QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
02/22/15 Visitor believes Judas did partake of the first Memorial Supper
02/19/15 Do you think the Watchtower Society will soon be making an adjustment in their teachings and start helping people meet the basic needs?
On February 22, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“Hello. I read your response about Judas and the Passover ('Did Judas partake of the Memorial Emblems?'). While I do agree with you in lot of things, I disagree with you in this matter and here's why. You said: 'Since Luke reports the arguing after the Passover meal, we believe his sequencing is not correct. To us, John's sequence sounds the most accurate.' I think we should stop saying Luke got it wrong... Luke got it wrong. Because Luke, by Divine inspiration, started his book the following way:
LUKE 1:1-4 - 1 Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that you might know the certainty concerning the things in which you were instructed.
“Luke traced ALL things accurately. I believe in Luke and his accuracy!”
To the author, thank you for your email. We post your response to share with others an alternative opinion on whether Judas was present at the Memorial Supper. We continue to believe he was not present for the reasons set forth in our initial response. But, as we wrote, this is a theological issue and an academic exercise.
Theological issues are those that ‘merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith.’ (1 Timothy 1:4) Here, determining whether or not Judas was present may enhance one’s knowledge, but it does not build or destroy faith in the Father or in Christ Jesus. It certainly had an effect on Judas personally, but it has no bearing on our salvation. Really, brother, those who believe that Judas partook of the first Memorial Supper remain united in faith with those who believe Judas was dismissed prior to the Memorial Supper because our faith does not rest on Judas’ actions. And so we are content to agree to disagree on this theological issue.
And do not worry about whether you agree with everything we publish. We are not the masters over anyone’s faith. We do not hold ourselves out as the authority in matters pertaining to the Bible or to faith, nor do we require that others follow our view. We are fellow workers, along with you, endeavoring to do the Father’s will to the best of our ability. If you are able to obtain some spiritual gift from our website, then we are content with that. Take those matters that benefit you and leave the rest on the table, so to speak. And, of course, we continue to view you as our brother and we sincerely appreciate your longtime support.
On February 19, 2015, we received the following inquiry from one of our brothers in Spain. Translated to the best of our ability, this is what he wrote:
“Hi, as you know, in the days of the early Christian church, all Christians shared what they had, and the widows and orphans were helped in their trouble. So whether a person is to be classified as sheep or goat is a result of how they treated Christ's brethren in their basic needs, ... since the [Watchtower] does not promote these good practices do you think there will soon be an adjustment of understanding to come about?
“In my humble opinion, and as we express our Lord Jesus Christ, wheat and tares look very similar and are growing together, and the angels and the Lord are in charge of making this separation. Since God's judgment begins from home, it is logical that even when the Lord comes with his mighty angels there will still be room for improvement. This should make us humble and honest with God and we should reject people and falsehoods, and primarily our loyalty should be always the Lord and His Son Jesus Christ.
“I rejoice that there is a place where we can express our questions and you give us answers, greetings.”
To the author, thank you for your email. Although we are optimistic and hopeful, we are not holding our breath in expectation of meaningful change in the Watchtower leadership, at least not in the next couple of years. We do, however, see a gradual change in the individual Witnesses. More and more are turning away from the servitude of men and are beginning to follow Jesus as ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ (John 14:6)
While some continue to follow ‘the blind’ (Matthew 15:14), more and more are opening their own eyes and beginning to follow the leading of the spirit. (Romans 8:14) They are training their powers of perception (Hebrews 5:14), being guided by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) and allowing the spirit to teach them.
(1 John 2:27) And they are rejecting the ideas foisted upon them by the Watchtower publications that their salvation is dependent upon them following the direction of the Governing Body ‘whether it is sound from a human standpoint or not.’ (The Watchtower, November 15, 2013, p. 20, paragraph 17) We are very grateful to see and be a part of this change in our brothers and sisters.
As far as the separating of the sheep and goat, this is a work done by Christ Jesus and the angels (Matthew 25:31-32), and so we leave them to their work. It is not our place to judge our brothers, no matter what we think of their choices. (Matthew 7:1-5)
And again, we thank you for your email and if you have any other questions about anything we publish, please do not hesitate to write us again.
On February 18, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“I just have a quick question regarding a picture shown on the Memorial of Offense Poster. Why is it that there are shown 11 apostles with the Lord? The gospel of Luke says that Judas was there too after the Lord Jesus made the covenant. Luke 22:21 “But look! the hand of my betrayer is with me at the table." The Watchtower says that Luke (even though he was inspired by holy spirit) got it wrong.”
To the author, thank you for your email. The quick and direct answer to your question is that, as we all can agree, Judas left the supper at some point. The picture in the poster is an illustration of a time after Judas left. But your question seems to be – Was Judas present at the institution of the Lord’s Evening Meal and was he a partaker in the new covenant? We will respond to that question as well. Let’s look at the individual accounts.
Matthew records that ‘as they were eating’ the Passover meal, Judas was identified as the betrayer (Matthew 26:21-25); then Jesus instituted the supper (Matthew 26:26-29). Matthew does not record when Judas left.
Mark records the same sequence as Matthew that “as they were reclining and eating’ the Passover meal, Jesus identified the betrayer (Mark 14:18-21); then Jesus instituted the supper (Mark 14:22-25) Again, no mention of when Judas left.
Luke records that Jesus reclined at the table and ate the Passover meal (Luke 22:14-18); then he instituted the supper (Luke 22:19-20); then Jesus said one of them was a betrayer (Luke 22:21-23), then the apostles began arguing about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27); and then Jesus again acknowledges the new covenant (Luke 22:28-30). And here, no mention of when Judas left.
John records a different sequence: While the Passover meal was going on, Jesus got up to wash the feet of the apostles apparently in response to their arguing about who was greater (John 13:2-20); then Jesus identified Judas as the betrayer and Judas leaves the supper (John 13:21-30); then Jesus begins teaching many superb concepts about love. Interestingly, John is the only account that does not include the actual instituting of the Memorial Supper.
Here is what we have concluded from these accounts:
1. All 12 apostles ate the Passover meal with Jesus. So it is not odd that an account would mention Jesus giving a piece of dipped bread to Judas. That eating was part of the Passover meal, not the new supper.
2. Since it is the custom that the guests’ feet are washed prior to the Passover celebration, and since washing of the hands is a feature of the Passover celebration, we believe the arguing among the apostles occurred prior to the Passover meal and prior to the institution of the Memorial Supper.
3. Since Luke reports the arguing after the Passover meal, we believe his sequencing is not correct. To us, John’s sequence sounds the most accurate.
4. This also means that we believe Mark and Matthew had the correct sequencing since they are consistent with John’s sequencing, which also means that,
5. Finally, we believe Luke’s account is accurate. He records the events that occurred that night, he just recorded them without regard to the order of events. So the fact that the sequencing is wrong does not make the account inaccurate.
Nevertheless, whether Judas was present or not is a theological question. His presence or lack of presence does not effect our own decision on whether or not we should be present. Our brothers and sisters must learn to distinguish the difference between matters of knowledge and matters of faith. (1 Timothy 1:4) If our conclusion is wrong and Judas was, in fact, present, that only means that Jesus was merciful and hopeful that even at that late date, Judas might turn from his treacherous course.
We know that many Jehovah’s Witnesses use Judas’ non-presence to support an argument that not all present at the Memorial Supper should partake. We agree with them, but probably for different reasons.
We believe that anyone who would dare to oppose Jesus, resist Jesus, or betray Jesus SHOULD NOT partake. That includes anyone who rejects the heavenly hope and rejects the ‘places Jesus prepared for us.’ (John 14:2-3) That includes anyone who is not a brother to Christ Jesus, anyone who is not baptized into Christ, anyone who is not in the Christian congregation, which IS the body of Christ, and anyone who does not confess union with Christ Jesus. In fact, anyone who chooses not to follow Christ wherever he goes, but instead chooses to follow men does not deserve to partake of the Memorial emblems, does not deserve even to be present at the Memorial Supper, and certainly does not deserve everlasting life in heaven or on earth, as Jesus plainly stated:
“So Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.”
– John 6:53
But for those who do confess union with Christ, they MUST partake, regardless of what Judas did. It is the only religious observance Jesus ever commanded and directly connected with gaining life.
“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.”
– John 6:54-56
So the bottom line is this: Beyond the academic exercise and the obvious importance it has to Judas personally, whether he partook of the Memorial Supper or not has no bearing on OUR salvation.
Of course, you are free to agree or disagree with our conclusion, but we hope it does not deter you from personally confessing union with Christ at this year’s Memorial Supper.