When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 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.”
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
It is Thursday of Holy Week, also known as Maundy Thursday.
Maundy comes from the Latin word for “command” because it was here at the last supper, that Jesus gave his disciples this command.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
From this evening comes the Christian tradition of communion. Churches have had to get a little creative with the sharing of the bread and wine over the past year as no one wants to share a cup, not even a consecrated one.
Communion traditions vary among the denominations. But whether it’s grape juice in a disposable plastic cup, or wine in a shared chalice, the intent is to same. This is how we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice.
In the 70s I had a poster that showed the bread and the wine. The caption read something like “Jesus of Nazareth requests your presence at a dinner to be given in his honor.” That’s a paraphrase of what I can remember from about 50 years ago.
I mentioned yesterday that I always wanted to be cast in Jesus Christ Superstar, but I knew that I’d never make it as one of the disciples. Still, I’ve actually portrayed a disciple a few church productions. Tonight I’ll be part of a pre-recorded Living Last Supper where I play the Apostle James.
Narrator: Yes, he knows that he is too old. These are not normal times.
As believers, we know that the next couple of days are dark ones, but we have the advantage of knowing how the Easter story ends.
That night around the table, the disciples weren’t quite sure that they were hearing. They really didn’t understand that the next few days would be the worst days of their lives. In a little more than twenty-four hours, all of their hopes would be dashed.
Darkness. Despair. Hopelessness.
Ah, but there is hope.
And it’s worth waiting for.
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Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.