A New Command
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day that Christians all around the world will be commemorating the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before he was betrayed.
"Maundy" is derived from the Latin word "mandatum," which means commandment. This reflects the "new commandment" that Jesus gave to his disciples when he told them: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
On this Maundy Thursday, I am reflecting on something that has long haunted me about the Last Supper, and it has to do with Judas, the Betrayer. When they sat down to share the Passover that first Maundy Thursday evening, Judas had already made up his mind to betray Jesus, and had already taken money to do so. The plan was in place, the die was set.
Perhaps Judas wanted something more from Jesus--a revolution or an armed rebellion against the Romans. His nickname "Iscariot" has led some to believe he was connected to radical zealots, who would stop at nothing to overthrow Imperial Rome. It could be that when he realized Jesus wasn't going to lead an army, Judas became disenchanted and decided to turn on him.
There are other theories as to why Judas did what he did, but none of that is all that important. What's important is that even though Judas was sitting at the Last Supper with malice and betrayal in his heart, Jesus fed him. Jesus filled Judas with himself, knowing all that he knew about him.
When you stop and truly take this in, it's overwhelming. Jesus looked across at Judas as he broke the bread and lifted the cup, and he loved him... and he gave of himself to Judas... and surrendered the outcome.
Author Kathleen Norris writes:
"Betrayed, and with his fate unacknowledged even by those closest to him, he does not respond with anger or threats of retribution. He offers the gift of himself, his body and blood, asking only that we remember him."
You and I are called to share in this meal, too. And some of us betray Jesus every single day by the things we do and the things we leave undone. And yet, we are fed. We are loved. We are filled with Christ, who shows us what it means to love without strings attached.
May you be filled with that love today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.