Wednesday of Holy Week
April 05, 2023
John 13: 21-32
The reading for today recounts the announcement by Jesus at the last supper that one of his disciples will betray him. The scene is famously depicted in Leonardo DaVinci’s painting “The Last Supper.” Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet and exhorted them to do likewise with one another. After telling them this, he became troubled in spirit and announced that one of them will betray him. Perhaps he was troubled because the weight of the sins of the world was beginning to be felt by him more acutely. Perhaps he was troubled by the fact that one whom he had made his own was about to betray him and turn him over to suffering and death on a cross. Perhaps both, and more. Nevertheless, after Jesus made the announcement, the disciples were at a loss over whom Jesus meant. Peter motioned for John, who was reclining next to Jesus, to ask him. Jesus told John it would be the disciple to whom he gave bread. And, then dipping the bread in oil, Jesus gave it to Judas and said, “what you are about to do, do quickly.” The scripture said that when Judas took the bread Satan entered into him. Judas left and it was night. Jesus says that now he is and will be glorified and God is and will be glorified in him and with him.
In reflecting on this reading, I was briefly interested in what light it shed on the theological debate regarding free will versus predestination but I quickly abandoned that train of thought. What interested me more was the reaction of the disciples to the announcement of a betrayer. In Matthew’s gospel the disciples all ask, “is it me?” John’s gospel doesn’t contain such overt expressions of guilt but, in the puzzlement of the disciples, I detect a sense of guilt, nevertheless. The reaction of the disciples carries with it a tacit acknowledgement of their capacity to betray Jesus. And, sure enough, Peter goes on to deny Jesus three times and only John and the women accompany Jesus to his crucifixion. Almost all his disciples betray him one way or another.
I am no better than those disciples. I have given my life to Jesus and claim to be his follower, yet I repeatedly take my life back and head out on my own path. Whether out of pride, avarice, or fear, I don’t put my whole trust in his grace and love. I take the bread he offers, and yet Satan enters into me. Lord, forgive me.
Lord, help me to renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that corrupt me. Lord, help me to repent and return to you.