Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Week on Wednesday

                                                                                                  Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”  The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean.  The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table.   Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?”  So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.”  And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.  When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him.  Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”  None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.  Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor.  So Judas left at once, going out into the night.    John 13:21-30(NLT) 

Going out into the night; what an ominous phrase that is, considering what we know about Judas on this side of history.  He went dark that night, but it certainly didn’t begin that night!  As the treasurer, Judas had given into the lure of money well before accepting 30 pieces of silver to betray the Son of God with a kiss.

When Jesus declared that one would betray him, it was Judas who asked, is it I?[2]  The fact that Judas surrendered to Satan’s will at the supper brings more ominous thoughts. 

Paul tells us:

So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup.  For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.  That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 
1 Corinthians 11:27-30(NLT)

Examine yourself!  Notice, however, Paul did not write:  Examine others!  This Supper is intensely personal. 

However praying for others is certainly appropriate as the Body of Christ prepares to share one loaf and one cup – the one body and blood of her Lord.  Judas had been stealing for some time from the disciples’ purse; I can’t help but sense that, while we cannot know everything about each of those with whom we worship, constant prayer offered for our brothers and sisters would save many a potential Judas.

One of my prayers at the table is:  Lord, is it I…have I slipped into betrayal?  Search me, Lord; bring to my mind even the smallest detail; help me clear my heart before You.

When one serves communion it is impossible to miss the myriad of diverse faces before you, as you look people in the eye and declare:   the body of Christ, given for you. 

Mostly there is that smile, eyes then lowered and a sighed, thanks be to God.  Often there is a nod of acceptance, or a simple, humble look of gratitude. 

Sometimes there is a worried or confused look – and at such times my prayer is immediate for the one before me:

Father, grant her victory in whatever burden she faces; grant him peace.

While the Bible’s many stories of victory and overcoming faith are there to help us, inspire us, and lead us to stronger faith, the Judas stories are there to warn us, and help keep us from repeating unbelief and rebellion, or worse, indifference towards God.

While we do not celebrate the Lord’s Supper every day, we do eat several times a day.  Taking a moment before a meal to offer thanks can fall into a habitual ritual; but it doesn’t have to – not if you take the time as you prepare to eat to examine yourself for signs of going out into the night.  

For You Today

Holy Week – Holy Day today – Holy meal…every time.

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…and have a blessed day!

[1] Title Image:  By Andrew A. Shenouda from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (It's the Holy Week!), via Wikimedia Commons
[2] Matthew 26:25

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