Matthew 26:17-29 (ESV)

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

In this passage, Matthew describes the very first Lord’s Supper. The disciples wanted to prepare the Passover meal to share with Jesus, so they asked him where they could do this. Jesus prearranged this celebration with his friends. He knew his time was short and kept the place a secret to thwart his enemies’ attempts to find him until after this important meal. The disciples got everything in order, and Jesus ate together with the twelve. It was during the meal that Jesus made the shocking announcement, “One of you will betray me.” Interestingly, none of the disciples said, “Of course, he must mean Judas.” They had no idea whom Jesus was talking about, and each one assumed they could be the “betrayer.” When Judas finally asked, “Is it I?” Jesus answered him with “You have said so.” Judas must have been surprised, but he went ahead with the evil act anyway. How sad for Jesus that the one to hand him over to torture, crucifixion, and death was his so-called friend. Yet Jesus declared these things were all part of a predetermined plan. Nevertheless, Judas was fully responsible for his sin and would have been better off had he never been born.

The Scripture foretold all these events, yet Judas was still accountable to God for what he did. We often wonder whether those who commit sinful acts that are clearly a part of God’s predetermined plan will be excused, since God knew or even ordained what would happen. The answer is “absolutely not.” Even though God is able to take sinful and evil acts and work them together for his glory, the sinner is in no way “off the hook.” God is able to bring good from bad situations without neglecting justice. Judas was not an honest follower, and he would suffer the consequences of rejecting Jesus. The other disciples addressed Jesus as “Lord.” But in verse 25, Judas addresses him as “rabbi.” Judas could no longer call Jesus the Lord. If you are a Christian today, thank God that Jesus is more than just your teacher; he is your Lord. Pray for your friends and family members who still see him as merely a great teacher. God can enable them to see Jesus for whom he really is, just as he allowed you to see. Keep praying! You never know what God has planned.