HOLY WEEK: thursday

Matthew 26:20-21. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ” I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Matthew 26: 31 Then Jesus told them, ” This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

I love a good dinner party. Good friends gathered around good food. Lingering around a candle lit table for hours… laughing, talking enjoying being together. It really is one of my favorite things. Eating with friends builds bonds, solidifies relationships, creates community. A special dinner out at a restaurant together is often the first step in a romantic relationship and often how a couple celebrates their love year after year. This last week my son face timed with a friend that he would normally enjoy breakfast with in his college cafeteria. They “met” in the morning, the time they would have had a meal together if their campus was still open. You may already have plans to eat Easter dinner together with family via ZOOM this Sunday- because lets face it – meals and extra special meals are important for many more reasons then getting nutrients into our bodies. And today’s account of one of Jesus last gatherings with his closest friends, a dinner party, is no different.

The disciples had made preparations, per Jesus request, for a special celebration of the Passover meal. It was happening all over the city of Jerusalem that Thursday night. He had instructed them on who to talk to and what to say to secure the location. The disciples “did as Jesus directed them” and by evening they were ready to celebrate. The next scene that is revealed in this story seems to fall toward the middle maybe even the end of the meal – the time when dinner party conversation moves from the highlights of the day, surface level stuff to deeper sometimes more challenging topics. This dinner party is no different and Jesus makes sure of that.

You can imagine the camera taking in a shot of the entire table, you can hear the buzz of conversation but not anything clearly. The camera lens narrows to the face and body of Jesus “reclining at the table”, his words become louder than the rest of the conversation and he changes the tone of the night completely. v. 21 – “And while they were eating, he said “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” The happy mood has shifted instantly to sadness – each disciple wondering if he is talking about them. We see Jesus explaining that the one who dips their bread in the cup at the same time as he would be the one. We see Judas acting and Jesus confirming it would indeed be him. Was there a collective sigh around the table? Did the disciples have any idea how Jesus would be betrayed? I can imagine them thinking.. ” well at least it’s not me!”

Oh but wait, remaining 11 lounging around the dinner table, Jesus has a word for you. And friends reading this, he has a word for us too. Judas wasn’t the only one that would need the saving grace of Jesus death and resurrection…we all would… ALL.

After Jesus shares the bread and the wine of the passover meal. After he has clearly identified his betrayer – he drops the next conversation stopping sentence…

“This very night you will ALL fall away on account of me.”

All… no one left out of this one. Not only would Judas betray Jesus , but his closest friends would desert him. And we see just that …. 25 verses later in chapter 26 after Jesus is arrested in the garden… these words….

“Then ALL the disciples deserted him and fled.”

Not one person, Not one faith full follower stuck around. They had JUST spent a beautiful evening celebrating a meal, enjoying one another’s company – bonds of friendship forged over several years of learning with and loving their friend and soon to be Savior Jesus.

Imagine hosting a dinner party for your closest friends. You laugh you enjoy the food. In your mind – its a really good night. They leave with heartfelt hugs and goodbyes. Later that night you happily snuggle in to bed and decide to take a quick peak at social media. As you scroll you notice your self tagged in post after post from these same friends… that had just been at your dining room table….

berating your cooking.

criticizing your home decor.

revealing comments you made that were meant for those ears only.

Ouch. betrayal of friends – its just about one of the hardest things in life. And Jesus knows it better then we ever will.

What simply amazes me is that the story doesn’t end here. Jesus choose to keep walking out the plan of his father despite the actions of his closest friends. His friends may now feel like enemies but the will of his father trumps all. His darkest night would be spent… alone. Oh what love… what amazing, beautiful, unthinkable love he showed his disciples and he shows us today.

I’ve been at the table with Jesus and darn it I’ve sometimes knowingly and unknowingly been the one to desert him. It shows up in the way I allow self centeredness to control my actions. It shows up when I allow fear to control my thoughts. It shows up when I judge others around me. It’s my ugly, sin filled self that sometimes pulls itself right up to the table with Jesus and dives into my meal thinking “surely not I Lord.” And he says ” yes, you.” But he doesn’t leave me. He doesn’t reply to my after dinner nasty facebook post in anger, or bitterness, or rage. He just obediently walks to the cross to die for the ugliness I’ve revealed. His one time death covers my lifetime of sin. Oh what love.

As you sit with Jesus today. As you reflect on that last meal…. allow yourself to be a part of the “ALL”. because those are the ones he died for.

Oh what love.

Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where he is.


lingering after a meal with friends and family…. the best.

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