Summary: We can all identify with the disciples on the night of the Last Supper. Just what are we capable of as disciples? Thank God for his Great Mercy!
Shall We Betray Him Again?
By Pastor Jim May
The final hours of Jesus’ ministry on earth were coming to a close. He fully understood what lay ahead of him and yet his face was set like flint to staying the course. The souls of every human being lay in the balance. Could he have refused to become the sacrifice? Certainly he could have. But he chose to continue on because of his great love for man whom he had created from the dust of the earth and endowed him with an eternal soul.
Jesus had sent his disciples into the city to arrange for a place where they might enjoy one last meal together. It was the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, more commonly known as the Feast of Passover.
On the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan God established this festival for Israel. On the first night, and again on the seventh, there was to be a time of convocation (meeting) between God and man.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was called such because only unleavened bread was eaten during these seven days. Unleavened bread reflected the fact that the Israelites had no time to put leaven in their bread before their hasty departure from Egypt.
A common Jewish tradition in preparing for the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to sprinkle leavened (yeast) bread crumbs throughout the house and then sweep them all up and burn them outside. Why would they do this? Throughout the Bible, leaven symbolizes sin. It is the substance that causes fermentation. The Lord said to His disciples "Beware of the leaven (false doctrine) of the Pharisees" In addition, the apostle Paul warned the Church at Corinth that "a little leaven (yeast) leavens (ferments) the whole lump" (I Corinthians 5:6). Paul was simply saying that if sin goes unchecked, it will permeate and infect everything and everyone around them.
And so, on this first night of the feast, Jesus and his disciples came together for one last time. They came into a large room in an upper floor of the house where a table had already been prepared.
Tradition tells us that the house most likely belonged to a follower of Jesus who had kept his loyalty secret because he was a man of high position in the city government and may have been appointed by the Sanhedrin Council. Whether that is true or not I do not know, but it does seem that the owner of the house knew about Jesus and was a supporter because he was quick to surrender the use of his room.
As they came into the room, each of the disciples began to take his place around the table. Pillows were on the floor and it was a low lying table. The Jews did not eat around a table, seated in chairs like we do. They lay on their side with their feet behind them, away from the table, leaning on one arm and eating with their free hand.
Lying there together, enjoying the feast as a family, it seemed to be a perfect picture of peace and harmony but Jesus knew that it was just the calm before the storm. These 12 men were hand picked, chosen and called to be the first of many disciples to come. Jesus loved every one of them and there was a closeness in the group that was the result of three and half years of sharing many things with Jesus. But all is never as it may seem on the outside for there wasn’t total unity in the group. One of them was a betrayer, but none would have suspected it at that moment, none but Jesus. Nothing was hidden from him. He is God and we can’t hide who we really are, or what we really think from him because he is the Living Word.
John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth."
Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
The feast was a happy occasion and filled with spiritual and historical meaning for the disciples, but the joy was soon to be taken away. Jesus began to be more serious and the laughter and noise began to die down. Then came a startling announcement.
Matthew 26:21-22, "And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?"