Wednesday, December 9, 2015
At The Last Supper
“When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.” (john 13:21-22)
After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus resumed his place at the table. He was visibly troubled and told the disciples that one of them was going to betray him. Because they couldn’t imagine any of the others doing it, each one began to ask if he thought it would be them, as Matthew 26:22 describes. “And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?” Judas knew exactly who it was but he didn’t want to call attention to himself. Matthew 26:25 tells us, “Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.” When Judas asked, Jesus said in effect, “you said it”, indicating he knew and giving Judas a chance to change his mind.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?” (John 13:23-25)
Three hundred fifty years before, Alexander the Great had conquered Israel and after the division of the Greek Empire, both the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires had spread Greek culture. The Jews had adopted many aspects of Greek culture themselves. One of the practices was that of reclining on couches around the table at feasts and snacking for hours after the main meal, much like a group of college students lying on the floor around a bowl of popcorn. John was lying next to Jesus and Peter signaled him to ask Jesus which one it was. Notice that the paintings of the Last Supper are based on European ideas rather than the customs of the day.
“Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:26-27)
They were eating much the same way a group of friends might eat chips and dip. When John asked who would betray him, Jesus said it would be the person who he handed the piece of bread he was dipping to. He then gave the piece of bread to Judas. Until that time Judas had been hesitating, but now he resolved to go ahead. Jesus told him he better go get what he was going to do done quickly.
“Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.” (John 13:28-30)
Though Jesus had specifically identified Judas two or three times as the betrayer, none of them believed it would be him. When Jesus told him to go do what he was going to do, some of them thought he was sending him to buy things for the feast of unleavened bread, which started that day, since he was the treasurer. Others thought he was going to give something to the poor, since he had made such a big deal about helping the poor. When Jesus handed him the piece of bread, Judas immediately left. It was already dark.
“Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:31-35)
After Judas left, Jesus told them that it was now time for God to be glorified witht eh completion of his plan. He told the disciples that he would only be with them a little while longer, and that like he had told the Jews earlier, they could not go with him where he was going. He gave them a new command, to love each other, stating that that would be the evidence by which the world would know whether they were really Christians. Historically, fighting among those who claim to be Christians has turned many away from God.
“Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou?
Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” (John 13:36-38)
Peter wanted to know where the Lord was going, that they couldn’t go with him. Jesus said they couldn’t go at that time but they would follow him later. Peter wanted to know why he couldn’t go right then. After all, he would be willing to risk his life for the Lord. Jesus asked if he was really willing to give his life. It is one thing to make such a statement when the danger is kind of abstract, but it is a different thing when it is an immediate threat, Jesus warned him that before the rooster crowed the next morning, within about six hours, Peter would have denied the Lord three times. None of disciples thought anything could make them deny the lord, and surely not that easily. Matthew 26:35 tells us, “Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” Until we have been in the situation, we don’t really know how we would respond.