I felt like my sermon rambled on Sunday, so let me try and summarise it here.
In this passage, Judas is the obvious bad guy. He agrees to betray Jesus for money. (22:4; Cf Lk 16:13) But Judas is not the only one who betrays Jesus at this Passover meal he “eagerly desired to eat” with his disciples.
During the meal Jesus discusses several profound ideas with the apostles.
- He’s going to suffer (v15);
- The kingdom of God is coming (v16-18);
- He’s leaving, but he provides a way for them to remember him (v19);
- He’s ushering in a new covenant (v20).
Despite the significance of these points, the disciples don’t seem moved to respond or question him until he broaches the topic of his betrayal (v21-22). At this point the betrayal begins:
The Twelve ignore the greater calling of the kingdom of God and dispute which of them is the greatest (v24). Jesus responds by calling them to serve others.
Peter self-confidently corrects Jesus, implying that he’s immune to Satan’s attacks and temptations (v33). Perhaps he’s still arguing that he’s the greatest. Jesus prays for Peter.
Jesus tells his disciples that his ministry is concluding and they’ll be on their own, and The Twelve respond by placing their trust in their strength and weapons (v35-37).
Self-confidence. Pride. Selfishness. Arrogance. Self-sufficiency. Independence.
It’s easy, at times, to replace God with our own gifts, skills, strengths and resources. Jesus knows that the apostles, and the world, need him to receive eternal life. But just as he’s about to offer himself for them, they focus on their own greatness, not their reliance upon God. They’re more interested in ruling the kingdom of God, than they are the message and mission of the kingdom. In time, their perspective will change, but right now it’s as though they’ve never heard a word he said.
Judas wasn’t alone that night in turning his back on the mission and message of Jesus.
Jesus intends for the Lord’s Supper (Communion, Eucharist) to remind us of our higher calling, our higher destination, and our dependence upon God. In Luke’s account his emphasis is clearly on the big picture, while the disciples focus on themselves.
- In your experience, is the Lord’s Supper about individuals, or the mission of God?
- I think that the regular reading of 1 Cor. 11:27-29 has made the Lord’s Supper personal and one dimensional for many people. Do you agree or disagree?
- If we participate in the Lord’s Supper regularly, and it reminds us of our human limitations and dependence upon God, why do so many Christians (including myself) still struggle with pride and self-confidence?