John 13:18-30 – Hoc Est Corpus

52 Weeks at the Table – Week 43

John’s gospel takes whole chapters to describe what took place at Jesus’ last supper, from the washing of feet to entire conversations about the Holy Spirit and what else is to come for His disciples. One of the details John shares is a unique description of a single moment that takes place at the paschal meal, possibly at the end when the hidden matzoh is brought out to close the meal, and when Jesus hands it to someone close to Him, John says: “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.” (John 13:27)

At that point of betrayal, John reveals that there’s no magic in the matzoh. There’s no wizardry in the wine. There’s no “hocus pocus” in the Latin phrase hoc est corpus – “This is the body.” There’s no intrinsic protection from the Evil One in the emblems of this meal. Like Judas, who took the bread and went out the door a couple of verses later, we can take this bread and walk out the doors of our church and betray our Lord any number of ways. Or …

We can choose to be changed. We can become what we eat, just as the old saying goes: “You are what you eat.” As believers, we are Whom we consume. We can become the Body of Christ. We can be living witnesses outside the walls to His brutal crucifixion, His entombment until the third day, His glorious resurrection that guarantees our own – just as we are when we share this meal; when we dine on the divine.

A Prayer Over the Bread

To You, our God, be praise and glory forever – for You have given as no one else can give: Life to the lifeless through the lifeless body of Your Son, Jesus, restored to life on the third day after death. We accept that life as we accept this bread, its symbol. May His life give us life anew; life with purpose and courage to be like Him in every way You enable us. We beg this blessing in His name: Amen.


A Prayer Over the Cup

Change us, o God, through the blood of Christ: given on the cross from His head, hands, and feet so that our heads might always bow in reverence, our hands might always be eager to serve, and our feet may always be swift to carry His gospel. Bless this cup, the symbol of His blood, as its contents enter us and become our blood, and our hearts make it flow in worship to You and witness to others that it is His blood flowing in us. We crave this favor in Jesus’ name: Amen.

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