Over the years, tradition and culture has shaped the way we do things in our various religious organizations. Christianity has many rituals that, over the years, lose great significance or take on new meaning. Today, I want to talk to you about one such ritual that has lost a bit of significance over the years: Communion.
Many Christian groups take communion. There are varying ways and frequencies with which it is participated. Some take it every Sunday, while others take it once a month or even once a quarter. Some even wait until Easter to take communion. Some take a small piece of cracker and tiny but of grape juice out of a mini-glass while other drink all from the same cup.
If you’re not familiar with the term “communion”, it is a symbolic supper where the unleavened bread eaten and the wine being drunk are symbolic of the body of Jesus and blood of Jesus respectively. These symbols are key to Christians because of their reference to the cross of Christ where our sins were forgiven through His sacrifice.
So back to the Communion:
I’m not sure how you take communion, but I am pretty sure there is one part to this supper that you don’t do.
If you’ll look in Matthew, Luke, and John, you’ll find their narratives of how the Last Supper went down, and each one refers to Jesus dipping the bread with Judas. In John’s gospel (chapter 13, verse 26) the King James Version refers to this time as when Jesus “dipped the sop” It reads like this:
“Jesus answered, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.” And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”
So, when’s the last time you “dipped the sop” during your communion celebration? I have been doing some research on this Last Supper. It was the Passover feast, and many Messianic Jews still celebrate this feast each year, however they have changed much of the symbolism because of Jesus’ sacrifice. As I have been studying, I’ve noticed that each version of this feast – known as a Seder dinner – has one element that intrigues me. On this feast, there are usually 6 items. Parsley, Unleavened bread (Matzoh), Bitter Herb (Horseradish), Roasted Egg, Lamb Shank, and the Charoset (A sweet mixture of pureed fruits and nuts with honey). There is also wine served in a series of four cups (meaning you drank your glass-full four times)
All of this is interesting enough, but the part that gets me is what comes toward the end of the feast. This part is called “Korech”. During this symbolic time, the participants would make a sandwich of Matzoh and Horseradish, then they would dip it in the Charoset. This may sound tasty to you, but horseradish is extremely potent. When you eat it, your eyes begin to water almost immediately, and the more you eat, the hotter it is. Some say it’s even more potent than a jabanero pepper.
During the supper, Jesus “dipped the sop” then gave it to Judas. This is the man who would betray him with a kiss and send him to his execution. Of course this was all done through God’s guidance, but the betrayal was no less painful to Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane later that night, Jesus prayed for God to let this cup pass from him.
What I’ve learned in studying this Seder (or Haggadah), is that the sop, after it was dipped, was supposed to be given to someone you love for them to eat.
Jesus dipped the sop and gave it to Judas.
He loves us…even when we betray Him.
I’m glad to have a savior like that! Who knows. Maybe someday we’ll re-incorporate dipping the sop in our communion celebrations, but until then, when you think of Jesus, remember how much He loves you…even when you don’t treat Him right. Then, treat others they way He treats you.