Posted by: mattcolvin | August 13, 2012

Follow the Man with a Pitcher

Monday of the 10th week after Trinity: Luke 22:1-13.

This Passage contains Jesus’ instructions to His disciples about procuring the upper room in which to eat the Passover:

“Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.


(Not a man carrying a pitcher of water.)

This room is, of course, an ἀνάγαιον or ἀνώγεον (so here, 22:12) or ὑπερῷον (the term used in Acts 1:13 for a similar room): that is, a second story of a house. Because of the engineering difficulty of supporting walls on a second story, such a room was usually very large, and thus was used for gatherings of many people. Jeremias explains in his Eucharistic Words of Jesus that because of the Torah’s requirement that Passover be celebrated “before the Lord”, the Jews ate it in Jerusalem, where many residents made some money by renting out their upper story rooms.

The present passage is remarkable for Jesus’ unusual, and seemingly gratuitous, miraculous prediction: “a man will meet you carrying a pitcher…” Jesus gives similar instructions about the procuring of the colt for the Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem in Mark 11:1-7:

1Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage[a] and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; 2 and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.

We have the same elements here:

  • Entry into the village or city.
  • Encounter with an unmistakeable person or thing.
  • An utterance that will gain the desired object of the mission.
  • The interlocutor’s compliance with the request.

It should be recognized that there is an OT antecedent for such scenes: Samuel’s instructions to Saul after his anointing in 1 Samuel 10:

2 When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands. 5 After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you. 8 You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”

I’m not sure how much to derive from this antecedent scene for the interpretation of Jesus’ two “GPS direction lists” to His disciples. This much seems clear: both Palm Sunday and the Last Supper have to do with the inauguration of the Kingdom, as did the anointing of Saul. This is especially true for those, like myself, who believe that Jesus used the already-established symbolism of the Passover meal both to identify Himself as the Messiah yet again, and to explain that the kingship of God that is such an important theme in the Seder (symbolized by the fourth cup from which Jesus abstained, and a theme of the concluding Blessing of Song) was about to be fulfilled in the actions which Jesus was about to undertake.


  1. […] similar to the sorts of signs given to Saul at the dawn of the kingdom (1 Samuel 10). Matt Colvin helpfully connects this mission with 1 Samuel 10 and with preparing the Last Supper in […]

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