Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. Luke 22:7-23 (ESV)
The disciples are sharing the Passover with Jesus in the upper room. Judas has already betrayed Jesus to the chief priests (Luke 22:1-6) but the others are not aware that he has done this.
Theologians and scholars have speculated on Judas and his fate for centuries. It was appointed before the world began that Jesus would have to die and to be the sacrifice for fallen humanity. To be Judas, the one who would betray the Lord of Life for a few coins, is hard to imagine.
The hard reality is that we are all guilty in the same way as Judas. Every fallen human being, in our sinful nature and in our inability to stop sinning, betrays the Son of Man. Every lie, every covetous thought, every time we put ourselves and our idols above the One True God, every time we fall into resentment and hate, we too are the ones who surrendered Jesus to the chief priests. Our sins consigned Jesus to the Cross.
Even with the knowledge that His betrayer sat at the table with Him, Jesus still gives His body for us to eat and His blood for us to drink. In, with, under and through the elements of bread and wine, Jesus is truly present and truly given in the Sacrament. His Body and Blood, given, even for His betrayer. Given for the remission of the sins of the world, for even the most vile sinner who looks to Him in faith will be forgiven.
Maundy Thursday is a day of promise for the disciples, but also a day of worry and uncertainty. Where is this Supper heading? Jesus knows what He must encounter the next day. Judas knows Jesus is going to be put to death, and that he was the one who set the wheels in motion.
None of us can claim moral superiority to Judas. We learn in James 2:10 that anyone who violates even one teeny tiny point of the Law is guilty of violating all of it. Yet Jesus gave Himself and took our place so that our sins don’t stick to us. By faith in Him alone, we are brought to the font. We come to the Communion table.