It is Maundy Thursday, and the day we remember the Last Supper. On this night, Jesus has His last meal with His friends before He is arrested and crucified.
I saw a post on Facebook the other day posing a question about this night, and particularly about the devil’s and Judas’ roles. If the devil entered Judas Iscariot, as it says in Luke 22:3, then why did the devil lead him to betray Christ and send Him to the cross – His ultimate victory?
I suggest that the devil is a murderer, and without fully understanding the plan of God, was simply trying to kill Jesus before He could fulfil His role. Essentially, I think the devil unwittingly played into God’s hands. God’s will and purpose is always fulfilled.
My post today is not really about that issue however, but does pose a related question – who was calling the shots that night? Who was really in charge of the events that took place?
From Matthew’s Gospel, we read:
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’
23 Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’
Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’
Matthew 26:20-25 (NIVUK)
Jesus’ last meal with His disciples would have been quite an interesting experience. Most of them probably would not have realised that this was the last time they would spend time with Him before the cross. But Jesus of course knew.
The events of the Last Supper were significant in a number of ways. Not least was the instigation of the Lord’s Supper, or what we call Holy Communion. It is an important sacrament, and one we should take seriously, but we must not also lose sight of its original simplicity. Jesus broke bread and shared wine with His closest friends. The bread and wine represented His body and blood, and encourages us to remember Him and His sacrifice for us.
The account above tells us how Jesus broke not just bread that night, but bad news indeed! The disciples were shocked to learn that one of them would betray Him. But who?
Jesus, in front of them all, shines the spotlight on to Judas. “Surely not I, Lord?” he says, knowing full well it is him. “Yes, you!” says Jesus. There is nothing to indicate that Jesus did this privately or in a whispered corner. I think He pronounced this in front of them all.
What could Judas do now? Every eye was likely resting on him, accusing, wondering, and confused. What would you do in his shoes? Run? That’s exactly what he did. Clearly he had not planned this, and had not suspected his betrayal would be exposed in front of them all. He had to run for it, and immediately put his plan into action.
It is not always easy to grasp the timings of events in the Bible, but it seems that Judas would have run straight to the Pharisees and report to them where Jesus would go after dinner. There, in the garden, they would find him.
Jesus instigated this. Jesus forced Judas’ hand. They would not have wanted to arrest Jesus on a festival day – at Passover. They knew that to hold His trials overnight, as they did would be totally illegal. They had not yet had time to prepare the false witnesses who would later contradict one another in the kangaroo court.
The point is this. God is in charge. He was in charge that night, and He is in charge now. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were all part of God’s plan right from the very beginning.
God is not evil, but He will use evil to fulfil His plans and purposes. The devil wanted to destroy Jesus, and he used the evil heart of Judas to try it. Perhaps as Jesus was nailed to the cross, the devil may have thought he had won. But death could not hold the Lord!
This night, as you remember Jesus, imagine yourself as a fly n the wall at the Last Supper. What must Jesus have been feeling? If you were one of His disciples, would you have known what was coming?
We have the luxury of hindsight. We sometimes look down on the disciples for not seeing what we do, and yet had we been there, I’m not sure we would have fared much better than they.
However you commemorate this night, remember that Jesus did it for you. You may not be able to share in Communion with your church (if they are closed due to COVID) but you can still take time to reflect and remember.
Worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – because He’s the One who’s really in charge.