what you do, do quickly | John 13.21-27
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” John 13:21-27 | ESV
No sooner had he said this, than a profound change came over him – and not for the better. It looked like he was being torn apart inside. Scripture may have foretold this, but it hadn’t prepared him for this moment. As all eyes were glued to him, he solemnly warned them, “It’s true, oh yes it’s true: One of you will betray me.” The grim forecast hung in the air before their disbelieving eyes that now turned to each other, each searching the other’s face, one after another, being at a total loss which of them this could be.
In the midst of the ensuing confusion and murmuring of voices, one of them continued to lean in close to him, leaning back on the heart of Jesus – the one who always enjoyed a unique place in his friendship and affections. It is to this one that Simon (you know, Peter) now motions on the far side of the triclinium; motioning for him to find out whom in the world Jesus was talking about. And so as he leaned back on Jesus’ chest this way, he whispers to him, “Lord, who is it?” Drowned out by the ongoing hum of confusion in the room, Jesus whispers back, “This will tag him for you: watch me slip the matzah dipped in the bitter maror right into his mouth.” Jesus dipped into the bitter herb, and then placed it right on his tongue: Judas. Simon. Iscariot. And none at the table were wiser for it – none but that one close disciple saw Judas tagged. But Satan tagged him too, right at that moment, moving in for the kill.
It was then that Jesus dismissed him so all present could hear: “You have a job to do, and you best get to it. Now.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Yes. Misunderstandings and outright betrayals are a fact of our life together which we simply cannot escape.
God and the heavenly court have their Satan,
Moses his Korah, David his Absalom (and his Ahithophel),
our Founding Fathers their Benedict Arnold,
the Allies in WW2 their Quisling,
Frodo and Sam their Gollum,
the Fellowship its Boromir.
And Jesus had his Judas.
To imagine it playing out before your mind, you must imagine the Greco-Roman triclinium (pictured, right), rather than the long table of Da Vinci’s Last Supper. The head of the table is on the right wing of the “U”, the second spot being the chief seat, with the seat of honor being at the immediate right, the person occupying that spot being said to lie “in the bosom” of the host, as he could lean right back on the chest of the host where they could whisper sweet nothings. On the left of the host would be the second honored spot – the host could literally lean back on that person’s chest and, say, put a morsel in his mouth if he so wished. Putting our characters in this setting, we would have Jesus in the host spot, John “the beloved” to his right, Judas to his left (no wonder no one suspected him!) – and Peter at the “foot” across from them all on the other couch, motioning for John to ask Jesus who it was.
Few scenes more sacred than this, few meals more holy.
And yet a traitor was revealed, and Satan joined the guests in his heart.
The upper room is a place of betrayal, too. Accept it.
And here’s the kicker: Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer too – perhaps more tenderly than any other pair of feet that evening. Just watching this scene, what lessons we can learn about how to handle our own dark, painful moments of betrayal and hurt.
When have you experienced betrayal in your life? How did you handle being betrayed and hurt? How have you handled your betrayer?
Lord, you have experienced betrayal on a level hard for me to fully fathom. Show me how to walk through its fires myself, and rather than being burned or burning, to be refined through it so that I only blaze with your light and life. Through Jesus.