… that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; (1 Cor 11:23b)
This is the start of a passage we always refer to during the Holy Communion sacrament. For me, this is also the part I never really paid attention to before, since we often focus on the latter part about remembering the Lord’s death and examining ourselves.
In a prayer before the Holy Communion, I had reflected on myself and admit I lamented to God that I felt “tired of forgiving” the trespasses of others. However, this thought came to my mind: “Has the Lord Jesus ever gotten tired of forgiving me? How about the sins of everyone else?” Indeed He has forgiven us more than we could ever forgive another.
Later when the minister referred to this passage during the Holy Communion, that was when the verse stood out to me: on the same night in which He was betrayed… It was not just any other night. What Jesus was about to do for the sins of mankind, the greatest sacrifice of love, was done on the very same night He was betrayed.
Perhaps what hurt Jesus the most during His lifetime was not that certain people opposed Him or did not believe in Him. Rather, I think it was by whom He was betrayed. We know from His prayer in Gethsemane that He was already exceedingly sorrowful and distressed because of the cross before Him. If we were Jesus and had to drink this cup, perhaps it would have been more acceptable if some stranger came to take us away. But no, it had to be Judas. One of Jesus’ closest and most beloved disciples. This is like the ultimate blow or slap in the face.
Yet out of His great love, Jesus made several attempts to get through to Judas so that he would repent. Imagine how difficult this must have been! Although Jesus was deeply hurt, He never stopped loving His betrayer but went on to bear the sins of the whole world that same night.
We are taught from the world that we should only love those who treat us well. However, Jesus has already taught us with His life, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt 5:44). Yes, we are to love those who do not treat us well and even those who have sinned against us.
Jesus, though blameless, died for us while we were sinners. Yet today, we have trouble forgiving people just for speaking hurtful words to us. None of us have to get beaten, shed blood or even lose our lives, but the sad truth is that some have left the church because of interpersonal conflicts. So this is a wake up call from the message of the cross.
When we are truly moved by the love of Christ on the cross, forgiving others no longer seems impossible. So let us remember how our Lord Jesus too forgave those who hurt Him in the worst way possible. Then we will realize that in fact there is no sin against us that cannot be forgiven nor should we ever grow tired of forgiving, for “love covers a multitude of sins” (Jas 4:8b).
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jn 13:34-35)