Passover Dinner Conversation
Text: Matthew 26 : 1 - 30
The Passover Feast was celebrated nationally. It was also specially celebrated by every Jewish family. The largely religious and ceremonial dinner allowed the family to recall God’s hand of deliverance and blessing upon the nation. Dinner conversation was meant to be centered upon God!
Dinner having begun, Jesus turned the conversation to the question of who would betray Him. Right up till now, the disciples had not given serious thought about who would betray their Teacher. Perhaps, they thought that Jesus would be arrested in public. Or perhaps one of the multitudes would betray Him. But never in their wildest dreams could they imagine that one of The Twelve would end up betraying Jesus. They did not suspect Judas in the least! They were deluded by his show of sincerity. They just couldn’t believe that one of them could betray their beloved Teacher!
“When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.
Now as they were eating, He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you,
one of you will betray Me.'”
Jesus had already forewarned His disciples that He would be betrayed and delivered to the chief priests (Cf. Matthew 17:22-23; 20:17-19)! But none of the disciples had asked Him to elaborate on what He meant! However, as they sat down to a meal that evening, Jesus spoke directly to the disciples!
“Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me!”
The disciples had heard many startling statements from the lips of Jesus! His teachings staggered many! Hypocrisy was exposed. Those who were not prepared to repent from their sins either cringed or became incensed against Him. The disciples had been rebuked for their lack of faith, and for their rank unbelief! But these words were the most devastating yet! One of the twelve would betray Jesus? How could that be possible?
Was Jesus rebuking them because they did not understand His teachings on eschatology? No, His tone was not one of rebuke! The disciples knew when He was angry with them! His tone was more of sadness.
There was no mistaking the tone of Jesus’ voice. He was dead serious about what He was saying. It was true then! It must be! No matter how unthinkable it may be, Jesus must have His reasons for making such a statement to them! The disciples feared their own hearts. Were they capable of betraying Jesus? They did not dare to contradict Him in any way. He must be right. He had never erred in His judgment. He had always amazed them at how well He knew each of them! Who among the twelve would even think of betraying Him? How could that be possible? There was only one thing left to do. Each must ask Jesus if he could be the traitor! With their hearts in their mouth, the disciples spoke to Jesus.
“And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them
began to say to Him, ‘Lord, is it I?'”
THE GENTLE GRACE OF JESUS
How gentle Jesus could be with His disciples! One of the goals of this exercise was to cause Judas to re-think what he was planning to do! Would he really go through with what he had planned? Did he think that Jesus did not know that he was plotting with the chief priests?
Jesus did not point His finger at Judas to denounce him. A lesser person would have done that! Instead, He continued to speak only in general terms! Only the guilty would feel the weight of His ominous words!
“He answered and said, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me
in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just
as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom
the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man
if he had not been born.’
Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said,
‘Rabbi, is it I?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it.'”
1. “Just as it is written of Him”
Jesus knew that He would be betrayed! The Scriptures prophesied that He would suffer and be put to death! He had accepted His suffering as God’s will and God’s plan for redemption!
2. “But woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed”
The expected suffering of Jesus did not excuse or exonerate the betrayer of his guilt! If Judas planned to carry out his plan to betray Jesus, then he must know the consequences too! He must be given “fair warning”.
How does one describe the punishment that would be due to the person who betrayed none other than “The Son of Man”? Jesus did not elaborate except to say “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born!” What He did not say was even more powerful and significant than if He had actually described his punishment!
3. The brazenness of Judas
How did Judas feel as Jesus spoke those words? He must have known that they were directed at him. He must have realized that if Jesus had pointed an accusing finger at him, the disciples would have torn him apart!
Judas was too far gone to respond to anything Jesus said. His gentle grace was ignored. His word of warning was easily cast aside! Playing his hypocritical part perfectly, he said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He never did address Jesus as “Lord!”