Written Word

The Lord’s Supper – Part 1

The Lord’s time with his apostles was coming to an end, the fulfillment of his purpose on earth was fast approaching, and he still had much to share with them. Their last evening together would be memorable. “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 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.” (Luke 22:7-12)

Jesus had spoken often with his apostles about his death, but during the meal he astonished them with the announcement that he would be betrayed, and by one of them. In unison they declared their innocence. They asked Jesus to identify the betrayer and he said, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish,” and he gave it to Judas with the words, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” Judas got up and left their company. The disciples did not understand what Jesus had said to Judas and assumed that since he was the treasurer he was going out to buy some food for the poor. (Luke 22:26-30) Not so. He was putting the finishing touches to the plan he had been harbouring for some time. In spite of their efforts to destroy Jesus, the religious authorities had not been successful. The teaching of Jesus had put him on a collision course with them and Jesus’ death was the only way of stopping him. We can only imagine their surprise when Judas arrived that night. The conversation might have gone something like this:

“I’d like to speak to one of the priests. Tell him it is to his advantage that I speak to him immediately.”

“Who shall I say wishes to speak to him?”

“My name is Judas Iscariot; I’m one of Jesus’ apostles.”

Whatever planning session or discussion they might have been engaged in would have stopped, and their undivided attention would have been given to Judas. As he spoke, they would have realised that his plans to betray Jesus dovetailed perfectly with their own plans and desires. What he was sharing with them was music to their ears. In fact, Mark tells us: “They were delighted to hear this and promised him money.” (Mark 14:11) Such good fortune, they probably surmised, was nothing other than divine intervention. Judas had come in answer to their prayers. In their eyes, the evidence that this was indeed the hand of God was beyond dispute for who would ever have thought that their big break would come from one of Jesus’ own group. Yes, they would have concluded, God works in mysterious ways.

The next few hours would be important for Judas as he sought out the right moment to lead the authorities to Jesus. He must proceed with caution and not arouse suspicion. After all, it is not every day of the week that one can earn thirty pieces of silver. All this was taking place while Jesus and the eleven apostles were gathered in the upper room, all but Jesus unaware of the treachery being planned.