“On The Night He Was Handed Over” - But By Whom? image

“On The Night He Was Handed Over” - But By Whom?

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Tonight we remember the handing over of Jesus after the Last Supper: "who, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it ..." (1 Cor 11:23). That Jesus was "handed over" or "betrayed" (paradidomi) that night is at the centre of our faith. But "handed over" or "betrayed" by whom, and to whom?

The traditional answer is Judas, and this may well still be the best explanation. But notice: the story of the cross is stuffed full of people who were handing over, betraying or abandoning Jesus to somebody else in that twenty-four hour period. If it weren’t so tragic, there would almost be an air of comedy to it. Jesus is the ultimate hot potato.

- Judas “betrays” Jesus to the chief priests.
- The disciples “betray” Jesus by falling asleep, running away and (in Peter’s case) denying him.
- The soldiers “hand over” Jesus to the Sanhedrin.
- The Sanhedrin “hand over” Jesus to Pilate.
- Pilate “hands over” Jesus to Herod, who hands him back to Pilate.
- Pilate “hands over” Jesus to the crowd, literally washing his hands of the whole affair, and then “hands over” Jesus to the soldiers to be crucified.

The point of all this abandoning and blame-shifting is terrible in its impact: nobody can read the story of the cross without realising that all of us, whether elites or crowds or special interests or cowards or friends, have “handed over” Jesus. We did it. “Who, on the night he was handed over (by the whole human race), took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it ...”

Which makes the next statement even more powerful. “This is my body, which is for you.’”

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