Have you ever sat through a meal filled with social awkwardness? What about eating with people who you have major conflict? I remember sitting down at a table with a large group of people from a church I was new to attending. The weirdness hanging in the air was palpable. When I asked someone next to me why there was awkwardness, she told me that she had just broken up with a guy across the table. He didn’t want it to end; she did. Everyone but me knew about it. [It was college, so everyone was all up in everybody else’s business.]
Imagine what Jesus would have felt like at the Last Supper. Judas is sitting at the same table, ready to get up and betray Him to the authorities. Slightly more of a difficult situation to keep your wits about you, right?
Here’s the scene, from Mark 14:18-19 and 22-25:
While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus breaks bread and shares wine, even with the guy set to hand Him over to a death sentence.
In seminary, I had a friend who wrote an entire thesis on Jesus eating with people in the Gospel of Luke. Just the meals Jesus shared in Luke. To me, it didn’t seem like it would be enough material to write about, but she assured me that she was having trouble keeping it within the maximum amount of pages. (Crazy, right?)
Eating with poeple is something that held a lot of meaning back in the day. You explicitly approved or disapproved of people’s lifestyles if you ate with them. This is why Jesus gets so harshly criticized by the religious, snobby elite. They stick Jesus with a reputation of being a glutton and a drunk because of the company He keeps at mealtimes. Jesus isn’t shy about eating with people who are not living the way Jesus would hope they live.
Luke 7:34 – The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
Here’s the rub with this reputation He earned. Jesus also eats with the same religious, snobby elite who pegged Him as a “friend of sinners!” Of course, those “sinners” never slapped Jesus with a repuation of being a snobby, religiously prideful person. Ironic, huh?
It never matters who Jesus shares a meal with, because He doesn’t have to discriminate between who is and who is not a sinner. We are all equally sinful. Still, Jesus shares His cup with all of us. That’s the beautiful, scandalous aspect of the Gospel. Each of us get to partake in the meal with Jesus, despite that fact that no one is worthy to do so.
At the beginning of Lent, I wrote a post about who I am. I talked about how I am only dust, yet I’ve been given breath in my lungs. I am also more than dust.
Who am I?
I am Judas.
I am a betrayer of Jesus. I fall asleep on Him in the garden. I am like Peter, who denies Christ in the courtyard. I am Thomas, James, Andrew, and others who abandon Jesus in His time of need. I am like John, who stands in awe, shock, and shame at the foot of the cross as I watch my Savior die.
This is all of us. We betray Jesus every day.
And He still shares His cup with us.
So fill my cup to the brim, Jesus! Thank you for sharing it with me, despite how often I betray you.