AFTER THEY HAVE taken their places and are eating, what are the first words that we hear Jesus say? He says, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” He added, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.” Isn’t this startling? What a way to start a dinner party! The first words of Jesus, at his final dinner with his disciples, name the conflict that is the elephant in the room. Judas is going to betray Jesus.
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There is nothing Pollyannaish or sentimental or individualistic or pietistic about this meal. The meal is not privatized or spiritualized. There is nothing here that is romantic or escapist. This is the real world, with real and deep conflict. So, here Jesus sits at his last supper, under the shadow of the cross with the man who would betray him and the eleven others who will desert him. Does that sound like conflict to you? And Jesus named it. Justice requires the naming. Truth requires the naming. As important, transformation requires the naming. What is unnamed lies just beneath the surface. It often develops dis-ease. It gets worse until it explodes in very destructive ways. You must name it to heal it.
—Thomas W. Porter
“The Last Supper: Naming the Conflicts and Giving Bread and Wine,” Conflict and Communion: Reconciliation and Restorative Justice at Christ’s Table
From pages 19-20 of Conflict and Communion: Reconciliation and Restorative Justice at Christ’s Table edited by Thomas Porter. Copyright © 2006 by Discipleship Resources, an imprint of Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.
Have you experienced a time when naming a problem or conflict helped lead to healing and forgiveness? Share your thoughts.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.
—Mark 14:17-20, NRSV
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