Summary: When Jesus told His disciples one of them would betray Him,
Without a doubt, the best known representation of the Last Supper is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting: “The Last Supper.” It represents the exact moment that Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.” It shows the effect of that word, “betray” upon the twelve men most closely associated with Jesus during His life and ministry.
The scene is the night of the Passover. Jesus, surrounded by His disciples, is breaking the bread of their farewell meal. Love, terror, grief, and amazement find expression in the question, “Lord, is it I?” The disciples sit in four groups of three each. In their bewilderment the disciples have drawn away for the moment, so that Christ sits alone. Each disciple is expressing his feeling in his own way. Let’s read the passage on which this painting was based. (READ TEXT)
At the last Passover celebration kept with His disciples, Jesus instituted the ordinance we celebrate today - the Lord’s Supper - communion. As we read John’s account of what transpired that night, I want us to think about the crowd who was there at that first communion observance. Gathered around the table that night with Jesus were twelve men. Each had his particular need, his particular character, and his own thoughts.
As we are gathered around this table today, each of us has our particular need, our personal character, and our own thoughts. The crowd gathered around the communion table today in many ways may reflect some of the same things seen at that first communion instituted by our Lord. Let’ s consider the crowd who was at that first communion and see with whom we could most identify.
1. There were those for whom the Lord’s table meant nothing.
For Judas Iscariot, the Last Supper with the Lord meant nothing.
He had decided to betray the Lord. Jesus was aware of his decision, yet made appeal after appeal to Judas.
A. Jesus gave Judas a special privilege.
The very fact that Jesus allowed Judas to be present on that evening was a demonstration of love and an extension of an opportunity to repent. If the other disciples had known what Jesus did about what Judas had decided to do, he would not have been allowed to leave that room alive. But Jesus, despite Judas’ choice to reject Him and betray Him, nevertheless extended Judas opportunity to repent and enter into a personal love relationship with Him.
B. Jesus gave Judas a special position.
In Jesus’ day, the practice was to recline as they ate. They would recline on their left elbow and use their right hand to eat with. Jesus and His disciples were more likely reclining in a circle around the food that night, resting their head on their left hand and eating with their right.
John must have been reclined at Jesus’ right, because the Bible says that he “leaned back against Jesus” (v. 25). Jesus was obviously close enough to Judas to talk intimately to him, so it is likely that Judas was reclined to the left of our Lord.
The place on the left of the host was considered to be the place of highest honor, reserved for the most intimate friend. This was the position that Judas occupied at the Last Supper.
C. Jesus gave Judas a special portion.
For the host of the meal to offer a guest a special portion from the dish was a sign of special friendship. We see this in Ruth 2:14. When Boaz wanted to show how much he honored Ruth, he invited her to come and dip her morsel in the wine vinegar. When Jesus handed that morsel of bread to Judas, it was a mark of special affection.
How ironic that despite one attempt after the other on behalf of our Lord to offer Judas opportunity to repent and be forgiven, Judas persisted in his course of rebellion.
We should not be too surprised at this however, for the same scenario is being played out in the lives of people all around us. It is possible that it is being played out in your life today. Jesus is reaching out to you today just as surely as He reached out to Judas.
“Throughout Scripture, God reveals Himself as a seeker. We find Him on a continual pursuit for something. We find the Father seeking (John 4:23), scanning the earth from heaven (Ps 14:2), His eyes running to and fro throughout the planet to find something (2 Chr 16:9). We find Jesus telling us that He has come to seek (Luke 19:10). We find Him giving us a deeper glimpse into His heart by comparing Himself with a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to seek the one lost (Luke 15:4-7), with a woman combing through her entire house on the search for a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), with a father who incessantly scans the horizon for the return of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20), and with a merchant seeking fine pearls (Mt 13:45-46). Throughout Scripture we encounter a God who is on a quest, a seeking God, chasing and pursuing. The pages of the Bible are permeated with the seeking of God. God has been a seeker all along. It's within His nature, it's who He is and something He enjoys about Himself. Yet it should startle us that the completely omniscient, self-sufficient God that owns everything and needs nothing would seek for something, and that this something would be us.” - Benjamin Shafer