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John 13:18-30, Jesus Foretells His Betrayal

Wednesday, March 14

Reclining and Plotting

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Did you notice that the gospel mentions twice that John was reclining next to Jesus? Maybe means nothing. But maybe it's important. It establishes that the people Jesus was speaking with on this night were intimately tied to Jesus. They were his closest and fiercest friends. Which makes it all the more painful that it would be one of his closest friends that would betray him. 

Interpreters (and writers and readers) of the Bible often think in terms of black and white. In this instance, once Judas was called out by Jesus, the gospel says that Satan entered him. And indeed, it makes sense that the one who brought Jesus to his knees was considered as evil as evil gets. 

But then we're back to the intimacy Judas shared with Jesus prior to the events of the weekend. Was his love for Jesus staged? Were his years following Jesus all an act? I think not. I believe Judas was as loyal and devoted to Jesus as any. I also believe his actions were purposeful. He forced Jesus' hand to bring about the change Jesus had promised and they had worked for all these years. Nevertheless, his betrayal was heartbreaking and excruciating.

We can sit back in the comfort of our hindsight and demonize Judas. But we might be better served to consider our own thoughts, words, and actions. We too, can recline near Jesus, with intimacy and comfort in his presence. And at the same time, we can harbor disturbing, even "evil" plots in our hearts against Jesus, against our neighbors, against our enemies, against even ourselves. It would be quite human of us to recline and plot in the same breath. And in the end, Jesus moves forward knowing our hearts. He moves toward the cross anyway. He moves toward death for us.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 13:18-30

"I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. 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.