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A Disturbing Dinner

Most church congregations follow a familiar order of service. We usually know the number of songs we will sing and when we will pray. We know when to stand and when the pastor will begin the sermon. When the order is changed, some people are bothered.

The Passover service also followed a familiar pattern. It must have seemed strange when Jesus began to go “off script” during His last Passover with the disciples. Most disturbing was the news that one of them would betray Him (v. 22). Jesus had predicted His betrayal more than once (Matt. 17:22; 20:18). Now He revealed that the betrayer was seated at the table with them. When all the disciples denied that such a thing was possible, Jesus repeated His prediction along with this warning: “But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (v. 24). Judas’s denial was a bald-faced lie. He had already made the arrangements to hand Jesus over (v. 14).

Jesus emphasized both God’s sovereignty and the moral responsibility of the one who would betray Him. Scripture makes it clear that divine sovereignty and human responsibility are in harmony. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter explained: “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). The other major change during the meal was the shift from the Passover lamb to Jesus and His suffering. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

>> Are you trusting in Jesus’ blood to cover the guilt of your sins? One important distinctive of Christianity is that we do not earn our salvation. We cannot possibly do enough good to cancel out the bad. Instead, we marvel at the fact that Jesus paid the price for our sins. Thank Him today!

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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