At supper with his friends, 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.”
“And it was night”. What a wonderfully dramatic piece of writing. Jesus dismisses Judas to his task. Jesus does not try to talk him out of it, he does not prevent Judas from leaving and we are left feeling sad. Sad that we start with a supper with friends which turns into talk of betrayal and the moment when Judas walks away from Jesus to choose a different sort of path.
Some people get very caught up in the question of what happened to Judas eternally, was forgiveness ever possible for him? We simply cannot fathom the mind of God on that one and dwelling on it might give us an excuse to avoid thinking into the character and place of Judas, rather than just writing him off.
Broken relationships and betrayals are nothing new for human beings. There can be few of us who have never endangered a friendship or hurt a loved one because we were hurting, or afraid, or stubborn or greedy. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we might have pushed too far and become deliberately hurtful or devious. Jesus knows human nature all too well and I cannot but imagine he is heartbroken as he watches the door close behind Judas.
This is the same heartbreak that Jesus feels when we walk away from the table, literally, emotionally or figuratively. “Come and eat” He invites. Do we eat heartily, amazed at this time and place, or do we pick at our food, just itching to get out of there and get on with whatever it is we would rather be doing? How often does Jesus sigh as He watches us head out into the night time of our own wills and opinions?
Sit with the disciples at the table and watch awhile. Take in the moment. How do you feel, what do you see? Then there is a conversation which you do not hear properly and Judas leaves. How does he look, his face, his body language – is he a man walking to victory or is he broken. Now look at Jesus. What is his expression as he watches Judas leave.
Where are you in all of this?
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving kindness which hath been ever of old. O remember not the sins and offences of my youth, but according to thy mercy, think Thou on me, O Lord.