14 When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. 15 He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” 17 After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” 19 After taking the bread and giving 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.” 20 In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.
21 “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. 22 The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” 23 They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this.
I try to imagine what it must have been like to be at the table with Jesus that evening in the upper room. The disciples are feeling confident that Jesus will soon establish His Messianic kingdom. Jesus has been faithfully following all that God has asked him to do. Jesus is not at the end of His ministry, but at its fulcrum, the point where it is balanced, before it pivots all of human history towards the cross, redemption and resurrection. God’s love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice will pivot the world into a new relationship with God and God’s Kingdom.
At this last Passover meal that Jesus has ‘earnestly desired’ to share with his disciples, Jesus talks of suffering, God’s Kingdom and a new covenant. These are not the Passover words every disciple knew by heart, but a new language Jesus was giving them. It was a shared meal with new meaning that they would only later come to understand. This will be for all time a shared meal of remembrance, the celebration of the new covenant of all that Jesus did for love of us, by dying for our sins so that we may be redeemed.
Why do we keep doing this shared meal? Jesus asked us to remember. Each moment of our lives God’s grace is inviting us into relationship and participation. Each time we share the bread and cup, God has provided a means of grace for us and we proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” And each time we go from the Lord’s table we are spiritually nourished and strengthen by the Spirit to be the body of Christ, God’s love in action, at work in the world for God’s Kingdom.
And yet, at that perfect shared moment of bread and cup, the promise of sharing again with Jesus at the heavenly banquet in God’s Kingdom, Jesus speaks of betrayal. One sitting among them will betray Jesus. They argue, suspicious of each other as their indignation turns to fear.
Who would betray Jesus? The question hangs in the air for each of us.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
This Holy Week as you come to the Lord’s table, experience Jesus’ words anew in the sharing of the bread and cup. Be nourished and strengthened by the Spirit and go into the world, humbled by God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice for you.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, we are overwhelmed by your love and mercy. With every cup and breaking of the bread, fill us with your grace and your Spirit as we remember the sacrifice of your son, Jesus. Amen.
Our Lenten Series
For our Lent series this year, we’ll be using the Adam Hamilton book Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws. At his website, you can find a 40-day reading plan to help you read through the Gospel of Luke during Lent. And join us for worship, in-person or online, at 9:00 & 10:30 every Sunday.