The Night He Was Betrayed
November 6th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
11-6-55 7:30 p.m.
One of the strange developments in preaching through the Bible is that so oft times when a special occasion comes, there in the immediate text before us is God’s Word concerning it; so tonight, preaching through the Word. This morning was the first part of the eleventh chapter of the first Corinthian letter; tonight, the latter part of that eleventh chapter of First Corinthians; and it has to do with the Lord’s Supper. The title of the sermon tonight is also the text: The Same Night in Which the Lord Was Betrayed, and the reading of the Word – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you: that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
And when He had given thanks, He brake it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me."
After the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me."
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.
And that phrase, "the same night in which he was betrayed," refers us back to the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Matthew when the disciples and the Lord came and in the upper room they shared together the Passover feast.
And as they did eat, Jesus said, "Verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me."
They were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, "Lord, is it I? Is it I?"
And He answered and said, "He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me."
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it and brake it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink you, all of you, of it.
For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
I say unto you, I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom."
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.
The Lord Jesus, "The Same Night in Which He Was Betrayed" [1 Corinthians 11:23]. Events make time memorable. We go along, then a thing happens: our birthdays, our burial days, our resurrection days; and this tragic and awful day followed by that dark, dark night – the night in which Jesus was betrayed. It has a certain subtle melancholy just to read it: "The same night in which he was betrayed." It would not have fit had the Word said, "The same morning"; wouldn’t quite have done had the record read, "Upon a glorious summer noontime," or "On a full, soft day in June when the sun was risen to its height." No. There’s something about the music of that: "The night in which he was betrayed" [1 Corinthians 11:23]. As John tells the story, when Jesus gave the sop to Judas, he says, "And Judas went out immediately. And it was night" [John 13:30]. Night – it’s dark. That night was a dark, dark night. It is midnight the night of the betrayal of the Lord.
How will Jesus use that darkness? How will He confront that night? How will He behave Himself? What will be His deportment and His demeanor that awful and tragic night when He was betrayed? Oh, we know how He shall do: He will fall into despair, that’s what He will do. He will be overwhelmed by it. That’s what will overwhelm Him – the stark maligned prospect of His murder, of His death, of His crucifixion. He will fall into mourning. That’s how He will do. How will the Lord receive that awful and tragic night? How will He accept it? Well, He will be, He will be lost in the sense of His failure, and He will say to his disciples, "I have failed, and I’m going back now whence I came."
No. The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, what did He do? He took bread [Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23]. He was always taking bread and giving it to other people, always taking bread and feeding hungry mouths, always taking bread and breaking it for the people [Matthew 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-9; Luke 9:10-17, 24:30; John 6:5-14].
What does He do the night that He was betrayed? He founds a memorial simple as the thought of a child but beautiful as love. "In remembrance" [Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25]: it looks back over that stony road that we’ve traveled, "and till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]: it looks forward to that road that we have yet to travel. And He took bread, and He founded a memorial. And it’s so simple that wherever in this earth there is bread – and wherever there is life there is bread – we can observe the memorial of the broken, given, dedicated, sacrificial, atoning body of our Lord. What will He do the night that He’s betrayed? He’ll fall into agony. He will fall into despair. That awful night He will admit his failure. No. He is triumphant. He is never so noble. He founds a memorial forever, and He breathes into it the very life and presence of God.
The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, what will He do? "He took bread, and He gave thanks," [Matthew 26:26-27; Luke 22:19; Mark 14:22-23; 1 Corinthians 11:24]. "And He gave thanks." He lifted His eyes up to heaven and gave thanks. He was always looking up to heaven [John 11:41, 17:1]. The downward look is everlastingly and eternally one of dreary, one of unmitigated, unending sorrow and failure. Just look down, just look down, and it’s always a dreary prospect. Look up, look up. It’s always light and bright and glorious around the throne of God [Exodus 24:9-10; Isaiah 63:15; Daniel 7:9; 1 Timothy 6:13-16; Revelation 4:2-3].
"And He took bread, and He gave thanks" [1 Corinthians 11:23]. He gave thanks over the simplest things in this world. He had bread, and He had the fruit of the vine – a simple, plain and humble meal, but in it He found elements, symbols, for the very life of God Himself, and He gave thanks [Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25]. Jesus was that way. And there are some people who are that way. They can find great things and good things in simple things, in humble things, like a little child that can find the baby in her doll. So some of God’s people: they can see the very flame and color of the presence of the Lord in flowers that burn and are not consumed, in the rainbow across the sky, in the drops of showers that fall from heaven, in each day that comes out of eternity just likes the rain comes out of the sky – seeing in plain, simple, humble things, the creative workmanship and the gifts of God. What did He do the night in which He was betrayed? He took bread, and for simple crusts, He lifted his eyes to heaven and gave thanks to God.
What did He do the night in which He was betrayed? The Bible says they sang a hymn [Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26]. Isn’t that an unusual thing to write there in the Book? That awful night – that dark, stark and tragic night – "they sang an hymn" [Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26]. Hardly anybody could have seen the very nearness and presence of God that awful night – hardly any eyes except the eyes of the Lord Jesus. That dark curtain that night shut out God from anybody but not the Lord, not the Lord.
"And they sang an hymn" [Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26]. I like that old English a whole lot better than this newfangled grammar that they try to foist in the Word of God. "And when they had sung an hymn." There’s a wistful remembrance that makes you linger around that scene in that old English there: "And when they had sung an hymn."
Think of singing that night. All of our songs are retrospective. We sing about the rivers that we’ve already crossed and the seas that opened as we approached them. We sing about the troubles we’ve already been through. But do you ever hear anybody singing about the trials and the troubles that we’re going to face? Ever hear anybody sing and be happy about the tragedy that lies ahead, the night that slays us and destroys us? To sing then? As long as we are assured that there’s not going to be a feather taken out of our nest, why we sing a doxology. But when our nest is not only going to be destroyed but scattered to the winds, then who stands and sings? Who says "hallelujah?" The night that He was betrayed, what did they do? They sang a song – Christ and that little church together singing a praise to God.
What did they do the night when He was betrayed? "The disciples were exceeding sorrowful, and they asked Him, saying, "Lord, is it I? Is it I?" [Matthew 26:21-22; Mark 14:18-19]. What would you answer? Our answer is, "Lord, it’s I, and it’s everybody. It’s everybody." There had to be a concrete hand – an agent. There had to be an instrument, and it happened to be the instrument, the agent’s name, was Iscariot [Matthew 26:14-25; Mark 14:10-11, 43-46]. But who betrayed Him? Iscariot? We all did – all the men who’ve ever lived, and all the men who shall yet live, they betrayed the Lord [1 John 2:2].
There are some people who would not associate with Judas Iscariot. "We’re better than he." And as long as it’s just amongst ourselves and betwixt ourselves, and as long as we measure ourselves by ourselves and compare ourselves with ourselves, why some of us are good and some of us are bad [2 Corinthians 10:12]. But in the sight of God there is just one fallen human nature, and that is you and that is I. We betrayed the Lord: all mankind [Romans 3:10-23, 6:23].
Judas Iscariot is a speck. He’s a piece of dust. The Lord could have cast him aside. If Jesus is the prey of a Judas, then He got involved with a plot. And if a gang worsted Him, then He just fell into the hand of murderers. But it’s not so. Iscariot was just an instrument. The gang that crucified Him were just people like ourselves: soldiers, rulers, men of state, men of religion, men of the church, men of the mercantile world, the sojourner and the traveler [Matthew 26:1-27:66; Mark 14:1-15:47; Luke 22:1-23:56; John 18:1-19:42]. They all had a hand. We all betray Him. That’s human nature: fallen.
There are some who say, "Oh, but in human nature we find nothing but excellence;" and they cajole it, and they pardon it, and they extenuate it, and they brag about it, and they compliment it, and they say all manner of marvelous things about humanity and human nature. That’s very fine to say, but we just quietly wait for the proof. They say, "Progressively, we are perfecting humanity."
No. Just looking at it, human nature has been vile and villainous. Human nature is an enmity against God [Romans 8:5-7]; and as far as a man can see in the long vistas of the future, human nature shall yet be and always is a damned and outcast and estranged thing from the holiness and the perfection of God [Romans 8:5-8; Galatians 5:17].
There is advancement in things – always is: from immaturity to maturity – like an automobile. But there is no sign, there is no evidence anywhere that at any time we ever progress from badness to goodness. We are as mean and as vile now as we were in the days of Abraham [Ecclesiastes 1:9]. And our plotting and our wars and our iniquities are as vicious and as terrible and as frightful and as ruthless and as merciless now as it ever was in the history of the world. We don’t get better. We just become more adept at using the instruments of destruction. Hate is still in us. Jealously is still in us. Greed is still in us [Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:18-19; Galatians 5:19-21]. All of those things that cursed our fathers curse us, and they curse our children [Exodus 20:5; 1 Peter 1:18]. We are a fallen people [Romans 5:12]. "Lord, is it I? Is it I?" Yes, it is I. It is we; it is all of us; it is everybody. We are a fallen people. We have betrayed the Lord.
"Pastor, what a bleak and tragic outlook for humanity, for us and our children." But the night that He was betrayed, He did something else. He gave to us an infinite and incomparably blessed and precious hope. "He took bread and brake it, ‘This is My body.’ He took the cup and said, ‘Share it, all of you, for this is My blood’" [from 1 Corinthians 11:23-25]. And for why? And for why? For the taking away of our sins – for the remission of our sins [Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22].
"Preacher, all that you’ve said about me is true and a thousand times beside. My heart is a house for devils, and there’s not a man out of hell who is more familiar with the pit than I. I know I have sinned. I know I have come short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:23]. Pilate, Peter, the drunkard in the gutter, the Sadducee presiding over the Sanhedrin: they are sinners. Lord, I am too. I have sinned and come short of the glory of God. What shall I do? What shall I do?
This is for sinners. If a man looks upon himself as being holy and unspotted, this is no place for him [Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32]. This is for sinners. If a man is proud and lifted up and thinks of himself above others, his fellow creatures, this is no place for him [Luke 18:9-17]. This is for sinners. If a man thinks he doesn’t need God and he doesn’t need Christ and he doesn’t need washing in the blood of the Lamb, this is no place for him. This is for sinners. I’ve done wrong, Lord, and I know it. I am sinful, Lord, and I confess it. I own up to it, Lord. You know me. This is for us who have fallen short of the glory of God. This is for the remission of sins.
"But, Pastor, it says here:
Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
So let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, because he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body.
[1 Corinthians 11:27-29]
And, Lord, I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy."
That is what God is talking about in His invitation. It’s an adverb: "Whosoever eats and drinks the body and blood of the Lord unworthily, in an unworthy manner" [1 Corinthians 11:27]: if he does it capriciously, if he does it lightsomely, jokingly, if he does it, fun, if he does it and the weight of it and the seriousness of it is lost upon him, then he does dishonor to the body of the Lord [1 Corinthians 11:29]. But if we come, sinners as we are, and eat and drink in the most earnest way that we know how, then the Lord is with us. His presence is here, and He blesses to the remission of our sins – His blood on the cross and His body nailed to the tree [1 Peter 2:24].
Nobody worthy to stand in the presence of God; nobody worthy to share this table – nobody [Isaiah 64:4]. It’s because we’re not worthy that we are invited to come. Lord, I too am a sinner. The Lord died for me [Romans 5:8]. I too am a sinner. Jesus shed His blood for me, and it’s because I’m lost and undone and can’t save myself that I take the bread and eat. I take the fruit of the vine and drink. I need a Savior, and I find that Savior in Christ.
The night He was betrayed He took bread, "Take, eat, this is My body" [1 Corinthians 11:23-24]. The night He was betrayed He took the cup, "This is the new promise, the new contract, the new covenant in My blood. For as oft as you eat the bread and drink the cup ye show," forth that blessed hope [1 Corinthians 11:25-26] when God in Christ shall drink it new with us at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-11], in the kingdom and the patience of Jesus [Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18].
Before we share these sacred and holy elements, the doors of the Kingdom of Christ are open wide. Somebody you, give his heart to Jesus. The doors of the church in this earth, in this place, are open wide. Somebody you, put your life with us in this ministry of the Lord Jesus. Would you do it? Would you make it now? Into the aisle, down to the front, by my side, "Here I am, Pastor. Tonight I’m coming, giving my heart in trust to the Lord Jesus," or, "Tonight I’m coming, putting my life here in the church. Here’s a family of us." Or one somebody: "Me. Here I come." As the Lord shall make the appeal, press it to your heart, while we wait and while we sing, would you make it now, as we stand, as we stand, and as we sing?