Today’s Gospel, John 13:21-30, is one that has been discussed, meditated upon and discussed even again. Today, once more, we meditate on the story. “At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”…”Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”… So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. The writer of John is making a point that it was night. Why? Is he implying that Judas was walking in darkness rather than light at the time he left the table?
What was Judas’ motive? Some say, he may have been trying to save Jesus’ life from the crowds that were becoming agitated and likely to become violent. Others say that he was trying to force Jesus into His role as King over Israel and so overthrow the Romans. Maybe he wanted to save Jesus’ reputation. Some Orthodox churches call Judas a saint because he was the one who did what had to be done. None of these reasons or motives make any difference to the fact that Judas betrayed his Lord.
The drama marches on and Jesus knows that it is the fullness of time. God is using what Judas is doing for his own purposes and Judas has no clue. Jesus is not meeting Judas’ expectations. Whatever reason he had when he took the bread from Jesus, the tempter came and Judas made a decision to take matters into his own hands. This story would go on with or without Judas, but how sad that the hand of a friend brought it about.
A thought this morning is that in the Eucharist, when Jesus breaks and gives us bread, he says, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.” And, often, we betray him, too. When? Like Judas, when the tempter comes to us and we take matters into our own hands—when we tell Jesus that we’ll take it from here, we’d rather do it ourselves—when he isn’t working fast enough for us—when he is not the Messiah we want—when we want to do things according to our plan rather than waiting for his, etc. When we don’t live according to his teachings. When we distort his image. We know when.
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee. ‘Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee! I crucified Thee.—HYMNBOOK, Page 158
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.