I went to my church's Bible study last night. We're going through A Fragile Stone: Peter: Jesus' Friend, With Michael Card. Our focus last night was on the last supper.
way that Michael Card was presenting the seating arrangement at the
last supper, John sat at Jesus' right hand, which was the honored seat.
Judas sat on Jesus' left hand, which was the seat of the intimate
friend. And Peter sat in the less prestigious servant's seat, which was far away from Jesus.
Card backed up much of what he was saying with Scripture, and this site
fills in some of the gaps. (Well, Card did not present documentation
that the right hand was the honored seat, whereas the left hand was the
seat of the intimate friend, but he did present evidence that, according
to the Gospel of John, John and Judas were sitting next to Jesus at the
last supper, and those were most likely honored seats----see Mark
10:37-40). John (assuming that John is the Beloved Disciple in the
Gospel of John) sat close enough to Jesus to be able to lean into Jesus'
breast and ask him the identity of the betrayer (John 13:23, 25).
Peter obviously was not sitting close to John, for Peter had to motion
for John to ask Jesus who the betrayer was, implying some distance (John
13:24). And Judas was probably sitting next to Jesus because Judas was
close enough to receive the sop that Jesus gave him, plus Judas was
privy to the discussion about who the betrayer was, whereas most of the
disciples at the table were not. After all, most of the disciples at
the table did not think that Jesus, when he told Judas to do his task
quickly, was referring to Judas' betrayal of Jesus, but rather to Judas'
responsibilities as the group's treasurer (John 13:26-29; cp. Matthew
26:25). John and Judas were privy to the discussion about Judas
being the betrayer, indicating that they probably sat next to Jesus.
And perhaps Peter was privy to the discussion as well, from his lowly
and distant seat, if John motioned to Peter that Judas was the betrayer!
I wish that the lesson got more into why Judas was sitting in an honored spot next to Jesus at the last supper. Was
Jesus trying to discourage Judas from going through with the betrayal?
That doesn't exactly work, for Jesus told Judas to do the betrayal
quickly. Was Jesus being ironic in honoring someone who was not
Our workbook was asking us
questions about how Peter must have felt to be put in the role of a
servant. Some said that Peter probably felt honored to be given the
task of making the arrangements for the last supper (Luke 22:7-16).
And yet, because Peter was likely one of the disciples who was arguing
that he was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27), we in the group were
speculating that Peter must have felt upset that he had been assigned
such a lowly place to sit. On page 41 of the workbook, we
read: "As you think about the possibility of being slighted by a good
friend, how can this scene help you to realize that the friend may have
had a good reason for his or her action----and that it was not directed
The thing is, I'm not sure that Peter was particularly upset in the story.
The text does not say that he was upset. Rather, Peter remains
fiercely loyal to Jesus, affirming that he would die for Jesus and would
never deny him. And Peter is especially offended that Jesus was
washing the disciples' feet, probably because he firmly believed that
the master was above the disciples and should not be serving them.
Peter may have wondered why he got a shoddy seat, and yet his love for
Jesus could have overwhelmed any resentment he may have felt. Or
perhaps Peter, notwithstanding his bravado, was someone who was
naturally a giver: he was the type who stepped in and did things that
needed to be done. He'd be like my Grandma at Thanksgiving: he
can't take a break and eat because he's busy looking out for other
people's needs. Or maybe he wanted to serve Jesus, for, as I said, he
had firm beliefs about masters being above their disciples in
authority. In that scenario, he voluntarily sat in the servant's seat.