The Betrayer and the Lord’s Supper

17 Jun
Lord's Table

from Google Images

When the time had come, that is, the particular day had arrived in which his final meal with his disciples was to be eaten, Jesus came with the Twelve and told them that he longed for this hour or day to arrive. However, we may need to ask what did he mean? Was he referring to that particular meal that he longed to share with his disciples? Or, did he long for a particular day to arrive and share his final meal with them (Luke 22:15)? It seems to me that Jesus referred to a particular day, as is seen in Luke 12:50. Jesus often spoke of his coming sufferings and death (cf. Matthew 20:17-22; Mark 10: 31-38), and the Gospels point to a specific hour or day that Jesus was destined to face (John 4:34, John 7:6-8, 10, John 10:39-41, John 12:27-28, John 18:11, John 19:30). It was this day that he longed to share with his disciples, those closest to him.

Moreover, Jesus said he wouldn’t eat or drink again with them until the Kingdom of God would come, and he passed around the bread (implied) and the wine, telling them to divide it among themselves (Luke 22:16-18). In other words, Jesus was saying this would be their final meal together until the Kingdom of God would arrive.

Jesus passed the bread and the wine around the table, telling his disciples that the bread represented his body, broken for them, and the wine represented his blood, shed for them. Then he told them to do this in memory of him. That is, in this act Jesus initiated the New Covenant, with the materials representing that covenant. The Passover Seder would be partaken on the next evening. It represented the Old Covenant, represented in the lamb and the unleavened bread eaten with bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8). For the New Covenant the symbols would be bread and wine (Luke 22:19-20). It may be necessary to say that the bread which we break is not necessarily unleavened bread, because although unleavened bread is implied, it is not specified in the Gospel records as it is under the Old Covenant.

Jesus then said that he would be betrayed by one of his disciples (Luke 22:21-22), and his announcement came just after his instituting the New Covenant with the bread and wine (Luke 22:19-20). However, in both Matthew and Mark Jesus’ announcement of his betrayal comes just prior to the institution of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:21-29; Mark 14:18-24), which means Jesus made mention of his betrayal at least twice, once before and once after the New Covenant was instituted.[1]

Jesus’ mention of how it would end for the man who betrayed him (Luke 22:22) is in perfect agreement with what Paul tells the Corinthians, when he writes of the memorial meal in 1Corinthians 11:27-30. In other words, by partaking of the symbols of the New Covenant, Judas ate and drank his own judgment, unless he repented.

An interesting point would be that Mark identifies the traitor as being one of the Twelve (Mark 14:20a). In other words, the betrayer was not just any disciple of the Lord. He was one of his chosen few, whom Jesus had selected to be with him during his entire public ministry, and which would be his witnesses (Mark 3:13-19; cf. Acts 1:16-22). The point being, if the traitor was one of the Twelve (Mark 14:20), and Peter wished to ask someone near Jesus to identify the traitor, it seems to me that the last person or persons Peter would ask would be one of the Twelve. Otherwise, how would he know, if he were asking the traitor to identify the traitor?

According to the other Synoptics, each of the Twelve asked Jesus: “Surely, not I, Lord?” and their question came as they ate the meal (Matthew 26:21-22; Mark 14:18-19). However, both Luke and John tell us that it was after the meal that Jesus mentioned he would be betrayed (Luke 22:20-21; cf. John 13:2, 21), and at that time their questions were addressed to one another (Luke 22:23; John 13:22). It was after this second announcement that Peter beckoned to the disciple whom Jesus loved (not an Apostle), to inquire of Jesus who the betrayer actually was (John 13:23-26).


[1] Luke also records that Jesus passed around the bread and wine at least twice, once either before reclining for the meal or just as the meal was beginning (Luke 22:15-18). This, however, was not the institution of the New Covenant. The second time the bread and wine were passed occurred while they ate (cf. Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24). This passing inaugurated the Covenant.

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Posted by on June 17, 2018 in Gospel of Luke


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