Matthew 26:1-5; 14-16; John 13:21-30 (Click to read passage)
Meals are very important social events. I have observed several cultures and in many cultures around the world, sitting with someone and having a meal together symbolizes peace, friendship and safety. This is why when people go to a cafeteria, they try to find a group of people they feel comfortable with. We are looking for a place where we can safely eat together.
In today’s passage, we have read about Judas’ betrayal. The Greek word for betray means to “hand over to a person’s enemies”. If a person was caught by one’s enemies while doing nothing is one thing. Even if a person was caught by the enemy while fleeing is bad, but not personal. But if you were being handed over to your enemies by someone who was an intimate friend would be an especially painful experience. Intimacy requires trust and a faith that the person you are in a relationship will not harm you. It’s an especially vulnerable experience because to be friends with someone, you would have to lower your guard with them in order to be friends. That’s part of the definition of a friend. Someone you trust.
Judas was not a stranger to Jesus or the other disciples. He was one of the twelve disciples. About three years earlier, Jesus had spent a whole night in prayer to discern who would be part of his inner circle. The next morning, when Jesus appointed the twelve disciples, Judas was listed right there with the rest of them. Judas had the privilege to spend every day with the Master for three years. But in the end, though Judas was physically with Jesus, Judas’ heart was not.
The different Gospels portray Judas as a man who was motivated by a desire for money. The Pharisees were happy that they had an inside person who could help arrange it so that Jesus could be arrested quietly and without drawing much attention to himself. And so, Judas agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver- not a lot of money.
The night of the Passover, Jesus and the disciples had their Last Supper together. The Apostle John tells us that Jesus knew that he was going to be betrayed and crucified soon. As a demonstration of his love for his disciples, Jesus washed their feet. This was a task normally reserved for the lowliest of servants. In an act of humble love, John tells us that Jesus loved his disciples to the end. Judas was among those whose feet were washed.
After this act of love, Jesus tells the group that one of them will betray him. He indicates that it is Judas by giving Judas a piece of bread
dipped in wine. The significance of this act was not to say that the piece of bread was magical or had some sort of power. But it was simply to show the intimate relationship Jesus had with Judas. In spite of Jesus’ love, Judas was going to make his own choice to go into the darkness.
Often when people think of Jesus’ suffering, they mainly focus on Jesus’ physical suffering. But Christ’s suffering was not just limited to the physical. Those of us who know what it is like to pour your heart into someone only to have them betray you understand the sting and the pain. It almost feels as if you could never be vulnerable to another human being again. But with Christ we must remember that his suffering was unique. Jesus’ suffering was for us. Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed. He knew that the Father was going to use Judas’ betrayal as the way he would go to the cross. But Christ willingly obeyed the Father’s will. In the midst of this, Jesus didn’t lash out. He didn’t run away. He faced the pain and the hurt. He kept the goal in mind. He did this in order to be our savior.
Questions for Meditation:
- Have you ever experienced being betrayed? What was it like?
- How does it make you feel knowing that Christ knows what it is like to be betrayed?
- How can we see the power of God to be able to use suffering and the betrayal of Jesus for our good? What does this say about the suffering we face while living life?