I have a question for you. Did Judas participate in the Lord’s Supper when Christ initiated it? Did he eat of the bread and drink of the wine?
The Gospel of Matthew explains:
20 Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord ?” 23 And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24 “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed ! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi ?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.” 26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat ; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26)
The text does not specify when Judas left the group, if it were before eating or not but the same scenario is explained in another of the Gospels, in Mark 14:17-25. It is also explained in Luke 22:14-23. Actually, none of these passages explains when Judas left. The moment when Judas leaves is explained in the Gospel of John. The difference in this Gospel and the others is that the moment Judas leaves is revealed but the actual moment when Christ institutes the Lord’s Supper as the sign of the New Covenant is not revealed. The institution of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospel of John is in chapters 13-17. These chapters reveal the final teaches of the Savoir to His disciples, culminated with the High Priestly prayer for the disciples in chapter 17. Let’s read what John reveals about Judas’ departure.
21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast “; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately ; and it was night. (John 13)
The disciples sat around the table, preparing to take part in the Lord’s Supper and Judas was right there with them. We realize from the context that Judas ate and drank along with the other disciples.
I am curious to know why the person who asked me this question would wonder if Judas ate and drank or not. I do not think anything would have changed if he were to eat and drink or not to eat and drink. In other words, if he took the Lord’s Supper or not. Judas did not take communion with a sincere heart. He just did it because that is what everyone else was doing. He wanted to be in line with the rest of the disciples, in other words, he wanted to keep up appearances. That is not much different that the way many people today take the Lord’s Supper, more as a tradition that actually knowing its purpose. I remember when I was a child, my parents would take me to the Orthodox Church to receive Communion. They would motivate me by promising that I would get honey from the priest as long as I did not eat anything before going to church. My parents did not know the significance of Communion because no one had ever taught them. Jesus initiated Communion to be a time of personal reflection and self examination. The problem of turning Communion into a routine without significance is nothing new. Some of believers during the first Century faced the same problem. That is why St. Paul writes what he does to the Church in Corinth.
18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 20 Therefore when you meet together , it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first ; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What ! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink ? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing ? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you. 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread ; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood ; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come. (I Corinthians 11)
If you have questions about Communion, I recommend that you read the following articles:
- What is Communion?
- What Communion is not.
- Can you use leavened bread for Communion?
- Who is not allowed to take Communion?
- Who is allowed to take Communion?
May the Lord help us take Communion in a worthy manner so that we will not be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Translation by: Erik Brewer