When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant [established by] My blood; it is shed for you. But look, the hand of the one betraying Me is at the table with Me! For the Son of Man will go away as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” So they began to argue among themselves which of them it could be who was going to do this thing.
Several years ago when I was a member at First Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN I had the opportunity to take part in a dramatic reenactment of the Lord’s Supper. I played the role of Phillip. The presentation centered around the table where we, the 12 disciples, were seated around Jesus listening to the words He spoke in the passage above. Upon hearing that one would betray Him, each of us portraying the 12 stepped forward and revealed our thoughts, each wondering if he could be the one Christ was talking about. I’m no actor and was surprised by my willingness to play a role in that performance. But, looking back I’m really glad I did it. The experience is something I won’t forget, and it really gave me new insight to the disciples.
What struck me then, and still gets me today, is how the disciples reacted to Jesus’ prediction that one of the 12 would betray Him. “So they began to argue among themselves which of them it could be who was going to do this thing.” Here we have a group of 12 who were closest to Jesus. They had been traveling with Him for 3 years, yet there was still doubt. Upon hearing that one would betray Him they argued about who it might be. I wonder if any of them stood up and looked Jesus in the eye and said no way! I could never do that! Or, did they just look at each other and start pointing fingers (which is more like how it seems to me). I guess after spending so much time with Jesus and hearing and seeing all He had taught and done the disciples would have understood so much more.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen today if Jesus was seated at a table with us and gave us the same message…one of you will betray me. How would we react? Would we stand up and say that’s not going to happen, or would we argue about who it might be and start accusing each other? I’m afraid we would do the latter. Or, even worse, we would tell Him we won’t betray Him then do just that. I fear we are often not too different from the 12 who were seated with Christ then. My prayer for this Maundy Thursday as we remember that first communion is that we will look at our hearts and know, without a doubt, that we would stand firm in our faith and never betray or deny Jesus Christ.