Pastor Z’s Sermons

THE ONE WHO ATE MY BREAD
John 13:1-30

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus sat down to a Passover meal with His disciples.  Never before had they gathered in a more intimate setting than on this occasion.  Because of his impending death Jesus knew this was the last time they would be together; if there was anything else Jesus wanted to teach them, any last words of encouragement, He had to do it tonight – this would be His last night.  Jesus was like a basketball coach sitting in the locker room with his team prior to the NCAA Championship Title Game.  The coach has mentored these young men for an entire season, watched them grow, rejoiced in their victories and helped them learn from their failures.  He has done all he could for the members of his team, but now it’s time for the big game.  The coach realizes this is his last chance to tell them something that will make a difference… the coach knows the importance of this last meeting in the locker room.  I imagine that’s how Jesus felt that night.  The gravity of these last few minutes with them could not be emphasized enough.

Sitting around the table that night, the disciples were clueless as to the events about to transpire and thus did not grasp the significance of this time together with Jesus.  To them, it was just another Passover meal.

Do we ever approach the Lord’s Supper in this same manner?  Is it just another church service?  Or do we grasp the significance of what happened that night in Jerusalem, and what happens this night in this sanctuary around this table?

That night in Jerusalem, as Jesus looked around at His followers, He saw the eyes of one who was already planning to betray Him.  Even as he broke bread with Jesus that night, Judas knew he would turn his back on Jesus.

My enemies wonder in malice when I will die, and my name perish.  And when they come to see me, they utter empty words, while their hearts gather mischief; when they go out, they tell it abroad.  All who hate me whisper about me; they imagine the worst for me.  They think that a deadly things has fastened on me, that I will not rise up again from where I lie, Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me. (Psalm 41:5-10)

Jesus quotes the Psalmist when he speaks of Judas to the other disciples: “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”  Jesus, as He so often did with His disciples, pointed to the Scriptures and how the events surrounding His life fulfilled that Scripture.  In this particular case, the Scriptures were fulfilled in the person of Judas Iscariot.

It’s easy for us to view Judas with disdain – to see him as a criminal, a scoundrel and a traitor.  Jesus had humbled Himself and washed His disciples feet – yea, even the feet of Judas.  Jesus acknowledged that even though those who came to His table that night were made clean by what He did for them, one of those present remained unclean.  Jesus knew Judas’ heart, and that heart of darkness denied Judas from true fellowship at that meal.

The fellowship at Lord’s Table that night was about more than just sitting down to another Passover meal.  The fellowship was about mending relationships: the relationship of God to man, and of man to God.  The relationship between the Creator and His creation was going to change as a result of the events of that night and the following afternoon.  That change would be ratified three days later as Christ, who laid down His life, would take it up again.  The significance of this table-fellowship cannot be denied.  If it weren’t for this meal, we would never know what it means to be forgiven; we would never know what it means to be washed clean; we would never know what it means to be loved by God

When we gather at the Lord’s Table, we remember that fellowship meal between Jesus and His followers.  We remember how He broke bread with them, telling them the bread was His body broken for them, and how He shared the cup telling them it was His blood poured out for the forgiveness of their sins.  We can come to the table in full awareness of the significance of this gathering, or we, like the disciples, can view it as just another Passover meal, or just another ritual of the church.  We can, like the disciples that night, miss the whole point of the meal.  We can also, like Judas, approach the meal knowing in our hearts that we plan on turning our backs on the One who calls us together here; knowing that what Christ has done won’t change a thing in our lives.

See folks, if we don’t come to the table expecting change, if we don’t come searching for forgiveness, if we don’t come seeking to be brought back into relationship with God, then we ought not come at all.  When Christ breaks bread with us, He is humbling Himself and bowing down before us to wash our feet and make us clean.  But if we know that we plan on going against His Word when we leave this place, then we are no different that Judas, harboring a dark and terrible secret within our heart; knowing that though our feet are made clean, we cannot wait to jump back into the mud and get them dirty again!

Hear again the words of the 41st Psalm:

And when they come to see me, they utter empty words, while their hearts gather mischief… Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.

What does Jesus see when we fellowship around His table this night?  Does He ever look at me and see this prophecy fulfilled again by a modern day Judas?  Does the mischief in my heart result in empty words as I partake in just another ritual?  Or does He look at me and see someone who is grateful that my Master is willing to wash the dirt from my feet?

What does He see when He looks at you?  The significance of this meal is greater than anything you could ever imagine.  We can listen to the our Master, our Coach, and accept and appreciate what He gives us this night, or we can leave the locker room unchanged and try to win on our own.  But our coach is the only One who can carry us to victory.  We need to pay heed to Him.

We need Jesus to wash the dirt of this world from our feet, to wash the stain of sin from our souls.  So let us approach His table with a true understanding of the significance of that night so long ago, and let us realize the gravity of our fellowship this night as well.

After receiving the bread, so the Scriptures tell us, Judas “Immediately went out.  And it was night.”  John’s Gospel says, “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”  Shall we, like Judas, eat His bread and immediately head out into the darkness, or live by His truth and come into the light?

It all depends on what I want.  Is the true desire of my heart to come to the table, spend a few minutes with Jesus and feel good about myself for doing so, and then leave here to do what I want to do?  Am I satisfied with simply being one who eats His bread, or is my true desire to be changed?

This is not just another ritual of the church.  This is the Lord’s Supper.  Your table is ready, and your Server awaits.

Amen.