This evening we reach Matthew 26, including the Last Supper. This is a very familiar part of the Gospel for many readers, and yet it can also be one of the most frustrating stories to get straight.
When it comes to identifying the betrayer, according to St. Matthew, the disciples ask “is it I?” and Jesus answers to Judas “yes.” According to St. Mark, the disciples ask “is it I?” and Jesus says it’s someone who’s eating bread from the dish like he is. St. Luke doesn’t specify Jesus’ answer to the question. According to St. John, John and Peter ask who the traitor is, Jesus indicates by giving a piece of bread to Judas, who then leaves, but the other disciples don’t know why. How do you reconcile this? It’s pretty complicated.
There are several places in the Bible where the level of detail and precision leave the modernist’s desire for strict chronology not a little frustrated. The underlying reality is that, even when a part of the Bible is labeled “historical”, its purpose is not to relate history, but to reveal God, specifically the person of Jesus Christ, to us. We preach the Gospel, not history lessons; the unfailing authority of the Bible is not based upon what it has to say about science or about history, but about God and mankind. Some people get overly hung up over this sort of issue, and we have to assure them that even in those little corners where the Scriptures don’t seem to add up historically or archaeologically or whatever, there is no cause for alarm.
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