Reading: John 13:21-32
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. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
Reflection: The Christian church treasures the Lord’s Supper in its various forms as a supreme expression of our fellowship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We tend to forget that in three of the Gospels the betrayal of Jesus is also directly and intimately involved in the Lord’s Supper (see Mark 14.17-21, Luke 22.21-23 and here in John 13). In the other Gospel the announcement of betrayal immediately follows the Supper (see Matthew 26.31).
John captures the pathos and the wonder of this in the artful combination of vss 30b and then vss 31 and 32.
And it was night (vs 30b). This stark and simple statement of fact summarises the whole situation late on that Thursday night. The die was set and Judas was on his way to summon the arrest party. Right in the heart of the community of Jesus at this moment of supreme ‘communion’ there was not only fellowship, and feasting, and solidarity and love, but also betrayal and suspicion, and selfishness and a startling lack of awareness and honesty. It doesn’t get darker than that!
And the community of Jesus is still like that in many ways. We too commit our betrayals, and protect our own interests and can be alarmingly witless about the failings of our common life. How often in the long and varied history of the people of God has that four-word judgment been attached to some colourful escapade or period of our history: And it was night?
And yet, and yet … in the depth and the darkness of that night, Jesus immediately speaks of glory, of the glorification of the Son of Man, and the glorification of God in the Son of Man. And that glorification is not some distant hope or future aspiration: God … will glorify him at once (vs 32).
It is good to remember – especially in the drama, betrayal and violence of Holy Week – that the field of God’s work contains both wheat and tares, and both remain. The church can have its dark side, and we sometimes find ourselves in the depths of the night, but the glory of God is never far away and can transform the darkness in an instant.