…the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread…
I learned it the hard way. School teachers know this dynamic. Supervisors managing those with diverse expectations know it. Pastors moderating your typical everyday run-of-the-mill highly functioning session or committee members, they know it. Not wanting to single anyone out, but feeling an unquenchable desire to address some behavior in the group, gives a general announcement for everyone to hear.
“Some of you are [enter behavior that exasperates you]….I’m not saying who. But those of you who are [repeat offending behavior], you know who you are.”
Call it Murphy’s Law of Indirect Communication. Those who are not causing any problems, anxiously think you’re talking to them. Those who desperately need to hear it, the ones causing the problem, they are totally convinced you’re talking to someone else–if they’re listening at all.
The Lectionary deletes this scene from the reading. After Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, he declares the one who shares his bread will betray him. The disciples are bewildered, talking amongst themselves. Simon Peter nudges the beloved disciple to find out who it might be. When it comes down to the wire, every single disciple abandons Jesus that night. Simon Peter denies him. The Betrayer wasn’t just Judas.
Every disciple betrays the Lord.
…and when he had given thanks, he broke it…
Betrayal exists when trust is broken. Betrayal means a broken relationship, a broken vow. It means more than simply an unmet expectation. Betrayal is a violation. We live in a broken world filled with betrayals great and small. Everything is broken.
I currently serve with a ministry deploying chaplain teams to companies who contract with us to provide an employee care service. Every single day, women and men enter manufacturing plants, car dealerships, bakeries, meat processing facilities, fast food joints, CPA firms, lumber mills. They meet people of all stripes, with different backgrounds, different cultures, many times speaking different languages. These chaplains hear countless stories of need, of heartache, of betrayals, of brokenness.
There’s a danger for those of us who serve in the helping profession. We can be so focused on the hurts of others, we can overlook our own needs, our own hurts, and our own betrayals. We open the Scripture and immediately consider how it applies to others–forgetting that it interprets us. If we still hold to the doctrine of depravity, that means all of us who are disciples have betrayed the Lord and fallen short of the glory of God.
That night that Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread and sacramentally broke it–just as his body would be broken in order to heal our disease, forgive all our iniquities, to mend our relationship, and repair the very fabric of the cosmos.
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
I learned it the hard way. As I think back on my betrayals–both great and small–I think of the countless ones I have hurt, trust I have destroyed, relationships I have broken. My heart, my spirit is broken by these betrayals. I am powerless to heal these wounds. But as I eat this bread and drink this cup, I am made to remember the One who was broken so that I might be made whole. Take and eat of the broken One until he comes again to make all things new.