17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.’” 19 The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. (26:17-19)
Despite the intrigue, these verses show us Jesus in charge of the situation. He knew the priests’ purpose before they had formulated it (v. 2), and he is already well aware of Judas’ role (vv. 21–25). He now initiates the process which will lead without interruption to its climax on the cross. Its context, we are not allowed to forget, is the Passover, and it is with Jesus’ ‘Passover’ meal, giving startling new meaning to a familiar ritual, that the process begins.
Jesus possibly has already made an arrangement with the owner of the house for the use of a large room as such a room was unlikely to be available in Jerusalem at Passover time without prior arrangement. In any event, Jesus announces that “My appointed time [karios] draws near.” In Matthew kairos often refers to an appointed, climactic moment, the time of fulfillment or consummation (e.g. 8:29; 13:30; 21:34). Like the Johannine references to Jesus’ ‘hour’ (John 2:4; 7:30; 12:23; 13:1; etc.) it shows Jesus’ conscious fulfillment of a predetermined plan.