MT. COMFORT — Everyone knows Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper,” which depicts the evening Jesus Christ was betrayed.
It is an event chronicled in all four of the Gospels in the Christian New Testament. And at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 13, at Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church, the dramatic scene will be recreated, and each of the 12 disciples will appear and relate what it was like to be a disciple of Jesus.
“There’s not enough emphasis on the Lord’s Supper,” cast member Rudy Nylund said. “This was the last time the disciples were really together before the crucifixion of Christ. And they kind of dispersed and some of them went into hiding. Others were more bold. But they all had a different spin on their allegiance and devotion to Christ.”
According to the story, Jesus gathered his disciples together to eat and tell them he knew what was coming. During the meal, Jesus gave the disciples instructions on how to eat and drink in the future, in remembrance of him. It was the first celebration of the Eucharist.
Specifically, the Last Supper painting portrays the few seconds immediately after Jesus lets the disciples know that one of them would be the betrayer.
In the re-creation, each disciple, beginning with Bartholomew, shares his thoughts and what it was like to be a disciple of Jesus.
David Gioe, who plays Bartholomew, is in his third year participating in “The Disciples Speak” program.
“I just really feel like it’s touching on the disciples and who Jesus was. It makes it real to me. Especially when I read the part and learned a little bit more about him and how he came to Christ,” Gioe said.
Bartholomew was one of the 12 Apostles and is usually identified with Nathaneal.
Like Nylund, Gioe gets a lot out of participating.
“I enjoy it. I get a lot of meaning out of it. When I get through the end of my part, I say a prayer asking for forgiveness,” Nylund said. “When I say this part, sometimes I get very emotional.”
And that’s not uncommon for both the actors and guests watching the program for the first time.
“About 30 or 35 years ago we did the Upper Room scene, and it was a different script from what we have now,” Nylund said.
He plays Simon the Zealot in the production and has been a part of it many times.
“A couple of times we didn’t even learn our parts; we had readers,” Nylund said. “Then the disciples acted out their parts.”
Decades later, the mission remains the same.
“We’re trying to bring other people closer to Christ and show them what the Last Supper was like,” Gioe said. “I think people want to celebrate Easter and see what the Last Supper was really like.”
The program’s director, the Rev. Robert Miller, said he was glad to bring the program to the public because it can provide a different way of looking at the story.
“We had done it for about six years,” Miller said. “Wherever we’ve gone, we’ve taken this particular rendition with us.
“It’s been very meaningful for people to see it. We’ve seen people get a different slant on Easter after seeing this re-enactment. Sometimes people don’t really understand what the Last Supper was like and what it’s all about.”
It’s a Passover tradition to have a dinner, and people usually lounged when they ate their meals. That way, they could eat more.
“We’ve had some people really have a spiritual experience,” Miller said. “These guys all do this because they enjoy it, and they get a feeling that it really gives people a chance to see something you won’t get reading it from a book.
“We hope the whole community comes out.”