The descriptions seem to indicate a restaurant of sorts, different from other accounts of Christ visiting the home of someone, and their hospitality to offer a meal to our Lord and those visiting with Him. So, it got me asking: what is the first restaurant, or more precisely, first Christian restaurant?
Webster's defines a restaurant as a business establishment where meals or refreshments may be purchased. While researching(?) the origin of restaurants, Webster's online site states the following: [An] Establishment where refreshments or meals are served to paying guests. Though inns and taverns served simple fare to travelers for centuries, the first modern restaurant where guests could order from a varied menu is thought to have belonged to A. Boulanger, a soup vendor who opened his business in Paris in 1765. The sign above his door advertised restoratives, or restaurants, referring to his soups and broths. By 1804 Paris had more than 500 restaurants, and France soon became internationally famous for its cuisine.
While no monetary transaction is described in the Gospels during the Last Supper, the description seems to be apply to a tavern or inn, as opposed to just being invited over to someone's home for a meal. This makes sense because Jesus and His disciples didn't live in Jerusalem, but traveled there along with many other Jews to partake in the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They would need a place to stay and "break bread" for the Passover meal.
The Gospel of Matthew: "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?' He replied, 'Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.' So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve." (26:17-20)
|Mystical (Last) Supper Orthodox Icon|
The Gospel of Mark: "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, 'Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?' So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, 'Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.' The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve." (14:12-17)
The Gospel of Luke: "Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.' 'Where do you want us to prepare for it?' they asked. He replied, 'As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.' They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table." (22:7-14)
Although the comparison of the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper with modern-day descriptions of a restaurant doesn't necessarily add up, it does seem to describe an ancient tavern or inn. Our Lord and His disciples came to Jerusalem for the Feast and needed a place to prepare their meal. Jesus prophetically tells his disciples where and how to set up their meal. The unnamed man (most likely, Jewish) shows them a "large guest room upstairs, all furnished." If he was Jewish, along with his family, they would partake in a Passover meal as well. But looking over the description, it seems that he wasn't inviting Jesus and His disciples over to share the same meal OR Jesus wasn't inviting himself over to share that family's meal. The disciples were making preparation for their own Passover meal at his residence, which he might have "rented out" to those who traveled to Jerusalem to partake in the Festival.
With all that said, the location for the Last Supper seems to be a tavern or inn-type operation, a forerunner of the restaurant industry. The restaurant comparison for the Last Supper comforts me when some argue that its better to celebrate with a meal at home instead of going out to a restaurant. My new response: "Even our Lord dined out on occasion!"
- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director