by Jamie Osbourne
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
In today’s reading from I Corinthians we read about the last meal of Jesus. We don’t have all the details about Jesus’ betrayal, but the writer assumes that we know the context. He assumes that we know one of Jesus’ inner circle, Judas, betrays him. He is also probably assuming that we know that Jesus’ disciples run off when he is taken into custody. He is most likely assuming that we know the strongest and most vocal of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, denies he even knows Jesus. We are reminded in Corinthians that on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Jesus knew all of this was going to happen before he washed his disciple’s feet or shared his last supper with them.
None of these things catch Jesus by surprise. He institutes the sacred meal by which his life and death and resurrection and love will be known – he shares this knowing full well that he will be betrayed, abandoned, and denied by his closest friends. Knowing all of this, he looks tenderly at his friends he loves dearly, washes their feet, and lets them know he gives all of himself for them.
It strikes me that Jesus knows me in the same way. He knows the ways that I will fail him, deny him, and even betray him. Then he stoops down to the dirty task of washing my feet. After washing my dirty feet he breaks bread and gives the wine. He knows all the ways I will fail. He sees how the idol of my own pain can blind me to everyone’s needs but my own. He knows the fear deep inside of me. With soft eyes and a tender heart, he sees my moodiness and short temper that sometimes make it difficult for others to live with. He sees all the ways that I betray, abandon, or deny him in other persons.
Jesus sees it all and I can hear him say: “Come share this sacred meal with me and see that I’m giving everything I have for you. Take it. Remember it. I’m here to show you what love is because I am Love. You can throw the bread of heaven away and deny you ever tasted it. You can reach past the cup of salvation in order to drown yourself in the cheap wine of the current world system and self. But I’ll always be here, breaking my body and pouring out my very life for you and the world. And one more thing, I want you to pay attention and do this – Love like I have loved you.”
Jamie lives with his wife, Lauren, and their two children, Rowan and Phoebe, in Huntsville, Alabama. Jamie is a Postulant for Holy Orders and will be attending seminary this upcoming fall.