Making bad choices – Thursday, 4th Week in Easter – Acts 13:13-25/ John 13:16-20

Read also based on the first reading of today.

The Gospel of John is broadly divided into four sections. The prologue: 1:1-18, the book of signs 1:19-12:50, which covers the seven signs that Jesus worked. We then have the book of Glory -13:1-20:31 and finally the epilogue: 21:1-25. Our text of today is from the book of Glory that covers the supper at which Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and then launches into a long private teaching with his disciples; this is also call the ‘farewell discourse’. Finally, the book of Glory ends with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Our text is the tail end of the washing of the feet. Jesus has commanded his disciples to do as he has done and he chose to become slave and wash the feet of the disciples. What Jesus has done in effect, is to precede practice before the theory lesson. In most cases, one is subjected to the theory class before one is sent to a practical session. Christ washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them the principle by which the disciples must live. By human standards, a servant or a messenger is not greater than the master or the one who has sent the messenger, yet the Christians is not to operate in this way. A Christian disciple must live the commandment to imitate Christ and wash the feet of the slave. This is love in service, love in action!

Yet this is not an easy teaching (as are many of Christ’s). Jesus said to his disciples., “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do it.” There are two IF’s in the sentence. Waving a Baptism certificate does not make you a disciple and even more, a disciple may not put Christ’s teachings in practice. The true disciples is the one who ‘hears the word of God and does it.’

Christ knew that every disciple is not devoted to him. He cites Judas (though not mentioned by name) as a case in point. Christ chose Judas and he says it, “I know whom I have chosen.” It is not that Christ made poor choices; he chose Judas to fulfill the scriptures. This does not make Judas a pawn of God or a victim of God’s plan but rather Judas had long given his soul to the devil. We are told in hindsight that he used to help himself to the common fund.

It is this betrayer who would sit at the most intimate gathering of love; at the last supper and yet choose to give in to satan’s temptation rather than the humble gesture of love and service that Jesus invited him to imitate. Judas made a choice; a very, very bad choice. Christ describes this bad choice as ‘the one who ate his bread and now lifts his heel’ in an attempt to kick and strike the Lord in rejection. How heavy that sentence should way on all our souls when we too have lifted our heal against the Lord when we chose the world over his commands.

Jesus was not looking for a group intervention or a counselling session for Judas. He was simply making clear that this was to happen and remembering the course of events the apostles may believe. The faith is transmitted through the Gospels so that we too may believe and in believing be saved.

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