TRUE VS FALSE DISCIPLES – CELEBRATING THE COMMUNION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Matt. 26:17-22 17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 18 And 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 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. 20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. 21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”
Overall Background: The passage we just read is one of the most somber, sorrowful, and grim chapters in the entire Bible. The time had come for Jesus to go to the cross. This was not unexpected; this was not spur of the moment; this was prophesied; this was written centuries beforehand; this was the very reason that the second person of the Godhead came into this world as the Son of Man. His disciples knew that something was up but they were infantile in their faith and understanding. Make no mistake that they were saved – except one – but their eyes were not yet fully open. Jesus had tried to explain what was about to come several times but they still didn’t get it.
About this time, there were two major holidays of the people of Israel – the feast of the Passover and the feast of the Unleavened Bread. Every nation has its holidays. In America we have the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and so on. These are man-made holidays and we enjoy them but there is only nation for whom God established their holidays – Nation of Israel. He gave them 7 holidays to be a prophetic reminder of the coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “feasts” is “to keep an appointment.” God made these appointments with His people to meet with them at certain times.
Jesus took this opportunity to reveal to His disciples that He was the fulfillment of the feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the Passover. Not only that, He also used this opportunity to reveal to them who was a true disciple and who was a false disciple.
Application: This morning as we hear this message, let us not only see who Christ is but also who you are – are you a true disciple or are you a false disciple? Are you truly following Christ or are you playing Christianity? And if you are a false disciple, let the Holy Spirit turn you around to the truth.
We will divide up this account into 3 parts: what took place before, during, and after the meal.
I. WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE MEAL?
Background: We have to start reading at Matt. 26:6-9 6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. (Now who was this woman? When you place all 4 gospels side by side, like Paul Harvey, they tell us the rest of the story. This woman is none other than Mary the sister of Lazarus—whom Jesus raised from the dead. She had a terrible past until she met Jesus. She was so grateful that she sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha her sister complained about her. She loved Jesus. Somehow she understood that his death was significant.
What happened when she anointed Jesus’ head and feet with the costly oil? 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” (Now Matthew does not identify the disciple. Once again, you have to turn to John’s gospel to get the rest of the story.) John 12:4-6 4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
What a contrast between Mary and Judas! Mary was grateful for what Jesus had done for her. Judas was a thief. He was a disciple in name only but his life was never touched by the truth. All he could see was profit and loss. All he could see was opportunity. Unlike Mary, he never saw who Jesus was. Judas was a natural man, described in I Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
What did Jesus do? He commended Mary and rebuked the disciples, especially Judas, for troubling her. He said in Luke 7:47 “But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
How did Judas react? 14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
How tragic! So close to the truth and yet so far away!
II. WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE MEAL?
Matt. 26:20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.Application: Has the Holy Spirit of God opened your eyes? Are you a Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, willing to break a costly perfume at the Master’s feet, grateful for what He has done for you? Or, are you a Judas cynical, critical, negative, stealing from God, blinded by the lures of the world?
Background: What Jesus was about to celebrate with His disciples was something the Jewish people had done for 2000 years at the time. It was in accordance with God’s commandment to the people of Israel. God had commanded them through Moses that when they came into the land of promise, they were to observe this feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread – the Seder. And if their children were to ask, “why?” They had to explain it to them. By the way, to this day, when the Jewish people celebrate Passover, the youngest child repeats the ritual question in the – Ma Nishtana? “Why is this night different from all the other nights?” Then the family reads from the Haggadah.
You can imagine the disciples sitting down to go over these rituals and customs. Everything is ready – the approved lamb had been taken to the temple and slain. Then, it had been brought back and roasted and placed on the table. Also on the table was unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and now wine has been added to the meal. The disciples have no idea what is about to come.
Jesus begins the meal with these words—21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”
What a dramatic scene? They were exceedingly sorrowful. One of them was a traitor. Jesus answered them in verse 23 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
How tragic? Having dipped his hand with Christ in the dish, he continued on the course to betray him. His mind was made up.
Application: Are you coming to church, taking part in the activities, serving in ministry, and even partaking of the Communion, and yet your life is unchanged.
Once again you have to turn to John 13 to get the rest of the story – 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” And Judas left.
When a person repeatedly rejects the invitation of grace to receive Jesus as Savior, he/she is opening himself/herself to Satan.
Application: Have you repeatedly rejected God’s call of salvation in your life? Are you leaving the door open way for the enemy to come in?
What did Jesus do at this point? Now the real feast begins. Matt. 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed (This is the prayer that is made to this day – Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth – Again – Jesus is talking about His own death and resurrection to come) and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
A Jewish custom originated about 3 centuries ago that puts three breads side by side. Then they reach down and pick up the middle bread and broke it. Isn’t it amazing that the middle Matzah is picked up out of the three pieces and that’s the one that is broken. Remember: the Father did not die on the cross, neither the Holy Spirit; only the Son. What is even more amazing is that they take one broken piece of the Matzah and wrap it and hide it for the children to find it – just like the Easter Eggs. Then, they bring out that hidden piece of bread – the Afikoman – that which is coming – at the end of the meal and eat it. It is a substitute for the lamb. For the past 1900 years the Jewish people have been celebrating the Pesach with no Lamb – where will you sacrifice it. No temple, no altar. The Afikoman represents Jesus who died and was wrapped according to the custom and buried Him in a grave but on the third day He came alive.
Now the most powerful statement: Matt. 26:27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Jesus not only celebrated the Passover but He also explained its true fulfillment. The next day was the National Passover, when the priests would sacrifice the lambs for the whole nation. At 3 pm, as the Levitical priests were slitting the throats of the lambs, Jesus was hanging on the cross, shedding His blood for our sins. Then He said – “It is finished.”
Judas did not get this – He was a false disciple.
So far we have seen – what happened before the meal and during the meal, now…
III. WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE MEAL?
Jesus gave them a solid assurance that they will meet again one day.29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
Keep in mind that it was not over – Peter was still going to betray Him. The rest of the disciples were still going to desert Him. Nonetheless, the promise to the true disciples was – together we will “drink it new in My Father’s Kingdom.”
Meaning: True disciples may fail, falter, and stumble but they are not lost eternally from the Father’s hand.
Application: Are you a true disciple or false one?
Then they sang a hymn and 30 “…they went out to the Mount of Olives.” It is a custom to end the Seder by singing the Hallel (Psalms 113 through 118).