Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
(Mark 14:19, NLT)
One of my required classes in seminary was a “Christian Worship” class, in which we studied and led different types of worship services. In one of the classes, Ed, a classmate, was leading Communion. To prepare us for receiving Communion, Ed very forcefully and repeatedly directed everyone in the class to “EXAMINE YOURSELF!” As he went on and on about the critical importance of this self-examination, he told us he “really gets on his congregation” about examining themselves before they take Communion. After Ed stopped ranting there was a quiet pause, and then I asked, “Does anyone in your church ever take Communion?” Laughter erupted in the classroom, and even Ed appreciated the gist of my question.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the “Last Supper” Jesus shared with the Twelve before his crucifixion and resurrection. In the account of the Last Supper, Jesus informs the Twelve that one of them will betray him. And then each one of the Twelve wondered aloud, “Am I the one?”
I have to admit, I find the disciples’ struggle with their own sinfulness to be encouraging. Each one of the Twelve (the Apostles!) in their self-examination at the Last Supper, found enough personal flaws and short-comings to humbly consider, “Am I the one who will betray Christ?”
Respecting the Apostle Paul’s direction in 1st Corinthians 11 to “examine yourself” before receiving Communion, it seems to me the point of the examination is NOT to find ourselves “good enough” for Communion. Rather, the examination should lead us to humbly acknowledge we are sinners in need of a Savior, thankful for Christ’s sacrifice and saving grace.
As you reflect on Maundy Thursday this year, remember each one of “the Twelve” humbly found themselves to be a sinner in need of a Savior. And in this mindset, received the bread and the cup from Jesus.
Rev. Randy Rasmussen, Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Dakotas