Feasting with God #19
Communing with a Betrayer
Text: Luke 22:19-23
19And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.
The Lord’s Supper is often called simply “Communion.” We refer to it in this way because in this meal, as we eat and drink our Lord’s body and blood we find ourselves in communion or fellowship with him. This meal brings us so close to Jesus, it is as though we are sitting down to an intimate dinner with family and close friends. And not only are we in such close communion and fellowship with Christ, but we are with our fellow communing Christians – those who stand or kneel next to us at the altar rail, those in all other churches around the world, and even those who have died, the saints in heaven. This sacrament is a sacrament of community, by which we confess that we share in the beliefs and mission of those we commune with.
But the first communion hosted an intruder. It should have been the most intimate of suppers: Jesus and his closest followers, his twelve disciples. But among them was the one who would betray their master.
Paul warns other Christians against the same thing in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27). The Lord’s Supper brings us forgiveness, and where there is forgiveness there is also life and salvation. These are brought to those who are in true communion with their Savior and with one another, but anyone who eats and drinks as though he is part of this communion and yet is not “eats and drinks judgment on himself” (11:29). This difference we see between Judas and the other disciples, when we examine their ends. Judas, who betrayed him, hanged himself in sorrow, unwilling to accept any forgiveness that would be offered to him. The other disciples, after Jesus’ resurrection, were sent into the mission of their Lord, to make disciples of all nations and baptize them, and to teach them Jesus’ doctrines and truths. This they did joyfully, because the forgiveness that was offered to them on account of Jesus’ death – the forgiveness tangibly fed to them in this communion, inspired this new life in them.
Let us be aware of the forgiveness we receive in this communion, and of the closeness of our relationship with our Lord and one another. Judas sought silver to replace all that, but what could be a greater treasure than forgiveness, life, salvation, and communion with God and our fellow Christians? All that is possible because of the sacrifice Jesus made and the Supper he instituted.
Dear Jesus, thank you for the great gift you have given us in the Sacrament of Communion. Guide us to see the wonder of the forgiveness, life, and salvation we receive there, and move us into ever closer fellowship with you and one another. Make our faith and new life sincere, and strengthen it by this Supper. In your name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.