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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903) - Contents
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    Ms 106, 1903

    The Last Supper


    September 14, 1903 [typed]

    Portions of this manuscript are published in CTr 261-264. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    In the upper chamber of a dwelling at Jerusalem Christ was sitting with His disciples. They had gathered to celebrate the Passover.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 1

    Christ had chosen Peter and John, who were to be closely associated in labor, to prepare for the supper. “Go and prepare us the passover,” He said, “that we may eat. And they said unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare? And He said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready. And they went, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.” [Luke 22:8-13.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 2

    Christ desired to guard against any premature movements that might be made by traitors coming to the supper and reciprocating the action designed by Judas.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 3

    It was customary for those living in the metropolis to accommodate strangers desirous of celebrating the Passover.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 4

    The message took the form of a command. It might seem to us to be unbecoming for these two Galileans to speak thus to a stranger. But circumstances happened as Christ foretold. The disciples met the man carrying a pitcher. They followed him and entered the house that he entered and repeated their message, and it met a ready assent on the part of the master of the house.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 5

    “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.” [Verse 14.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 6

    It was the last Passover that Jesus would keep with His disciples. He knew that His hour was come; He Himself was the true Paschal Lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten, He was to be sacrificed. He knew that the circumstances connected with this occasion would never be forgotten by His disciples. They would be recalled to memory and handed down from generation to generation in the history of the church.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 7

    Christ’s first words after they had gathered about the table were, “With desire have I desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” [Verses 15, 16.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 8

    “And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come.” [Verses 17, 18.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 9

    The wine that Christ gave to His disciples as a symbol of His own blood, and that which at the beginning of His ministry He provided for the marriage feast, was the pure juice of the grape. As there was to be no leaven in the bread used, so there was to be no fermentation in the wine. Christ never places before any one that which would be a temptation. The sacramental service was designed to be soul-refreshing and life-giving. There was to be connected with it nothing that would in any way minister to evil.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 10

    It was Christ who in the Old Testament gave the warning to Israel, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” [Proverbs 20:1.] And He Himself provided no such beverage. Satan tempts men to indulgence that will becloud reason and benumb the spiritual perceptions, but Christ teaches us to bring the lower nature into subjection. His whole life was an example of self-denial. In order to break the power of appetite, He suffered in our behalf the severest test that humanity could endure.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 11

    On this last evening with His disciples, Jesus had much to tell them. If they had been prepared to receive what He longed to impart, they would have been saved from heart-breaking anguish, from disappointment and unbelief. But Jesus saw that they could not bear what He had to say. As He looked into their faces, the words of warning and comfort were stayed upon His lips. Moments passed in silence. Jesus appeared to be waiting. The disciples were ill at ease. The glances they cast at each other told of jealousy and contention.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 12

    There was “a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” [Luke 22:24.] This contention carried on in the presence of Christ grieved and wounded Him. The disciples clung to their favorite idea that Christ would assert His power and take His position on the throne of David. And in heart each still longed for the highest place in the kingdom. They had placed their own estimate upon themselves and upon one another, and instead of regarding their brethren as more worthy, they had placed themselves first. The request of James and John to sit on the right and left of Christ’s throne had excited the indignation of the others. That the two brothers should presume to ask for the highest position, so stirred the ten that alienation threatened. They felt that they were misjudged, that their fidelity and talents were not appreciated. Judas was the most severe upon James and John.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 13

    When the disciples entered the supper room, their hearts were full of resentful feelings. Judas pressed next to Christ on the left side; John was on the right. If there was a highest place, Judas was determined to have it, and that place was thought to be next to Christ. And Judas was a traitor.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 14

    Another cause of dissension had arisen. At a feast it was customary for a servant to wash the feet of the guests, and on this occasion preparation had been made for the service. The pitcher, the basin, and the towel were there, but no servant was present, and it was the disciples’ part to perform it. But each of the disciples, yielding to wounded pride, determined not to act the part of a servant. Bitterness filled their hearts. Dissensions marred their fellowship.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 15

    Looking at the disturbed countenances of His disciples, Christ rose from the table; and laying aside His outer garment, which would have impeded His movements, He took a towel and girded Himself. “After that, He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.” [John 13:5.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 16

    Judas was the first whose feet Jesus washed. Judas had already closed the contract to deliver Jesus into the hands of the priests and scribes. Christ knew his secret. Yet He did not expose him. He hungered for his soul. His heart was crying, How can I give thee up? He hoped that His act in washing Judas’ feet would touch the heart of the erring disciple and save him from completing his act of disloyalty. And for a moment the heart of Judas thrilled through and through with the impulse then and there to confess his sin. But he would not humble himself. He hardened his heart against repentance. He made no remonstrance, no protestation against the Saviour, thus humiliating himself. He was offended at Christ’s act. If Jesus could so humble Himself, he thought, He could not be Israel’s king.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 17

    When Peter’s turn came, he was unable to restrain himself, and he exclaimed with astonishment, “Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?” [Verse 6.] He was filled with shame to think that one of the disciples was not performing this service.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 18

    Calmly Christ replied, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” Feeling keenly the humiliation of his Lord, and filled with love and reverence for Him, Peter with great emphasis exclaimed, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” [Verses 7, 8.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 19

    Solemnly Jesus said to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” [Verse 8.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 20

    A ray of light penetrated the mind of the disciple. He saw that the service which he refused was the type of a higher cleaning—the spiritual cleansing of mind and heart. He could not endure the thought of separation from Christ; that would have been death. “Not my feet only,” he said, “but also my hands and my head.” [Verse 9.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 21

    “Jesus saith unto him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” [Verse 10.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 22

    These words mean more than bodily cleansing. Christ is speaking of the higher cleansing, as illustrated by the lower. He who came from the bath was clean, but the sandaled feet soon became dusty and again needed to be washed. So Peter and his brethren had been washed in the great fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Christ acknowledged them as His. But temptation had led them into evil, and they still needed His cleansing grace. When Jesus girded Himself with a towel to wash the dust from their feet, He desired by this very act to wash the alienation, jealousy, and pride from their hearts. This was of far more consequence than the washing of their dusty feet. With the spirit they had then, not one of them was prepared for communion with Christ. Until brought into a state of humility and love, they were not prepared to partake of the Paschal supper or to share in the memorial service which Christ was about to institute. Their hearts must be cleansed. Pride and self-seeking create dissension and hatred, but all this Jesus washed away in washing their feet. A change of feeling was brought about. Looking upon them, Jesus could say, “Ye are clean.” [Verse 10.] Now there was union of heart, love for one another. They had become humble and teachable. Except Judas, each one was ready to concede to another the highest place. Now with subdued, grateful hearts they could receive Christ’s words.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 23

    Even Judas, had he repented, would have been received and pardoned. The guilt of his soul would have been washed away by the atoning blood of Christ. But, self-confident, and self-exalted, cherishing a high estimate of his own wisdom, he justified his course.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 24

    The ordinance of humility is Christ’s appointed preparation for the sacramental supper. While pride, variance, and strife for the supremacy are cherished, the heart cannot enter into fellowship with God. We are not prepared to receive the communion of His body and His blood. Therefore it was that Jesus appointed the memorial of His humiliation to be first observed.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 25

    Before the emblems of Christ’s broken body and shed blood are partaken of, every difference existing between brother and brother is to be removed. The heart is to be cleansed from evil thoughts. We are to seek for a preparation to sit with Christ in His kingdom. Misunderstandings are to be swept away, that we may have a true appreciation of the service in which we are about to take part.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 26

    “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, [and blessed it,] and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” [Matthew 26:26-29.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 27

    Judas the betrayer was present at the sacramental service. He received from Jesus the emblems of His broken body and His spilled blood. He heard the words, “This do in remembrance of Me.” [Luke 22:19.] And sitting there in the very presence of the Lamb of God, the betrayer brooded upon his dark purposes and cherished his sullen, revengeful thoughts.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 28

    At the feet washing Christ had given convincing proof that He understood the character of Judas. “Ye are not all clean,” He said. [John 13:11.] These words convinced the false disciple that Jesus read his secret purpose. Now Christ spoke out more plainly. As they were seated at the table, He said, looking upon His disciples, “I speak not of you all. I know whom I have chosen. But that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me.” [Verse 18.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 29

    The disciples saw the grieved expression on the face of Christ, and John, sitting next to Him, and best able to observe His movements and the expression of His face, saw that He was greatly troubled and wondered what could cause Him trouble.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 30

    At last Christ spoke. In the tone and manner of one pressed as a cart beneath sheaves, He said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.” [Verse 21.] As the disciples heard these words, all except Judas were spellbound with amazement. Betray their Lord and Master! There must be some mistake. How could this be possible? For what cause could they betray Him? and to whom? Whose heart could give birth to such a design? Surely not one of the favored twelve, who had eaten bread with Him, who had been privileged above all others to hear His teachings, and who had been treated as beloved friends? How could such a thing be?18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 31

    With sorrowful hearts the disciples looked at one another to see if any face showed signs of guilt. They questioned one another, and then one after another inquired, “Lord, is it I?” In deep distress, John inquired, “Lord, is it I?” And Jesus answered, “He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed; it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” [Verses 22-25; Matthew 26:22-24.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 32

    The disciples had searched one another’s faces closely as they asked, “Lord, is it I?” Until now Judas had sat silent, as if unconcerned. Now his silence drew all eyes to him. To escape the scrutiny of the disciples, he nerved himself to ask, as they had done, “Lord, is it I?” Jesus solemnly replied, “Thou hast said.” [Verse 25.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 33

    The rest of the disciples did not hear the words spoken to Judas. Neither had they in the confusion heard what Jesus said in answer to John.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 34

    “And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” [John 13:26.] The others, not having heard the words, did not interpret the sign.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 35

    Even now Judas could have acknowledged his guilt, even now broken the spell upon him. Christ was close beside him, ready to aid him. But his pride and the temptation of the enemy were so strong that he had no power to escape from the snare. Instead of casting himself upon the mercy of a compassionate Saviour, he braced himself in resistance.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 36

    “He then having received the sop, went immediately out; and it was night.” [Verse 30.] Night it was to the traitor as he turned away from Christ into the outer darkness.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 37

    Till this step was taken, Judas had not passed beyond the possibility of repentance. But when he left the presence of the Lord and his fellow disciples, the final decision had been made. He had passed the boundary line. He had now given himself fully into the control of Satan, to do his will and to brave the consequences.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 38

    Lessons From the Life of Judas

    The history of Judas presents the sad ending of a life that might have been honored of God. Had Judas died before his last journey to Jerusalem, he would have been regarded as a man worthy of a place among the twelve and one who would be greatly missed. The abhorrence which has followed him through the centuries would not have existed, but for the attributes revealed at the close of his history. But it was for a purpose that his character was laid open to the world. It would be a warning to all who, like him, should betray sacred trusts.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 39

    Judas had himself solicited a place in the inner circle of disciples. With great earnestness and apparent sincerity he declared, “Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.” [Matthew 8:19.] Jesus neither repulsed nor welcomed him, but uttered only the mournful words, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” [Luke 9:58.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 40

    The disciples were anxious that Judas should become one of their number. He was a man of commanding appearance, a man of keen discernment and executive ability, and they commended him to Jesus as one who would greatly assist Him in His work.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 41

    The face of Judas was not repulsive. It was keen and intelligent, but it lacked the tenderness and compassion that is seen in a truly converted man.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 42

    Possessing financial ability, he was given the work of acting as treasurer of the little company. He was called upon to provide for their needs, and to relieve the necessities of the poor. In ministering to others, Judas might have developed an unselfish spirit. But though listening daily to the lessons of Christ, and witnessing His unselfish life, Judas indulged his covetous disposition. The small sums that came into his hand were a continual temptation. Often when he did a little service for Christ or devoted time to religious purposes, he paid himself out of this meager fund. In his own eyes his pretext served to excuse his action; but in God’s sight he was a thief.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 43

    He was careful to see that all the money received was given him, but he thought himself at liberty to use it when and where he pleased, without consulting any one. He grumbled when called upon to part with some of the contents of the bag for the poor.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 44

    The disciples looked upon Judas as a wise financier. Christ read his heart, and in His teaching He dwelt upon the principles of benevolence that strike at the very root of covetousness. He presented before Judas the heinous character of greed, and many a time the disciple realized that his character had been portrayed and his sin pointed out. But he did not confess and forsake his unrighteousness. He was self-sufficient, and instead of resisting temptation, he continued to follow his fraudulent practices. Often, as he listened to Christ’s words, conviction came to him, but he would not humble his heart or confess his sins of selfishness. Christ was before him a living example of what he might become if he reaped the benefit of the divine mediation and ministry, but lesson after lesson fell unheeded on the ears of Judas.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 45

    Notwithstanding the Saviour’s own teaching, Judas was continually advancing the idea that Christ would reign as king in Jerusalem. At the feeding of the five thousand he tried to bring this about. On this occasion Judas assisted in distributing the food to the hungry. He had an opportunity to see the benefit which it was in his power to impart to others. He felt the satisfaction that always comes in service to God. He helped to bring the sick and suffering from among the multitude to Christ. He saw what relief, what joy, what gladness came to human hearts through the healing power of the Redeemer. He might have comprehended the methods of Christ. But he was blinded by his own selfish desires. Judas was first to take advantage of the enthusiasm excited by the miracle of the loaves. It was he who set on foot the project to take Christ by force and make Him king. His hopes were high, his disappointment bitter.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 46

    Christ’s discourses in the synagogue concerning the bread of life was the turning point in the history of Judas. He heard the words, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” [John 6:53.] He saw that Christ was offering spiritual rather than worldly good. He regarded himself as far-sighted and thought that he could see that Jesus would have no honor, and that He could bestow no high position upon His followers. He determined not to unite himself so closely to Christ but that he could draw away. He would watch, and he did watch.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 47

    We read that after hearing this discourse on the bread of life, “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” [Verse 66.] Their defection may be traced to the influence of Judas. By his false representations he aroused prejudice against Christ. Judas exalted his own ideas, and when something did not meet his mind, he was not slow to place upon it his own interpretation, to make of no effect the words of Christ. He spoke in a speculative style. When Christ told the people that He was the bread of heaven, Judas put a mystical construction on His words, robbing them of their true significance. He was known as a disciple of Christ, and this gave him influence with those who were lacking in knowledge, and he turned into false paths many who had not received one twentieth of the evidence that he had received.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 48

    Christ read the heart of Judas as an open book and knew that he was educating himself to be a traitor. “There are some of you that believe not,” He said. “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.” [Verse 64.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 49

    “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them. Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot; for it was he that should betray Him, being one of the twelve.” [Verses 67-71.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 50

    Thus worked one who should have been altogether loyal and true. He was a continual source of temptation to the other disciples, ever ready to bring dissension and strife into their ranks. He introduced controversies and misleading sentiments, repeating the arguments urged by the scribes and Pharisees against the claims of Christ. All the little and large troubles and crosses, the difficulties and the apparent hindrances to the advancement of the gospel, Judas interpreted as evidences against its truthfulness. He would introduce texts of Scripture that had no connection with the truths Christ was presenting. These texts, separated from their connection, perplexed the disciples and increased the discouragement that was continually pressing upon them. Yet all this was done by Judas in such a way as to make it appear that he was conscientious. And while the disciples are searching for evidence to confirm the words of the great Teacher, Judas would lead them almost imperceptibly on another track. Thus in a very religious and apparently wise way, he was presenting matters in a different light from that in which Jesus had given them and attaching to His words a meaning that He had not conveyed. His suggestions were constantly exciting an ambitious desire for temporal preferment, and thus turning the disciples from the important things they should have considered. The dissension as to which of them should be greatest was generally excited by Judas.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 51

    Yet Christ did not condemn Judas and send him away. He kept him with Him till the end. The opportunity to repent was given him to the very last.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 52

    Judas was present at the sacramental supper. He received from Jesus the emblems of His broken body and spilled blood. He heard the words, “This do in remembrance of Me.” [Luke 22:19.] And sitting there in the very presence of the Lamb of God, the betrayer brooded upon his own dark purposes and cherished his sullen, revengeful thoughts.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 53

    Christ’s words at the feet washing went to the heart of Judas as an arrow of conviction. But his pride would not yield. He hardened his heart and braced himself in opposition.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 54

    Though Jesus knew Judas from the beginning, He washed his feet. And the betrayer was privileged to unite with Christ in partaking of the sacrament. A long-suffering Saviour held out every inducement for the sinner to receive Him, to repent, and to be cleansed from the defilement of sin. His example is for us. When we suppose one to be in error and sin, we are not to divorce ourselves from him. By no careless separation are we to leave him a prey to temptation or drive him upon Satan’s battle ground. This is not Christ’s method.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 55

    Wonderful was the longsuffering of Jesus in dealing with this erring disciple. Nothing that could be done to save him had been left undone.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 56

    To Judas had been given the privilege of close communion with Christ. To him had been offered the bread of life and the water of salvation. To him the Saviour’s lessons had been given. But Judas refused to be benefited.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 57

    The work that Judas did will be done in our day. There are those who for their own good have been reproved by the Lord, but who have not believed the messages sent them, and have interpreted them as it suited their inclinations, putting their own construction on the testimonies of the Spirit of God. So many times have they done this that they have reached the place where they misapply and misappropriate every message of mercy and grace sent them. The Lord understands. He bears long with them, even as He bore with Judas. But unless they change, the time will come when for effect they will say anything that comes into their minds, making false statements.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 58

    God’s servants are to proclaim the message for this time just as it is, in its true meaning. And God would have them bear and forbear with those who are working against Him, until He shall say, “Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.” [Hosea 4:17.]18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 59

    All the way along in the history of the third angel’s message there have been found amongst the believers men who have done much harm to God’s cause. These men are spots in our feasts of charity; tares among the wheat; wolves among the sheep, ready to bite and devour. Delighting to bear false witness, they cruelly injure the reputation of others. Every such one will be rewarded according to his works. God “hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world.” [Acts 17:31.] Then will be made the separation between the wheat and the tares. In that day it will be clearly revealed that those who seek to destroy the reputation of God’s servants are hypocrites. By their own lips will be borne the testimony that will clear from suspicion those against whom they have reported evil.18LtMs, Ms 106, 1903, par. 60

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