"Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “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.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him." - John 13:20-31
In this passage, the greatest love story ever lived continues. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lovingly gathers his beloved disciples to share a final meal. He prepares them for what lies ahead on his journey to the cross, for his departure from them, and for their mission of love after his death and resurrection. The loving relationship among Jesus and his disciples is evident by the relaxed, intimate atmosphere of the meal. The disciple whom he loves is seated next to him. Judas’ proximity is suggested when Jesus puts the bread into his mouth. Jesus has taken the role of a lowly servant and washed the feet of his beloved disciples. Indeed, he is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep.
Please note that Jesus was deeply troubled in his spirit as He contemplates the betrayal by one of his beloved disciples and the devastating destruction of death that lies ahead. Jesus Christ was fully human, not a demigod, not a god disguised as a human being. This will be more vividly portrayed in Jesus’ struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. He points out that “one of you” will betray me inducing anxiety and insecurity in all of them. John and Luke depict the disciples looking outward seeking the traitor’s identity among the other disciples. In contrast, in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, the disciples search their hearts and ask, “Is it I?” May we be your people who choose to search our hearts instead of blaming and vilifying others when faced with real or imagined betrayal.
A celestial drama is also playing out as Satan enters Judas when he makes the decision to betray his Master, an act is of his free will. “And it was night.” The light of Jesus was temporarily darkened by Satan, the force of evil. Jesus, our King and Savior, made the decision to enter fully the tragedy of humanity, to experience our fear, our feelings of abandonment, our aloneness, our despair, our shame in order to reveal God’s plan of love for the world. Thus, Jesus tells Judas, “Hurry, do it now.”
Jesus knows that his time has come and that the glory of God will soon surround him. In his death and resurrection, Jesus wins the ultimate battle over evil and is crowned as King and Lord of the Universe. “No one can show greater love than this, that he lay down his life for those he loves.” John 15:13. Jesus is King and Good Shepherd and his purposes will not be overcome by darkness. He has come to redeem Judas, his betrayer, as well as you and me. What greater love than this? There is none. Thanks be to God!
Dear Lord, our King and our Good Shepherd,
We cannot fathom the depth of your love for us. However, you reveal it to us in the events surrounding Jesus’ journey to the cross, his death, and his resurrection.
We give thanks that You still reign as King of the Universe through all the troubled and divisive times we are experiencing. When our faith falters, strengthen our faith.
You see our feeble attempts to love those who have different beliefs and feel threatening. Be with us, mold us into the image of your love, which we are powerless to do on our own. Help us to develop the fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May we become your instruments to bring your love and peace into these turbulent times. We await with great anticipation and joy the day your peace and love will reign over all the earth.
In Christ Jesus name we pray, Amen.