By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

The Upper Room of the Last Supper

Journey to Israel Where the Bible Comes Alive

I remember the April day that I was in Jerusalem and visited the Upper Room. What is the Upper Room? It's the location mentioned in the Gospels where Jesus celebrated his last Passover dinner with his twelve apostles. It's commonly referred to "The Last Supper" primarily because of the Da Vinci painting of that name that covers an end wall of the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.

Whether you've read the Bible or not, you may be wondering how it came to be that Jesus was in the Upper Room for a Passover Seder. Well, here's how Luke describes it:

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 upper room, 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. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."

~Luke 22:8-15

It was a Friday and I think about the fourth day of the Walk Where Jesus Walked tour. After a morning spent touring the Old City of Jerusalem, walking the Via Dolorosa, and visiting the Church of Holy Sepulchre, we were given only moments to pray at the Western Wall.

At this point, a couple of friends and I inquired about the projected afternoon itinerary of the guided tour for the large group we were traveling with and we decided that we would meet up with them in the late afternoon at the Garden Tomb. I'm not a big fan of the "get back on the bus tours" to begin with and at this point my friends and I needed a break to explore the old city of Jerusalem with more independence.

This was initially a very good decision and we had a wonderful afternoon. We did some local shopping, had engaging conversation about security at the Western Wall with some IDF soldiers, had a lunch from a vendor cart from a second story courtyard overlooking the Western Wall, and we had totally lost track of the hour by the time we were making our way to the Upper Room. When we got there, there was a man who had just locked it up.

[Photo: Exterior of the Upper Room Location, Jerusalem.]

It was Friday and because of the Sabbath, the Upper Room closed to the public earlier than during the week. We were heart broken and we were also beginning to think that our few hours of independence had backfired and we were going to miss seeing one of the most important places on the tour -- the location of the Last Supper.

We talked to the maintenance man in charge of the location who had just locked the door and we offered to pay him a nice gratuity if he'd let us spend ten minutes in the Upper Room. I'm so very grateful he was open to this offer. He unlocked the door and let us in.

[Photo: Interior of the Upper Room, Jerusalem.]

It was actually quite a good thing that we were late as we had the Upper Room all to ourselves. Just the four of us. I opened my Bible to the passages on the events of that Passover with Jesus and his apostles that took place in this very setting:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

~Matthew 26:26-30

The room we were in was not furnished, but during the time Jesus was there, imagine that there would have been rugs and pillows on the floor and possibly a very low table. They would not have been seated at chairs (as is depicted in the Da Vinci painting) because it was Middle Eastern custom during this period to sit on the floor.

As I sat there in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, I couldn't help but think of this wonderful song by Cherri Keaggy, In Remembrance of Me, and I sang it (just as the apostles had sung a hymn, I sang a modern day praise and worship tune). The acoustics were phenomenal and the song couldn't have been more perfect for the setting. I found it on YouTube and hope you'll play it and see what I mean (below):

I had a very special time in a very special place, but here's what everyone really needs to know. The "real" Upper Room was destroyed by the Romans in the first century when they leveled Jerusalem. I often joke and say that my Walk Where Jesus Walked tour of Israel should have been called the Walk Where Jesus MIGHT HAVE Walked tour. But that's okay.

[Photo: The Upper Room in Jerusalem.]

It is believed that the building where this Upper Room is located was built in the third or fourth century over the location of the original Upper Room and possibly even with stones from the ruins of that building. Regardless of its authenticity, it's a lovely place to come and, in some small way, imagine what that last Passover Seder might have been like for Jesus.

I love sharing about my travel experiences in the Holy Land on my Walk Where Jesus Walked tour because the Bible comes alive when you travel through Israel to places like the Garden of Gethsemane, the original steps of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, discovering the Eye of the Needle Gate, and even the Mount of the Beatitudes nestled next to the Sea of Galilee.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more