One of you is going to betray me…
Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples is, of course, an essential theme of Holy Week, but our reading today – John 13 vv.20-32 – shows us that it was not necessarily a positive, straightforward meal. Being good Anglicans (well, some of us…) we can make our own celebration of The Lord’s Supper quite decorous and forget the hard centre it contains - One of you is going to betray me…
Jesus looks around him at the table and sees into the desires of his friends, and one of them nurtures a deeply warped desire, to betray Jesus...
So, this meal becomes not just a meal of remembrance, but also a meal of betrayal. How do we feel about that? This year we cannot gather, as we might be used to do on Maundy Thursday, to relive that Last Supper with other Christians. But we can take some of the time that has been gifted to us and imagine ourselves into that moment when Jesus speaks of betrayal. The pain Jesus experiences does not just come from those who are his obvious opponents, the Chief Priests and Roman authorities. The betrayal comes from within his immediate circle, the group of hand-picked followers and friends.
Self-examination therefore has to be part of our Holy Week meditation – where might we be liable to betray Jesus? How much do we want to remove the difficult bits from this story of Holy Week because they might be too hard for us to face up to?
The other side of the meal, of course, is there in vv.31-32. If the Last Supper is about betrayal, it is also about glory. Somehow this awful betrayal is not outside God’s plan for these days; somehow in the betraying and the suffering, Jesus is glorified and reveals the glory of God to the whole world.
None of this can be explained neatly…all the more reason, then, to take time to meditate on it and examine ourselves in the light of Jesus.
Lord God, we tremble to think That it was one of Jesus’ own friends who betrayed him. One who sat by him, who broke bread with him.
Give us strength, we pray, to walk faithfully with Jesus, Even when the road we walk is rocky Even when the message of the cross seems like foolishness and even when we feel betrayed.
You, Lord, are always faithful. We stumble, we become lost, but you are steady and sure.
Give us the grace to endure our troubles, and reveal to us the glory of your kingdom, Through your son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rachel Marie Stone