Jesus and the upper room, By Ahmad Deedat

This abode in question, is alternatively described as a ‘guest chamber’ and as a ‘large upper-room’ (Mark 14:14-15)

It is not the whole residence. It is part of a mansion. Do I have to prove this to you? Could this be the only room upstairs? Taking into account that this particular room contained a table big enough to seat at least 14 people on 14 clumsy chairs – Jesus and his 12 disciples making the ‘unlucky thirteen’, and John the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ being the owner of the house and ‘leaning on Jesus’ bosom’ (John 13:23) making fourteen in all.

Can you imagine the size of this ‘guest room’? – With pantry, and kitchen, and other facilities; and downstairs, where the owner’s family and servants resided. It was like a small palace! Jesus was familiar with this mansion. He had visited Jerusalem often for the feast of the Passover. Remember how he directed his disciples to find the place? (Luke 22:10)

My own humble abode has four entrances. Perhaps John’s ‘guest chamber’ had only one main-entrance with 2 doors. But was there a need to seal it off from the rest of the house? For the visitor, the front doors were sufficient for all their needs – entry and exit. And Eastern guests do not pry into passages, attics and apartments of their hosts! They are easily gratified with every little hospitality bestowed. But Jesus was no stranger to the house. He was like a member of the family of the disciple Jesus loved. He had no need to knock at bolted doors to terrify his timid flock. There were more ways than one of getting in. If there was any misgiving on the part of the disciples for his sudden appearance in their midst, he was quick in dispelling it. ‘Peace be unto you’, he cried; but his little lambs ‘were terrified!’ (Luke 24:36-37)

Opposite reactions on recognising Jesus
Remember at the break of dawn that very morning, a lone woman, Mary Magdalene, was mad with glee on recognising him around the tomb. And she had to be stopped in her stride from embracing him. But these ten heroes who were rattling sabres in this very room were now petrified on recognising their Master.

Why was there opposite reactions between the men and the woman? – Men terrified, woman not afraid? The reason is that the woman was an eye-witness to all the happenings around calvary, whereas the men were nowhere in sight. Therefore the woman went to the tomb with the intention of meeting a Live Jesus, and her joy on meeting him. But the ten were not witnesses to the happenings, hence their supposition about seeing a ghost. They were physically and emotionally on the verge of breaking down. Luke succinctly describes their condition “But they were terrified and affrighted and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37)

Reason for fear
The reason for their terror was that they thought that the man they saw standing in their midst was not Jesus himself but his ghost. Ask your ‘born-again’ friends who want to share heaven with you, the reason for the disciples thinking that Jesus was a spirit. Ask them, ‘Did he look like a spirit?’ And though misguided as they may be, you will hear their answer – ‘No!’ Then why did the disciples of Jesus think that Jesus was a spirit, when he did not look like one? There is no answer! They are speechless. Please help them. Free them from their infatuation.

The reason the disciples of Jesus were afraid was that they had learned by hearsay that their Master was killed by being fastened to the cross – that he was crucified.

‘Crucified’: Later on, ‘‘Crucified or Cruciplayed’ is discussed. The Gospel writers had not known the use of inverted commas to imply, that this is what other, say, or this is the ‘’so-called’.

They had learned by hearsay that he had ‘given up the ghost’: that he had died. They had learned by Hearsay that now he was –’dead and buried’ for three days. A man with such a reputation, would be expected to be decomposing in his tomb. For all their knowledge was from hearsay! – What they had heard! Because none of them was there to witness what was really going on with Jesus at Golgotha. In the most critical juncture in the life of Jesus “they all forsook him and fled” (Mark 14:50) Even more explicit, is Matthew “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled” (Matthew 26:65)

The genuine disciples
Mark is talking about the chosen ‘twelve’. Not about Jesus’ ‘secret’ devoted ones like the other John who took Mary the mother of Jesus home, and Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathe’a and the like. In view of the dastardly desertion by the other ‘twelve’, I am loathe to call these ‘men’ disciples. Or is Mark lying? When he said all, did he not mean ‘All’? There was no come-back with these heroes.

The author of the fourth Gospel lists a number of women from Jesus’ entourage. Among them three Marys, ‘and the disciple whom Jesus loved’. He repeats this phrase a number of times without actually identifying him as John their benefactor in Jerusalem. Why? If that John is the author himself of the fourth gospel, then why does he not say so. Why is he so shy? He was not very bashful when asking Jesus to make him and his brother sit “One on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand in thy Kingdom” (Mark 10:37)

Nicodemus: A selfless soul, who, having risked his all in associating with a man (Jesus) condemned by a Roman Court for treason, is deliberately blotted out of the 26 Books of the N.T. ‘It is difficult to avoid concluding that the omission in the synoptic tradition of the mysterious disciple was intentional,’ says Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield, one of the world’s leading, one of the world’s leading Biblical scholars.

The reason for his reticence is that the ‘beloved disciple’ is his namesake, i.e. his name is also John! The rest of the disciples were nowhere to be found when he (Jesus) was most in need. They all had, as Mark says, “forsaken him and fled!” (Mark 14:50)