Did Judas Take Communion Before Betraying Jesus?

A Few Say That He Did But What Do the Scriptures Reveal?





T he very short answer to this question is no, Judas did not take communion. But some now insist that he fully partook. How may one employ Scripture to demonstrate the truth on this to others?

There are a few things to take into account here:

Judas Went To The Chief Priests Before The Last Supper.

Then one of the Twelve - the one called Judas Iscariot -went to the chief priests (Matthew 26:14).

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. (Mark 14:10).

Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:16).

Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:3-6).

John tells us more:

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me." His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly." But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. (John 13:21-29).

So Judas, the treasurer, being disappointed at the ointment not being sold for money, sought another way to satisfy his greed; this happened before the Lord's Supper inauguration of Holy Communion had taken place, although all had eaten some of the supper by this point.

Luke presents these things a little differently:

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:14-18).

Let us be clear that it is not disputed this was the Last Supper/Passover or that Judas at least partly partook of it. The statement about not drinking the fruit of the vine in this Passover sequence, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God, is also found in the Lord's Supper sequence in Matthew 26:29 and Mark 14:25.

Now we must go a little further in Luke 22:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!" They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. (Luke 22:19-23).


Luke Tends to List Events by Subject, Rather Than in Time Order.


In Luke's gospel, several incidents are recounted according to subject matter rather than being presented in the order in which they actually occurred. This is clear in the narrative of the baptism of Christ. Luke mentions the story of John the Baptist, his sermons, his preaching for repentance by baptism, and his baptizing of the multitude in the Jordan River. He then mentions that King Herod arrested John the Baptist and shut him up in prison, because John had rebuked him for his marriage to Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. It is well known, as mentioned in the gospels, that Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan before he was shut up in prison, and before John's martyrdom which followed his imprisonment. However, Luke, after mentioning the imprisonment of John, continues saying, "When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him." (Luke 3:21-22).

It is evident that Saint Luke wanted it to be understood that Jesus was baptized in the presence of the multitude, who were baptized by John before John's imprisonment. However, he mentions this incident when he started speaking about the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ministry of Christ followed His baptism and His going out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Before this, the physician Luke retold the story of John the Baptist, including what Herod had done to him. So, he plainly adhered to the subject matter rather than to the sequential order of the events. In other words, Luke tends to narrate a whole subject before shifting on to another. This is not unusual, and does not contradict the accounts of biblical events presented by the other evangelists; this is simply Luke's manner of writing. The same applies to Luke's narrative of the Last Supper. He mentions the betrayal of Judas after he had written of the events relating to both the Jewish Passover and the Lord's Supper. As a consequence, some believe that Judas was present during the institution of the Eucharist; but the gospel of Luke does not mention that Judas participated in the Lord's Supper, or that he was present. Putting all of the Gospel accounts together, Judas was plainly not present when eucharist/communion was inaugurated (from its foundation in the Passover, of course). Only the Lukan account, then, is open to a different reading but understanding Luke's writing style helps us to understand better.

Okay, back to the Lord's Supper:

Now, the very next thing that happens after the dividing of the cup among them is the breaking of bread and distributing it to the disciples. By the way, 'dividing of the cup' would simply mean that a large cup or chalice contained all the wine which was divided into smaller drinking vessels/chalices for each disciple. It is here that some believe that with Judas' hand on the table, he must have fully partaken of the first communion, but we must look closer.
But there is an admitted difficulty, here, in the fact that Judas' hand was plainly on the table at the point at which Jesus explains what the bread is (His body given for them) and what the cup is (the blood of the new covenant/testament).

But we should carefully note that Jesus has not, at this point, yet told the disciples to eat the bread or drink the cup; Jesus only distributes it and makes it ready to be partaken.
So Luke here seems to offer a summarized view, based on various topics, rather than a detailed point-by-point strict time-sequence account. If we only had Luke we might well believe that it was after inauguration of communion that Judas left; we just have to understand the way that Luke writes, placing a lower priority on the time sequence of events; then we must look at the other Gospel accounts.

After the foot washing, they come back to the table for the sop dipping and fellowship and also for the comment that one is to betray Jesus, who is the one who dipped the sop with the Lord Jesus. Indications are that it was at this point that Jesus tells Judas that it is indeed Judas who is the traitor and that what Judas is about to do, he should do quickly.


What is a 'Sop'?


Okay, it is time to define exactly what a 'sop' is:

This refers to something which is dipped/put into a sauce, paste or liquid. Today in the UK we have 'dips' which might be a sort of sauce, salad dressing, or possibly humus. A piece of bread, or maybe crispbread, or a cracker, is dipped into such a mixture, this sometimes serves as an appetizer before a full meal is served, though it sometimes may occur after a main meal. Whatever is dipped into the mixture is the 'sop.' In the case of Judas, if this was bread or unleavened bread, his dipping of this obviously did not constitute the ceremonial 'taking of bread' which only occurred much later.

Judas leaves immediately after receiving and dipping the sop, the prelude to the partaking of the ceremonial Lord's supper that was already prepared and set in front of the disciples ready to be partaken.


Placing Judas At The Last Supper:


When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me - one who is eating with me." They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely you don't mean me?" "It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. "Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:17-26).

To summarize, we can place Judas at the Passover, and at the table, and at his dipping of the sop. But we should note that sop-dipping is not part of the Lord's Supper/Communion! But we cannot place Judas as eating or drinking the communion elements. It was after the meal, and the foot washing, that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper; Judas was no longer there by then. The remainder of the apostles listened to some more preaching from Jesus and then sung a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives.

Fully backing up the explanation which we are developing, John states the following:

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: 'He who shared my bread has turned against me.' "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me." His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly." But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him." (John 13:2-31).

It appears that The Book of John gives all the sequence, including the foot washing that the other Gospels do not give (with the exception of the account of the Lord's supper, which is instituted after Judas is gone out, after receiving the 'sop'). Also, Judas would clearly not have heard Jesus' expounding of the truth of the Gospel between John 13:31 and John 18:1. Then Jesus prays in the garden, while his disciples slept. At this juncture, Judas guides the Lord's enemies to Jesus.

So all the indications are that Judas was initially present at the Last Supper and did eat at least the first part of the meal, if not most of the meal, but after breads were dipped into 'dips,' or sauces, Judas immediately left. Judas was clearly not present as the full meaning of the New Testament/New Covenant was expounded by Jesus.


Final Sequence of Events


So we may arrive at a sequence of events of that fateful evening:

1. Judas went to the Chief priests to betray Jesus for money (Matt. 26:14; Mark 14:10; Luke 23:2-6).
2. The disciples all ate at least the initial part of the Passover Supper (Mark 14:17; Luke 22:14).
3. After the intial part of the Passover Supper was ended, the devil puts it in Judas' heart to betray Jesus; Jesus washes all their feet (John 13:2-11).
4. They were told that they were not all clean, a clear reference to Judas. (John 13:11).
5. All, or a few of them, sat back down at the table to dip sops. (John 13:12, 28).
6. The disciples are then told that one of them would betray Jesus. (John 13:21).
7. They ask, including Judas, "Is it I?" and who it was. (Matt. 26:25; John 13:22-25).
8. They are told that the one that dips his 'sop' with Jesus would be His betrayer. (John 13:26; Mark 14:18-20).
9. Judas is told that he is the one and given the 'sop.' (John 13:27, 30).
10. After being given the sop, Judas IMMEDIATELY goes out from them and goes to the chief priests. (John 13:30).
11. Jesus institutes the Lord's Supper/Christian Communion with the eleven. (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). Judas is no longer present.
12. Jesus Expounds upon the meaning of His life and the Gospel (John 13:31 to John 18:1).
13. The eleven sing a Hymn (Mark 14:46).
14. The eleven go out to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1; Luke 22:39).
15. Judas takes Jesus' enemies to Him, betraying him with a kiss (Matt. 26:47; Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47, 48; Acts 1:16; John 18:2-5).
16. Judas repents and hangs himself (Matt. 27:3; Acts 1:25).


Conclusion


Judas was indeed present at the Last Supper, but Judas was not present at the full revelation of its meaning. He heard that there would be ceremonial bread and wine, probably saw it, but never actually partook of that bread and wine as a religious expression of faith in Jesus because he had already left before that stage was reached. In short, it seems clear that Judas had no part in the first ever Christian communion service.
Robin A. Brace. November 30th, 2011.

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