The Last Supper: A Meditation and Retelling
Music by Ben Sound at www.bensound.com Today's meditation comes from Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-23, and John 13:1-30 Introduction: I found it rather difficult to synthesize the four versions of the Last Supper in the gospels, and particularly where Judas was, and where Satan was relative to Judas, at any given time. Matthew and Mark’s gospels kept the story simple and short, moving directly from Jesus’ mention that one of them would betray him into communion. There is no mention in those gospels that Judas left at all, or that Satan was present. They also both showed that Jesus started with the bread and then moved to the cup. There was no mention of anything Jesus told them afterwards, either; they just sang a hymn and then Jesus led his three closest disciples down to the Garden of Gethsemene. Judas clearly left at some point, because hours later he arrived in the Garden with soldiers; it just isn’t mentioned when. Luke went into more detail. He wrote in Luke 22:3 that Satan entered into Judas when he approached the chief priests and made a deal to betray Jesus. There was no mention that Satan departed Judas and entered into him again later, but perhaps he did, since John later makes mention that Satan entered into Judas after Jesus passed him the bread at the table (John 13:27). Also in Luke’s version, the cup came first and then the bread (not that this really matters). Jesus didn’t mention His betrayer until after communion in Luke’s version, suggesting that Judas was there at the time. Perhaps he was, though Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:27 that whoever eats and drinks the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. I suppose this would not be any truer of anyone in history than of Judas that night. John didn’t actually describe the Last Supper in terms of the bread and the cup at all, but he alone recorded that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. John 13:2 says that the supper was ended, though apparently the Greek phrase could have also been translated “during supper”—so I interpreted this as meaning they had eaten the Passover lamb and herbs, but Jesus had not yet instituted communion. Jesus’ comment that His betrayer was the one to whom He gave the bread after He had dipped it (John 13:26) is consistent with similar phrasing in Matthew 26:23 and Mark 14:20, just before Jesus institutes communion, suggesting this comment came first. Since John explicitly mentioned that Judas left right afterwards, and he was more specific about Judas’ whereabouts than Luke, his was the interpretation I used in the retelling. It also makes sense to me that Judas would not have been present for communion, for two reasons. First, Jesus hates hypocrisy (as evidenced by his many run-ins with the religious leaders), and he knew that Judas was not one of His, as He repeatedly said that night. If His betrayer were to take communion right before Him on the very night of His betrayal, it would have been the ultimate hypocrisy. Second, Jesus was always walking the fine line of trying to tell the disciples what was going to happen to Him in enigmas and riddles (Proverbs 1:6), but without spelling it all out until after He had already risen (Luke 24:13-49). There may have been many reasons for this, but one of them was surely that He didn’t want Satan to understand His plan, or else he would never have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8). Jesus knew Satan was in the room as long as Judas was. I suspect this was another reason why He didn’t want to explain about the body and the blood until after Judas had gone. Passover was instituted the night the Israelites left slavery. It was from then on both a ritual of remembrance, and also a prophetic act. The Egyptians painted the blood of their Passover lamb over their door posts, which protected those inside from the destroyer (Exodus 12:23). This was a perfect symbol of...
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August 20, 2021
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