Was Judas part of the group when Jesus instituted the remembrance service?
None will argue that Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was there for the (Passover) supper. But, was Judas part of the group that Jesus broke the bread with as a symbol of His body and shared the cup with as a symbol of his blood?
And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me.Matthew 26:23
So we see Matthew mentions that Judas was at least eating with Jesus. We also see in Matthew that Judas must have left at some point since later on, he states:
“Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”Matthew 26:46
John places Judas leaving sometime after Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and after laying down to eat but before he begins speaking intimately regarding coming things (John 13:1-30).
Mark states that after Jesus spoke of the bread as a symbol of His body, they all partook. So, according to Mark, either Judas took the bread and left at that point or he took from the cup as well.
While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”Mark 14:22-25
Luke gives a detail that makes it more difficult to say Judas did not share in the inaugural communion service:
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.Luke 22:19-22
In this passage, we see clearly that when Jesus breaks the bread and explains the symbolism of it and after he takes the cup, explaining it represents His blood, He asks them to do it in remembrance of Him. Judas was present when Jesus institutes the first breaking of bread since Jesus Himself acknowledges he is there, but, Luke does not actually say Judas drank of the cup.
The importance of the betrayer being intimate is stressed in another passage as well. This shows the betrayal to be so wrong.
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.Psalm 41:9
The question we have to ask ourselves is, why did Jesus let Judas into his inner group at all? Jesus knew that Judas was not a believer. He knew that Judas would betray him. Judas is called the son of perdition! (Jn 17:12) I have to be honest here, I’d rather Jesus had not let Judas partake of this remembrance since it seems to ‘cloud the waters’ as it were. Why is Judas, an unbeliever, attending something that is intended for believers? Yet, instantly I am reminded of the reality that neither do I deserve to be sitting at the table with Christ, sharing in identifying with Him.
One reason the Father allowed it may have been to authenticate Jesus and his message. In fact, after betraying the Savior and after having lived and traveled with him for about 3 years, he gave credence of who he knew Jesus to be:
saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!”Matthew 27:4
That is strong circumstantial evidence to show that Jesus was truly authentic. He was at least, in Judas’ estimation, an innocent man, otherwise, Judas would not have said these words to the very ones that paid him. Even worse, Judas would not have hung himself for a person he considered guilty of any wrongdoing.
There can be no doubt that Jesus reserved his preparatory words for the believing disciples once Judas had left.
Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:31-35
The Gospel of John records this important teaching of the upper room discourse following these verses and it continues to the end of chapter 17. This is teaching directed to those who would lay the foundation for the church, the apostles. It is crucial instructions from Jesus to his disciples, and so we can appreciate why Jesus waited for Judas to leave before he started speaking of these matters. Notice for instance, how chapter 17 contains terminology of His own vs those of the world etc.
Based on what I understand from the Text, I have to conclude (unless I’m shown otherwise) that Judas was there in the establishment of the first breaking of bread communion service. Does this have doctrinal ramifications? No. Does it affect in any way the way communion should be practiced within the local church? No, since what is taught is that it be done in remembrance of Him. Obviously this directive is to disciples (the church) but there’s ample liberty as to how each church is to apply that. The important thing is that the elements would be present (the bread representing His broken body and the cup representing His blood. This, of course, takes us back to the Good News, that Jesus Christ, the God-man, died for our sins and rose again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4).