A reading from John chapter 13
After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. "One of you is going to betray me."
The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, "Master, who?"
Jesus said, "The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I've dipped it." Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.
"What you must do," said Jesus, "do. Do it and get it over with."
No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.
Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.
When he had left, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God's glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!
If we believe that Jesus knew all along what was going to happen, and if we believe that Judas was a mere puppet having to take his allotted role because he was part of the great plan laid down in Scripture, then I fear there can be no hope for us. This would mean that we are programmed, controlled, without freedom to grow or develop. It would also mean that we are quite beyond each other’s reach, unable to choose intimacy or separation, closeness or distance, love or indifference … So Jesus leaves the upper room and goes out into the night, his heart breaking for Judas and weighted down with sorrow at the apparent indifference of the others to Judas’ plight. It was as if they had been paralysed by the apparent powerlessness of his own love: if Jesus could not keep Judas within their company, what hope had they? For Jesus, I suggest it must have felt very different. Why was it, he must have asked himself, that nobody, not even John whom he loved so dearly, had been able to say to Judas: ‘We love you, you are one of us: where are you going? what are you intending to do?’ Why was it that not one of them had seen that Jesus’ impotent love needed the expression of theirs to regain its power? Why had they not been able to see that being truly human is impossible on your own?
O Jesus, stretch forth your wounded hands over your people to heal and to restore, and to draw us to yourself and to one another in love. Amen.
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