Gateway Presents The Living Last Supper

Gateway Church in Grants Pass, Ore., was packed April 17 with 256 people attending the inaugural production of The Living Last Supper. Gateway Church plans to offer this program every year during the Easter season and is considering more than one performance in the future.

The performers grew beards to portray Jesus and His 12 disciples. Each of the costumes was made by a special group of women during a sewing bee.

As the opening scene came into focus, the unseen narrator, Steve King, began by describing who Leonardo Da Vinci was and why he was famous. The narrator went on to describe the opening scene from the view of 15th-century Italy.

Leonardo Da Vinci had chosen just the perfect time in history when he painted The Last Supper on the wall of the dining room of the convent and church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. Using a delicate solvent paint called tempera, Leonardo painted directly upon the dry wall of the refractory. As Leonardo painted, the audience could imagine the scene coming to life for him.

Jesus, portrayed by Nicholas Jones, Gateway Church pastor, stood, and the picture came alive for the audience as well. Jesus announced to His faithful followers that one of them would betray Him. Jesus’ composure was steadfast and unchanging, while the disciples became men of completely different attitudes. Jesus sat down and allowed each of His disciples to express himself.

First, James the Less, played by Marcus Bryner, expressed his concerns to Jesus. James the Less was usually in the background and felt inferior to the other James, and yet he sometimes felt larger than life around Jesus and maybe a little important by being a part of Jesus’ closest friends.

Returning to the scene, Matthew stood. Portrayed by Thomas Bennett, Matthew was a tax collector — and most people have no use for a tax collector. Matthew was noticeably the best-dressed due to his occupation. He came to realize that his wealth was of no importance. He would rather have given away everything he had just to be a follower of Jesus. Later in life he wrote the book of Matthew in the New Testament Gospels.

Nathaniel, James the Great, Andrew and Thomas, played by Guy Appleton, Ben Dixon, Mickey Bouck and Perry Kainer, respectively, each in turn brought the Last Supper to life.

Judas, portrayed by Michael Brackett, Medford Church assistant pastor, stood. He was not as visibly broken as the other disciples. In the excitement of it all, Judas declared Jesus was the Messiah; however, Jesus was so humble Judas thought He needed a little help to bring forth His kingdom. After all, Jesus knew what Judas is about to do, and He was not doing anything about it, was He? Thirty pieces of silver? Oh well, Judas would get to that.

Thaddaeus, Phillip, John the Beloved and Simon, played by John Wilson, Bob Potter, Tom Santos, and Leonard Parnau, respectively, each in turn also addressed the accusation of Jesus’ betrayal. 

Simon Peter, also known as "the rock" and played by Kip Bradford, stood. Confused like the rest, drew his sword. Once rebuked by Jesus, Peter was told that he would deny Christ three times before the cock crowed twice. Peter threatened to cut the heart out of the person who will betray Jesus. Then, overwhelmed with grief, he realized that it could be his own heart he was threatening.

The dramatic ending performed by soloist Jim Holder was the perfect finishing touch as he sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”

The lights went down, and the program was over.

Don’t miss this hour-long performance next year at Gateway Church.

June 20, 2014 / Oregon Conference