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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

Not In Your Own Strength

According to Levi, the disciples left the Last Supper singing a hymn as Jesus led these men to the Mount of Olives, Matthew 26:30. In the hours that followed, Jesus unveiled a powerful message to those who were listening. “The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak, Matthew 26:41. The context of this comment helps explain why the disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray for an hour late at night. Each of these disciples were relying on their own strength.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight, Philippians 2:13.

While writing a letter to members of the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul appears to point to this spiritual principle. As a former Jewish zealot, Paul understood his own human limitations, Romans 3:10-12. Old Testament prophets spoke of man’s sinful tendencies, a nature that no one is immune. Rather than develop ungodly beliefs, Paul is clear that it is God who is the source of your desire and energy.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:13.

Two chapters later, the apostle Paul repeats himself with slightly different terminology. Instead of focusing on external actions that are visible, Paul concentrates on the internal. If human bodies are willing, it is Jesus living side of human hearts that empowers Christians to change for the better. Therefore, the next time you hear “it is Christ who gives you strength,” it is not you, but the Lord who is the human energizer.

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

Following in the Footsteps of Judas

As one of my college professors once proclaimed, “If you don’t know history, it is bound to repeat itself with the next generation.”  While reading the passage below, I began to wonder, what caused a disciple of Jesus to fall from God’s grace?  How could someone who spent nearly three years with Jesus betray Him in such a manner.  This topic requires further attention so that others do not follow in the footsteps of Judas.

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him, Mark 14:43-45.

According to John 12, Judas Iscariot served as the money changer.  In modern terms, Judas was the treasurer of the 12 disciples.  Whenever individuals donated to Jesus’ ministry, Judas was responsible for collecting and distributing this money to pay for food and travel during this three year span.  While it’s not mentioned, anyone healed by Jesus would have felt compelled to give something exchange for each miracle performed.  Although not everyone possessed money, the wealthy likely contributed a handsome sum.  As gifts and tithes started pouring in, Judas began to help himself like a corrupt politician.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it, John 12:4-6.

Based upon the passage above, careless use of expensive perfume set Judas off.  Enraged by a prostitute wasting this by anointing Jesus, Judas’ bitterness opened the door for the Devil to enter.  During the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Jesus confronts Judas, referring to him as the Devil.  This public rebuke in front of his peers pushed Judas over the edge, making a deal with religious leaders in exchange for money to hand Jesus over to them.  Whenever individuals allow greed, money or selfishness to influence decisions, integrity is lost.  If you want to avoid this slippery slope, take heed of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24.  Failing to do so may lead to following in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot.

by Jay Mankus

Draw Near

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is limited to a few select individuals.  After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden at the end of Genesis 3, intimacy with God was severed.  Thus, God revealed himself to the forefathers of Israel, prophets and some leaders to guide and direct their paths.  However, due to continued disobedience throughout several centuries, God decides go silent for 400 years serving as a transition for the New Testament.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Before Jesus arrived on to the scene, priests were used as a mediator between God and mankind.  To atone for sin, priests performed animals sacrifices with the shedding of blood to cleanse individuals, families and cities from their transgressions.  Without practicing this biblical principle, forgiveness is not obtained.  Therefore, drawing near to God can not occur unless repentance and contrition has been completed.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The new covenant introduced to his disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus eliminated the need for the Old Testament practice mentioned above.  Described as the Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice without blemish, Jesus laid down his own life so that in Him, we too might have life.  While worshiping God at a building, home or a temple is still a vital aspect of faith, you can draw near to God anywhere and anytime.  As you draw near, God’s grace is a free gift available to all approach the Lord with a sincere heart, eager to forgive sinners as far as the East is from the West.

by Jay Mankus

 

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