1 April 2015

John 13:21-32

“After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’” (v. 21)

Psalm: Psalm 70


Christian history has roundly condemned the person of Judas. So much so that Judas is equivalent to betrayer in English usage.

Yet Judas is not the only one to have betrayed Jesus. Peter is hardly better in his denial, and all the other ten abandoned Jesus after his arrest, so that he faces the cross alone.

Jesus is aware of this, and so is not surprised when the betrayal comes. Just as he predicts Judas' betrayal Jesus also predicts Peter's denial (John 13:38) and his abandonment by his disciples (John 16:32).

This fact is striking. Despite his knowledge of abandonment, denial and even betrayal by those whom he called to be disciples, Jesus calls them, and us, to love. "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

Jesus' awareness of his impending betrayal by one of his inner circle makes no impact on his love for his disciples. His knowledge that Peter, would deny all knowledge of him is similarly irrelevant. And even though all of his disciples would abandon him, despite their claim finally to believe in him, this too makes no difference.

It is a stark reminder of the significance and importance of divine love rooted not in our worthiness but rather in divine grace. The God who knows that we will let him down loves us not less but more.

The real challenge is whether we have the capacity to love those who let us down.

To Ponder

  • What are some of the ways in which we deny God's claim upon us?
  • Think back to a time when you betrayed someone you love, and in so doing betrayed God. This might be known to others, confessed and forgiven. It might be known only to you, a guilty secret that you carry. Offer it to God.
  • Is Judas as bad as we think? (NB the Greek word for betrayed is also the word for handing over.) What would you say to those who argue that Judas was simply doing his job in handing Jesus over? 


Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Calvin T Samuel

The Revd Dr Calvin T Samuel is a Methodist minister, currently stationed as Director of Wesley Study Centre, Durham - a Methodist theological institution which is part of St John's College within the University of Durham. Prior to this he was New Testament Tutor at Spurgeon's College in London and Chaplain to Farringtons School in Kent