Maundy Thursday of Holy Week – Luke 22:14-23

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

The altar rail at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church where I preach has twelve plaques set into it. Each one is carved with a symbol which is associated with one of the disciples. There are a set of keys for Peter. A cross in an X shape for Andrew. Supposedly he died on such a cross. Three shells are on James’ plaque. If you ever walk the Camino in Spain the way is marked with a shell sign. You are heading to a place where the bones of St. James were supposed to have been buried.

The plaques serve to remind us that when we come to the Lord’s Table and commune, we are really communing with all the saints. There is only one Lord’s Supper. It is like a party which we leave for a time and then return. It is the same party. It has been going on while we were gone. This meal is the singular meal which Jesus started on that night in an upper room two millennia ago. This meal will continue until it is transformed into the greater feast which is heaven. On the extreme right-hand side of the rail is a blank plaque. It has no symbol. Is the plaque for Judas. He also was there that night. He “dipped his hand into the bowl” with our Lord. The inclusion of Judas says something to us. Our Lord’s love is large, including even the men who killed him and even the man who betrayed him. While Judas would reject that, it was not a shortage of Jesus’ love which drove Judas to his end. But it also is a reminder to us. We too might commune and reject the very One Whose meal we consume. And so we come to that table confessing our sins, our faith, and His redemption for us. We recite the words, over and over. We cannot forget that Judas sat at this table too.

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