Did Judas Partake in the Elements of Communion?

A wooden carving of the Lord's Supper

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there. When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?” He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago, but how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.” As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant[b] between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. –Matthew 26:17-30

I once heard of a debate about whether or not Judas was present when they partook in the elements of the Lord’s Supper (a.k.a.: Communion, Eucharist). Interestingly enough, Matthew, Mark and Luke left out Judas’ leaving, as well as the Foot washing event. I thought it was also interesting that Judas denied his betrayal, following the other disciples’ words, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” (But then, we don’t know the tone of his voice when he said it). Take a look at this:

Matthew, Mark, Luke =

  • Lord’s Supper
  • No foot washing
  • No Judas leaving

John =

  • Foot washing
  • Judas Leaves
  • No Lord’s Supper

Now, we know that Judas was still present for the foot washing, for when Simon asked to have his whole body washed, Jesus said that he was already clean, and so only needed his feet cleaned. But not everybody there is clean, saying that Jesus knew who was going to betray Him.
(John 13:10-11) The question though, is when did Jesus distribute and introduce the elements?

Matthew, Mark and Luke mention that while they were still eating, and Jesus was reclining with them at the table, He announced that one of them (one of the 12) would betray Him. (Luke probably mentioned “one of the 12” to trump any suggestions of other names, or the servants waiting on the meal). Everybody asked if it would be them. All for gospels reveal it to be Judas, but only John makes reference to Satan jumping into Judas and a time that he left.

So, was Judas present for the Eucharist?
Now check this out: Some Lutheran synods/sects have this thing about who is and who is not allowed to partake in communion with them. They fear that if one person is of the wrong spirit or heart, then all risk being tainted or getting sick. It’s like the one bad egg in the omelet. However, if Judas was present during the Eucharist, then it would also trump the Lutherans’ claim/rules of who may partake, for clearly, Judas’ heart/spirit wasn’t right.

Granted, they could argue that Judas’ presence caused them all to abandon Jesus and for Peter to deny Jesus 3 times, but how would it account for John’s continued presence? Also, if they were to argue this, then they would also have to take in account that:

  • Neither had the Holy Spirit yet
  • Each (except Judas) was forgiven, reinstated and given great authority and missions.

So in other words, everything worked out fine.

(However, if Judas was not present for the Eucharist, then we can still look at the 1 Corinthians’ text that they take this from, for the context itself even shows that this is not what Paul was saying. So the passage they misinterpret proves their theology in this matter is incorrect.)

So what I’m trying to figure out is, Judas was obviously present for the foot-washing, mentioned in John. But was he there during the Lord’s Supper (Communion / Eucharist)? In summary, I can’t tell.

What do you think? Do you think Judas was present for the Eucharist, or do you think he already left before they partook of the elements?

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