Jesus took the piece of bread, soaked it in the vinegar and handed it to his disciple. His disciple took it and ate it. Such a very simple gesture, but, unbeknownst to me, demonstrated the plan of God for the ages. Jesus was having His last supper with His disciples and had just announced that someone would betray Him. The disciple who was leaning on Jesus’ breast asked, “Who?” Jesus replied quietly, “He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.” John 13:26a (KJV)
The end of verse 26 tells the reader of John that it was Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon who took the sop and ate it. Jesus then tells Judas to do quickly what he is about to do. Judas then rushes out before the Communion ritual is instituted.
This offering of the morsel of bread dipped in vinegar (sop) was Jesus’ last attempt to reach out to Judas. It seems that in the Hebrew culture offering food to be eaten directly from another’s hand is very intimate. It is a gesture of deep caring and love for the one given the food. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do, but wanted him to know, one last time, that He loved him–not just a little, but to the uttermost (John 13:1)
Judas would have known what handfeeding meant as he swallowed the sop for the custom was as old as time to the Hebrew people. In Ruth 2:14 we find Ruth, who has been gleaning in the fields of Boaz, offered a place at the table of the reapers at mealtime. Here we find her dipping her bread morsels in the vinegar and eating alongside the reapers. During the meal Boaz picked up some roasted grain in his hand and offered it to her and she ate it from his hand. Being a Moabite, Ruth did not realize what had just transpired.
When she returned home that night and told Naomi, her mother-in-law, what had happened during her day in the fields, Naomi knew that Boaz’s gesture was a sign of affection for Ruth. In fact, his actions were akin to a marriage proposal in Naomi’s eyes. I was always puzzled by Naomi’s instructions for Ruth to ready herself and lie with Boaz after gleaning hours. Now I understand. Following Naomi’s instruction, Ruth would let Boaz know she accepted his declaration of love and care for her.
At the last supper, Jesus gave Judas the same invitation.
This Monday I am thankful for the bread I have received from the Master’s hand:
#758 a chance to do a job I love
#759 a job that is also a school to prepare me for what God is calling me to do in retirement
#760 friends who help me with whatever
#761 cyber-friends who let me steal their words, poems and ideas for cards I make
#762 rhema words spoken in season
#763 prayer warriors who won’t let me die in my selfishness
#764 different strengths as I age that compensate for the lost strengths of youth
#765 my niece, Anna, who gave me plants this week, but most of all, gave her time to come up to visit her mother and her Aunt Debby (my sisters)
#766 my son Harry attending the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit.
#767 my son Samuel teaching his children to play chess
#768 my daughter-in-law Stephanie’s birthday today
#769 my daughter Joyce finding out about a job doing exactly what she did in the Navy. I’m praying she gets it.
#771 the gas station next to where I work offering a credit card to get 30 cents off each gallon of gas for 90 days
#772 someone creating compression hosiery for those of us with varicose veins
#773 my little hospice dog letting me know when he has to go out
#774 my doctor being “in network” with the new medical coverage I will be getting
Grateful to be at His banquet table with the Multitudes this Monday,