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The Other Last Supper

When the average church goer hears a message on the Last Supper, minds try to visualize Jesus’ last meal with his 12 disciples, Mark 14:18-26. Yet, there is another last supper that contains a similar sad ending. If you turn in your Bible’s to 1 Samuel 28, you’ll find a desperate king who has been abandoned by God. When individuals decide to stop listening to God or don’t believe in the Bible anymore, God will depart to find another believer to complete His will.

So now, I pray you, listen also to the voice of your handmaid and let me set a morsel of food before you, and eat, so you may have strength when you go on your way. 23 But he said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he heeded their words. So he arose from the ground and sat upon the bed. 24 The woman had a fat calf in the house; she hurried and killed it, and took flour, kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread. 25 Then she brought it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose up and went away that night, 1 Samuel 28:22-25.

In the case of Saul, he began to make things up along the way, deviating from the Torah. If you wander away from the Lord long enough, breaking commands in the Bible won’t alarm you. Subsequently, when Israel was losing a battle against the Philistines, Saul consulted with a medium to figure out what to do. When this witch realized Saul hadn’t eaten for while, a meal was prepared. This was Saul’s last supper before taking his own life.

When Judas, His betrayer, saw that [Jesus] was condemned, [Judas was afflicted in mind and troubled for his former folly; and] with remorse [with little more than a selfish dread of the consequences] he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, Saying, I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. They replied, What is that to us? See to that yourself. And casting the pieces of silver [forward] into the [Holy Place of the [b]sanctuary of the] temple, he departed; and he went off and hanged himself, Matthew 27:3-5.

While Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death on a cross, Judas Iscariot was overwhelmed by guilt. If it wasn’t enough to be exposed by Jesus as a betrayer, Judas realized that the money wasn’t worth it. During the last Supper, Jesus suggested that Judas was handed over to Satan. Thus, a demonic spirit influenced Judas to hang himself. If you want your Last Supper to have a happy ending, make sure you make the right decision, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

From Community to Chaos and Back

The final event of Jesus’ earthly ministry is the Last Supper. This meal celebrating the Jewish Passover was the last event with all 12 of his disciples present. What began as the very first communion service, ended in speculation as Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would soon betray Jesus. This pivotal gathering started with a spirit of community, but ended in chaos.

And as My Father has appointed a kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer on you [the privilege and decree], 30 That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, 32 But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren, Luke 22:29-32.

The first person to crack was Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of Jesus’ ministry. Poisoned by betrayal and greed, Judas agreed to hand Jesus over to Jewish religious leaders. While this was going on, Peter was confronted by 3 different individuals about his connection with Jesus. Each time, Peter vehemently denied his association with Jesus. As the cock cried three times, a spirit of conviction and remorse sent Judas into the desert to take his own life.

And He said to them, When I sent you out with no purse or [provision] bag or sandals, did you lack anything? They answered, Nothing! 36 Then He said to them, But now let him who has a purse take it, and also [his provision] bag; and let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy a sword. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must yet be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted and classed among the wicked (the outlaws, the criminals); for what is written about Me has its fulfillment [has reached its end and is finally settled], Luke 22:35-37.

Chaos is a state of confusion, disarray, havoc, mayhem, tumult, and upheaval. As Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified on a cross, the Savior of the world was lost. Or was he as the day turned to night, a great earthquake tore the temple curtain into two, and the dead began to walk through the streets of Jerusalem like a scene from the Walking Dead. Out of this chaos, God raised Jesus from the dead three days later. This is the reason why Christians celebrate Easter Sunday as God restored order by uniting a community of believers through faith.

by Jay Mankus

Let the Thief Steal No More

The Greek word for thief is κλέφτης. When translated into English, this term refers to a bandit, lifter or robber. Character traits include going into a stealth mode, taking something of value when no one is looking. In the biblical case of Judas Iscariot, he was the treasurer of Jesus’ earthly ministry. As donations began to flow in following a plethora of miracles, some scholars have suggested that Judas began to skim off the top prior to betraying Jesus.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:26-28.

In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul unveils a spiritual mastermind. Like the Joker in Batman, this archenemy will do anything in his power to win at all costs. If you go back and examine Matthew 4:1-11, this is exactly what the Devil does to trick Jesus into giving into temptation. Despite this failed attempt, every day the thief steals from followers of Christ. Using a series of subtle forms of compromise, the Devil is bent on seeing people of faith fall away from God.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)., John 10:10.

The disciple whom Jesus loved uses a similar expression to warn first century followers of this spiritual thief. As the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, the Devil has 3 main objectives daily. First, to steal the word of God sown in a new believer’s heart, Matthew 13:19. Second, to kill the dreams of those seeking to reach self-actualization, Jeremiah 29:11. Finally, to destroy any spiritual relationship, Luke 10:38-42, that will help uplift you when you fail. Regardless of your current circumstances, let the thief steal no more by covering your friends with a hedge of protection via prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Trapped

On the surface, I’m pretty good hiding how I feel.  Perhaps, a defense mechanism from my years as an athlete, I often go into survivor mode, pushing forward regardless of the pain.  This psychosis like state led me to complete a high school cross country race after spraining my ankle during the first mile.  Unfortunately, when I crossed the finish line, I collapsed ripping my ankle from its tendons, twisting the born ninety degrees in the wrong direction.  This is the first time in my life where I felt trapped, unsure of what my future held.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

The term trap refers to being corned, shut in, on the verge of being captured.  This imprisoned state is where many believers find themselves, stuck in spiritual quicksand, unable to break free.  Those who visit this dark place typically return from time to time, caught in a vicious cycle.  Sometimes a friend will come to your rescue, able to pull you back into a community of believers.  Other situations require a wrestling match, claiming the promises of God from the Bible in prayer.  Unfortunately, some people never escape, deceived by the Devil or doubt, succumbing to a downward spiral of depression.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2 Peter 1:3.

Even Jesus’ own disciples felt trapped by the worries of this life.  Judas Iscariot committed suicide, overwhelmed by guilt that sealed his fate.  Peter who was a spiritual rock, publicly denied knowing Jesus three times, resulting in tears and wounded ego.  However, Jesus restored Peter following his resurrection in John 21:15-23.  At some point, the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter that God has given us everything we need in life to overcome being ensnared and trapped by sin.  Therefore, don’t lose hope like Judas and those who succumb negative voices inside their heads.  Rather, reach out to Jesus so that freedom will be experienced today.

by Jay Mankus

Haunted by What Could Have Been

When the outcome what you were expecting does not become reality, hearts and minds tend to explore why.  There may be an obvious explanation like a more deserving person who received that which you desired.  However, there will be many outcomes that leave you scratching your head, dumbfounded by fate.  The persistent will not give up, working harder each day to alter their current course.  Others may press on a little longer just in case God changes his mind like Abraham’s prayer below.  Unfortunately, the deflated, tired and weak give up hope, haunted by what could have been.

Abraham approached [the Lord] and said, “Will You really sweep away the righteous (those who do right) with the wicked (those who do evil)? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous [people] within the city; will You really sweep it away and not spare it for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing—to strike the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right [by executing just and righteous judgment]?” 26 So the Lord said, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty righteous [people], then I will spare the entire place for their sake,” Genesis 18:23-26.

Judas Iscariot was a fortunate individual, chosen by the son of God to be one of 12 disciples.  Based upon a few details in each of the four gospels, this Judas was the treasurer of Jesus’ earthly ministry for 3 years.  Some translations refers to Judas overseeing the money bag, containing the collection of tithes by individuals blessed, healed and saved by Jesus.  According to the passage below, when a woman wasted an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus, this set Judas off.  Perhaps, this was the last straw, convincing Judas to betray Jesus.  As religious leaders celebrated Jesus’ capture, Judas withdrew to the desert to hang himself.  Guilt, remorse and shame influenced Judas to commit suicide, missing out on starting the first century church.

Then Mary took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard, and she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, the one who was going to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and [the money] given to the poor?” Now he said this, not because he cared about the poor [for he had never cared about them], but because he was a thief; and since he had the money box [serving as treasurer for the twelve disciples], he used to pilfer what was put into it, John 12:3-6.

Last week a New Jersey woman went to complain at school after her daughter was cut from the cheerleading squad.  Instead of using this rejection as inspiration to work harder to make it next year, this defiant mother convinced the board of education to force the team to accept everyone who tries out.  What would have happened if Michael Jordan’s dad or mom forced his high school coach to not cut him?  America may not have been able to watch one of the greatest NBA players of all time.  Thus, instead of being haunted by what could have been.  Dig down deep into your soul, ask the Lord for resolve and give everything that you have so that God’s destiny for you will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

Finding the Weak Link

Whenever law enforcement or the FBI wants to bring down a powerful criminal, perhaps they might start with surveillance.  After a period of time, officials will search for a small fry who has access to the big fish.  When the weak link is identified, this individual is pressured to provide important information.  If this person does not cooperate, threats of prosecution often persuade them to go along.

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him, Mark 14:1.

Early in the first century, religious officials realized they could not outwit Jesus, so they began to secretly probe his twelve disciples.  During this process, the chief priests identified someone they could influence.  Miffed by Jesus’ waste of perfume, the treasurer Judas Iscariot, was tweaked enough to turn to the dark side.  Tempted by thirty pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray Jesus with a kiss.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly, Mark 14:4-5.

Regardless of how strong someone may appear, each possess flaws, imperfections and weaknesses.  Thus, no one is exempt from being exposed as a weak link.  Satan knows your kryptonite, scanning back and forth throughout the earth, waiting to pounce on the isolated, vulnerable and weak.  Therefore, be on guard, armed with the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-20 so when the days of evil come, you will be ready to defend yourself.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Your Edge

Staying on top, being the best at any job, skill or trade isn’t easy.  If you are fortunate to reach the summit of a profession, there is always someone new, stronger or younger ready to take your position.  In the film Top Gun, Cougar was the number one fighter pilot in his squadron before a mid-air altercation with a bogey caused him to lose his edge.  Thus, Maverick played by Tom Cruise and Goose, Anthony Edwards, were waiting in the wings to take over.

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?” – Mark 7:18

In  the first century, the twelve disciples were the Cougar among spiritual leaders.  Although Luke 10:1 refers to 72 others, a minor league for training to become elite disciples, these twelve men were chosen to be part of Jesus’ flight school.  Nonetheless, their exposure to Jesus’ miracles, teaching and wisdom caused their hearts to become numb.  Thus, Jesus goes off on their flawed thinking, trying to reprogram their minds set on human traditions.  When Judas Iscariot lost his edge, committing suicide following his betrayal of Jesus, Matthias was selected to take his place in Acts 1:26.

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” – Mark 7:21-23.

Today, America’s churches is searching for a new Top Gun, to soar above the sinful nature lurking to attack hearts.  This internal battle has caused many great rising stars to crash and burn before reaching their full potential, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6.  In the skies, there are spiritual bogeys, demons, evil spirits and powers of darkness hoping to shoot you down.  Despite these adversaries, Jesus has equipped his crew with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  May the leaders of the future be armed, 1 Peter 4:1, with the right stuff to maintain their edge fueled by strength in Christ,  Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

And Then… It Was Night

There is something unusual that occurs as the sun goes down.  Perhaps people think that no one will see their actions, hidden by the dark.  This mentality is nothing new as even first century Christians fell prey to this flawed mindset, Romans 13:11-13.

When the night arrived, Judas Iscariot left the Last Supper.  Caught off guard by Jesus’ accusation of betrayal, a thought conceived in his mind was acted upon.  Unseen by everyone except God, Judas was exposed by his disingenuous kiss on Jesus’ check.

Whether you’re battling demons of addiction, bad habits or poor choices, don’t let the temptations of night knock your off track.  Although this is easier said then done, the environment you choose will be influenced by how well you listen and learn, Matthew 13:1-9.  Follow in the steps of Romans 13:14 so that when the night arrives, your soul will be prepared to ward off evil spirits of your past.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Take It Personally

verbal abuse photo: EMPLOYEE ABUSE employment-verbal-abuse.jpg

In an ideal setting, everyone would love to be admired, cherished and highly valued.  However, in a fallen world, with individuals daily carrying around dirty laundry and excess baggage, receiving a desired response is unlikely.  Therefore, if an act of kindness, gentle reply or word of encouragement goes unnoticed, don’t take it personally.  According to Exodus 7:3, sometimes God will harden a person’s heart, preventing individuals from being civil.

When Jesus first sent off his disciples in Matthew 10, taking off their preverbal training wheels, he tries to prepare these 12 men for what to expect in life.  Beginning in Matthew 10:17-23, you could probably hear a pin drop, likely caught off guard by the hatred Jesus predicted.  Maybe this is where Judas Iscariot began to get cold feet, thinking to himself, “I didn’t sign up for this!”  I guess you can assume Jesus is trying to separate the followers from leaders, using a similar strong message in Luke 14:25-27 to narrow down his core group.

Unfortunately, the old saying of “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is a lie.  When I taught, I could have a dozen compliments from faculty and students, yet that one negative email from a parent is what I thought about, erasing all the good I received earlier in the day.  Criticism, harsh comments and tasteless remarks can get under your skin, leaving a heart torn in two.  When words feel like knife wounds, verbally poisoning your soul, take your burden to the Lord, Matthew 11:28.  May the words of Psalm 34:18-19 help you not to take future replies personally.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Kisses

Steven Curtis Chapman once jokingly sang about being in love or having the flu bug during his Great Adventure Concert Tour.  Likewise, Psalm 85:10 describes 4 attributes, which when joined together develop chemistry.  When love and faithfulness connect, its as if righteousness and peace kiss.

Daily emotions rise and fall, leaving behind periods of ecstasy and agony.  While God’s love never fails, 1 Corinthians 13:8, human love is similar to Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus by a kiss. Matthew 26:48-49.  The side effects of Genesis 3:17-19 has turned the love of many ice cold like Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10.  On the outside there are signs of warmth, but internally the heart has been corrupted, Jeremiah 17:9.

Beside the fallen nature of mankind, Romans 3:23, there are traces of this spiritual element.  Honest and truthful words are like a kiss on the lips, Proverbs 24:26.  Fellowship with other believers brings out a kindred spirit, Acts 4:32-35.  The theological virtues of charity, faith and hope, 1 Corinthians 13:13, make love possible.  Finally, the cherry on the top is Colossians 3:13-14, making spiritual kisses a reality through the power of the Holy Spirit!  On this Mother’s Day, be a vehicle of adoration, passing on the love of Jesus to all you encounter!

by Jay Mankus

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