Wednesday 16 April 2014

Bible Book:

“One of you will betray me” (v. 21)

John 13:21-32 Wednesday 16 April 2014


A theme of yesterday's passage (link) is picked up here,and made more specific. Jesus is the Son of Man (which means theman from heaven, and humanity's representative in heaven) who hasbeen glorified by God when he became flesh on earth (John1:14) in a life which is now culminating in him handing himselfover to death on a cross. In doing that, he is fulfilling the willof God, which means that God is glorified in him by what he does(verse 31). Moreover, this is not a novelty, but part of God'snature. If God has glorified the Son of Man on earth, then God willalso glorify him in heaven (verse 32), not just when he is raisedto life, but now as he is raised up in glorious victory on thecross.

But if so, there must be a sense in which Jesusis managing the process or arranging what happens. Jesus knows thatJudas will betray him, yet he still washes Judas' feet (John13:10-12). At the very least, he consents to what Judas will do(John 13:18). He gives Judas permission to goand do it (verse 27). There is a sense in which since God has sentJesus, and Jesus has now sent Judas, those who do a deal with Judashave Jesus and God placed into their hands for them to do theirworst to them - and that this is in accordance with the will of God(John 13:20).

Does the fact that by his actions Judas helpsto fulfil the will of God absolve him from responsibility? No. Onanother level, Judas' role of being a useful interface between thetwelve disciples and the economic dealings of the world around himhas opened him up to the unacceptable face of the world. Firstcomes the thought of betraying Jesus (John13:2), then the impulse to actually do it (verse 27).

Jesus knows what Judas must do. He tellseveryone that one of them will betray him, but does not name theperson (verse 21). They speculate wildly, but when Jesus tellsJudas to go and do what he has to do, they only interpret it asmeaning that Jesus wants Judas to go and purchase what they needfor the Passover festivities, or that he should go and give alms tothe poor (verses 22, 27-29). Only the beloved disciple is told whatJesus really means (verses 23-26). Peter is not. Similarly, it willbe the beloved disciple who gets to the empty tomb of Jesus beforePeter, and believes before Peter (John20:1-8); and it will be the beloved disciple who recognises therisen Jesus before Peter does (John21:4-7).

When Judas goes out, it is dark - physically,morally and spiritually.

To Ponder

  • With whom do you identify in this story, and why?
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