The Sop

David Bast

READ : John 13:21-30

It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread. (v. 26)

Most of us owe our image of the Last Supper to the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, with Jesus and the disciples lined up at the table. But in Jesus’ day, guests at an important dinner took their meal while reclining, Roman style, on couches which were placed perpendicular to the table. Each person would lean on their left elbow and eat with their right hand. The most important person had the couch at the center of the table. The choicest places were on either side of him. In the Upper Room, John the beloved disciple was on Jesus’ right, for he could lean back against Jesus (v. 25). This made it easy for John to speak privately with him, so when Jesus dropped his bombshell about the coming betrayal, Peter signaled John to ask Jesus who the traitor was. In reply, Jesus handed a piece of bread—the “sop” in King James language—to Judas, who was most likely on the other side of Jesus.

Why did Jesus do that? Two reasons come to mind. First, he was showing that he was fully aware of everything that was happening, yet without preventing Judas from determining his own destiny. I think that’s why Jesus’ actions were so cryptic and secretive. Not even Peter and John really understood everything until afterwards. The other reason is that even at this eleventh hour, Jesus was still giving Judas a final chance to stop, before he made an irrevocable choice.


Lord, for the times we betray you, have mercy.