Did Judas Share the First Communion?

One of the conundrums for bible students is the question, “Did Judas take the first communion?”

At the end of His ministry Jesus inaugurated a change to the Passover service which made it into the now widespread Christian Communion service. But, many do not like the thought that Judas a traitor might have taken part in the first such service. Judas they feel did not deserve to take part! Of course, when you think about it, no-one deserves to take part actually!

Still, we should let the scriptures decide what took place and if indeed God has left us enough information to decide, or if the details regarding this do not matter!

So where in the bible can we look for details of the events that fateful evening?

Matthew 26:20-28
This scripture tells us of Jesus knowing that He would be betrayed and of the taking of the bread and the wine by the disciples. What is does not tell us is when Judas was given the bread which identified him as the traitor to the others and it does not tell us when he left the gathering.

Mat:26:20 Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You said it!”

Mat 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Mark 14:17-24
In this scripture, again we learn about who will betray Jesus and about the communion service that Jesus inaugurated, but once more we get no info on when Judas left the room or when the sop was given which meant that other disciples knew that Judas was a traitor.

Mark 14:17 When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me — one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21 For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

Mark 14:22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Luke 22:14-23
Luke starts his gospel by stating that he was going to give an 'orderly' report. Most people I know take this as meaning an overall time sequenced report. As with any book dealing with many subject threads at once, the writer follows one thread for a period of time and then goes back to the point where he left another thread and brings that thread up to date. So it cannot be strictly in time order!

Luke 22:14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. 21 But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. 22 For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” 23 And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.

In his treatise Luke tells us about the disciples taking the bread and wine of the communion service with Jesus leading them, and then, in verse 21, Jesus tells them that His betrayer is at the table with them.

This seems straight-forward and one thing to notice is that verse 21 starts with the word “But”. This is a “conjunction” which means that verse 21 is “attached” or "conjoined" to the previous verse.
The context also shows that it's part of the same thread of thought. To try to attach verse 21 to the previous thread in the chapter which deals with the preparation for the Passover, or any previous thread, does not make any sense!

John 13:3-30
The final gospel passage that deals with the “Lord's Supper” is in the book attributed to John. The footwashing ceremony and a short discourse by Jesus occupies from verse 3 to verse 20

After the washing of the disciples feet and that discourse, Jesus announces that someone in His circle of disciples would betray Him. Once Judas realises that Jesus knows what he is up to (on being given a morsel of bread with a cryptic line), Judas leaves to complete his betrayal.

John 13:21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

The thing is though that this gospel does not tell us when the taking of the bread and the wine in communion occurred. So we have to combine the information from this and the other gospels to put together the sequence of events.

So the sequence that I observe, taking the bible text seriously, is this...
1. Washing of feet – John 13:3-11.
2. Short discourse – John 13:12-20.
3. Taking of bread and wine – Matthew, Mark, Luke.
4. At table & given Morsel – Luke 22:19-21, John 13:24-27.
5. Judas leaves the room immediately – John 13:30.
6. Long discourse – John 13:31 - John17:26.

So taking Luke and John together we find out that the morsel is given to Judas by Jesus after the communion service. Otherwise we have to do damage to the meaning of the language around Luke 22:21.

This sequence of events also fits well with the character of our God; at least to me!

This shows us a God who will do anything in His efforts to redeem one man. We say that if we were the only person in the world Jesus would have died for us, then some seem shocked that he would hold the new communion with Judas around and involved! To not do so would surely be churlish of our great God!

Our God is good, all the time, and gives everyone, every chance, to believe!


Best wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus