Wednesday of Holy Week, March 27

Wednesday, March 27 in Holy Week  

Scripture: John 13:21-32

21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once.

Some thoughts:

     This pericope is filled with so much richness. Put yourself among the disciples. The hand selected twelve are having a meal with rabbi Jesus with whom they have been traveling and living together the past three years. They are sharing what turns out to be their last meal together, though the disciples don’t know it at this point. In Middle Eastern custom, the host will in some cases, dip bread in a bowl and give it to the honored guest. At any rate, dipping food in a common bowl is a sign of close friendship. The concept even carries over to today. The disciples would not have thought anything unusual for Jesus to do this and then give the sop to Judas. Jesus told them that one of them would betray him, yet they wondered what he meant.

     Betrayal is based on deep trust. The betrayer must have gained complete trust in the one who is to be betrayed, which is probably why the betrayal by Judas didn’t compute with the rest of the disciples, though Jesus certainly knew what Judas was about to do. Remember, John wrote this gospel after everything had happened with Judas.

     Second, recall at Jesus’ temptation, the devil left for a more “opportune” time. Here was an opportune time. Satan entered the body of Judas, a singularly rare occurrence in all of Scripture where this truth is stated so bluntly. Judas was truly possessed by the devil. Jesus, knowing fully what Judas was about to do, told him to get on with it quickly. What must Judas have thought knowing the one who had just washed his feet also knew of his mission of betrayal? The devil is relentless in his attempts to cause sin to abound in people’s lives believers and non-believers alike as evidenced throughout the world today.

     There is a third interesting observation. You’ll recall in the plagues of Egypt at the time of the Exodus. The ninth plague was the one of darkness which fell over the whole land. The final plague resulted in the death of all the firstborn throughout the land except where the blood of the lamb had been applied over the doorposts at the homes of the Israelites. Following receiving the sop from Jesus, Judas went “out into the night,” out into darkness. As in the Exodus, what followed Judas’ going out into the darkness was the death of the Firstborn of all creation (Col 1:18), the Lamb of God, whose spattered blood on the doorposts of people’s hearts covered their sins for all time as they were spared an eternal death. Those not covered by the blood of the Lamb, suffer that same fate as the Esyptians. Then at the death of the Lamb, like in Egypt fourteen hundred years earlier, darkness again fell over the land as God brought about judgment and laid claim to all the firstborn who had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The final atonement was made, death was destroyed, defeated, annihilated forever! Once again, the devil failed in his attempt to thwart the plan of God to redeem and restore his fallen creation. As John had earlier written, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” . . . ever.

Music: “Agnus Dei” Samuel Barber, Vlaams Radiokoor (Flemish Radio Choir)

“Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.”

“Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.”

“Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”

Prayer: O God my Father, let Thy Holy Spirit rule in my heart. As I pray, let not any room within me be closed to keep Thee out. O Light that never fades, so let me open to Thee the windows of my heart, that all my life may be filled by the radiance of Thy presence. Let no corner of my being be unillumined by the light of Thy countenance. Let there be nothing within me to darken the brightness of the day. Let the Spirit of Him whose life was the light of men rule within my heart till eventide. Let me not be holding some undertaking on which I dare not ask Thy blessing. O Holy Spirit of God, let me not return to evil thoughts and worldly ways, but let that mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.            —John Baillie, from A Diary of Private Prayer and unknown source, adapted Daniel Sharp