Blog for Day 282 Luke 22
October 8, 2021, 11:35 PM

Blog for Day 282 Luke 22

The best movies have tension in them. Will the two main characters overcome obstacles and ultimately find love together, or will the circumstances of the world keep them apart? Do the superheroes have enough strength and skills to overcome the terrible plot of the enemy who plots to destroy the world? T comes down, quite simply, to good vs. evil. And while we always root for good, we must be pretty fascinated by evil because it sells a lot of movie tickets! Or are we so sure of the power of good in the world that we are positive that good will always triumph?

I don’t think the disciples had that certainty when they had their last meal with Jesus. They weren’t aware, when it started, that it was going to be his last meal with them (until the resurrection, which is a different story altogether.) But we can read the way the details are being presented and we know the darkness that is present, and it changes the way we see this meal.

Most of us probably have the DaVinci painting in our heads of the Last Supper, a painting that does not accurately reflect how the disciples would have been lying on the floor or sitting against pillows as they ate together. The table would have been low and would have been at the center of their circle. While the painting gives us a clear picture of all the disciples in a spread out line, the reality would have been much more like your own Thanksgiving meal table—people reaching for the same thing at the same time, a pile of unleavened bread in the middle, a common cup for sharing at the end of the meal. Ok. Your Thanksgiving meal does not generally have a common cup (although there is a neat idea called the Blessing Cup[1] --see link below) but you know that our church has a common cup in non-Covid times, and that it comes directly from this supper with these disciples and with Jesus as the presider.

But back to the subtext. Everything in this reading seems slightly strange. A room is miraculously provided for the disciples at the busiest time of the year in Jerusalem. Jesus shares bread and wine with his disciples, but he tells them it is his body and blood. There had to be a LOT of questions about that, but no one was asking. I sense that the occasion was solemn, as if they disciples knew to listen and not to speak. Then Jesus speaks about one who will betray him as being among the disciples. Was Judas the obvious choice, I wonder? Or did the disciples look at the Sons of Thunder, who have already asked to sit beside Jesus in heaven? Maybe Peter, with his brash questions and stumbling ways was as being the betrayer.

As this conversation was going on, the disciples started to argue amongst themselves about who among them was the greatest (22:24-30), even as they sat there with the Son of God!!! Talk about moments that would produce deep pain and embarrassment later on!! In a way, they all betrayed Jesus at this moment, didn’t they? But Jesus speaks to them, quietly reinforcing the deepest messages of his life’s work—you will be servants, he tells them, in the same way that he has served them. He then confers on them the privilege of being judges over the tribes of Israel, quietly, seriously, and with confidence and faith in them.

While this was happening, while the conversation was going on, Judas participated as if he did not know. How deep the lie had to go in his soul. Was he scared about the mission ahead? Did he have any misgivings as he looked around that table at the men with whom he had traveled for three solid years, eating meals together, camping out together, praying together, healing together? Imagine that Jesus had given Judas the same power the disciples had to heal the sick and cast out demons, and now he is the one at the table, secretly battling a demon he cannot overcome.

What was that demon? Fear that Jesus was not the real Messiah? Fear that he, Judas, would be killed alongside Jesus? Anger that Jesus was merciful with people Judas did not like, maybe even hated? Was it Jesus’s treatment and acceptance of the broken people, of women who were marginalized, of those who were widowed and poor that angered Judas? Did Judas want more personal power in the world rather than being a member of the kingdom of God? Did he start to feel sick and nervous as the time came near for him to retrieve the troops who would take Jesus prisoner?

This drama of a last meal, not unlike a prisoner on death row, plays out with the backdrop of evil hovering in the distance. We trust, like the disciples, that Jesus is good, that Jesus is God! And yet….our humanity forces us to protect ourselves from suffering even as we see someone else unjustly being punished and suffering. In other words, while Jesus was taken from them by the weapon-wielding troops, they were afraid for themselves and their own safety.

For me, the most horrible moment comes when Peter, predictably, denies Jesus the third time. The cock crows—in Luke the cock only crows once and it signifies that the night is over, that the next day has come, that the time of death is near for Jesus. But then, just as the cock crows and Peter realizes what he has done, Jesus turns to look at him as he (Jesus) is being paraded, propelled, pushed and beaten on the pathway to the cross, and their eyes meet. Jesus knows. Jesus has always known.

Peter’s heart breaks open. He sobs with loss, anger, despair. And Jesus is not there to forgive him. For the first time in three years, Peter is truly, abjectly alone.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,




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