regardless, you know that you can't remain in this room all night.
You stand up and begin moving toward the door. When Cephas asks where you're going, you motion for him and the others to follow. They will know soon enough where you're headed.