John, Peter or Judas? Tuesday in Holy Week – John 13:21-33, 36-38

Most of us live in the belief that the problems we face are unique to our experience. We justify it by saying, “Oh you don’t know what I am going through.” That is far from the truth, for while I may not fully understand your situation, I can draw circles that overlap our human experiences of pain.

We tend to think of Jesus’ sufferings as far removed from ours. We get lost in his divinity and negate his humanity. We tend to assume that even though he ‘suffered,’ his sufferings could not be that bad because he is God. Right? No actually you’re wrong and several texts from scripture accurately present us with his humanity in order that we may not forget that we have one who suffered; suffered with us and for us.

If you read John 14:1, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God and believe in me.” That may sound a bit ironic when you read the text of today which tells us that “Jesus was troubled in spirit.” (John 13:21). Right away we know that the one who needed consolation, having experienced a troubled heart, goes on to offer us consolation in our hour of fear.

But what was it that troubled the heart of this gentle saviour? We know that fear of his suffering will engulf Jesus much later, in the Garden of Gethsemane but for now his heart is troubled because one of his closest is soon to betray him. That’s a harsh reality to face and that is a human experience many of us have had; a loved one who has stabbed us in the back.

But also in plain sight of this text is “the one whom Jesus loved.” What a lovely title to be known by. It’s not a title that Jesus gave like he did with Peter when he called him the rock. John was not bestowed with a title but rather he was known by this title. That says a lot; it speaks of the fact that everyone knew the love that Jesus had for John. Was there an unfair edge that John took advantage of? Think about it, Jesus could pierce hearts and if John tried to fool Jesus with his flummery he would have ended up like Judas. One can only conclude that John loved Jesus and Jesus loved him right back. Here is a question for you -Am I the one that Jesus loves, or is my claim to fame, ‘my love for Jesus?’

The text of John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus not only declared his betrayal but identifies his betrayer. Jesus announces that he will dip the bread into the dish and give it to the betrayer. This is the last supper. This is the supper at which the Lord instituted the Eucharist. This is the meal at which bread was transformed into his body.  Guess who was the first to receive Holy Communion at the hands of the Lord himself? Irony abounds…..

The scripture of today tells us that Judas received Christ’s body and yet he did not fight satan who entered into him after this. Jesus could see that even though Judas was nourished by the bread of life, he made a choice to follow the way of satan and Jesus had to let him make his choices. “Do quickly what you are going to do.”

I am not sure if the rest of the eleven had recovered from the shock of knowing that Judas was to betray Jesus or were in denial of tragedy that was unfolding quickly. They seem confused by Jesus’ instructions to Judas to do what he was to do and to do it quickly. In any case, this was a done deal. Scripture tells us that as soon as Judas left, “it was night.” Sin is darkness and when we walk out of the light we walk into darkness.

Finally, our narrative takes us to the words of Peter. Words that we have said time and time again, “I will lay down my life for you (Jesus).” It is beautiful to know that Jesus understands human frailty. It does not shock Jesus to know that we will fail him. He knew Peter would fail. After his resurrection he addressed Peter’s failing not with condemnation but renewal. Do you renew your love for me, “do you love me?”

The text has so much to reflect on. I have tears in my eyes as the thoughts flow and my fingers type. I could be John who was loved and loved in return. I could be Peter who loved, yet let fear take over (not the first time, he did it on the lake of Galilee too) and deny the Lord. I could be Judas who was the first to be given the Lord’s body at the first Eucharist and yet be the one who chose to betray the Lord. 

Spread the love ♥
Continue Reading