deep, dark night | John 13.28-30
Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
John 13:28-30 | ESV
No one at the table had a clue as to what Jesus was talking about – and none at that table connected the dots of betrayal and the present errand of Judas (well, except John). Most assumed that, since Judas was held the finances for the group, Jesus was just telling him, “We’re running out – go buy what we need for our feast!” Or perhaps it was an errand of mercy for some poor soul. But when Judas swallowed that bitter herb, he was out of there. Deep, dark night awaited him. MAV
I am so ready to move on from the darker shades of the upper room.
I am ready for a brightening, a lightening. But one more day we linger here.
This is crucial business for us in the upper room. Failing to take the time to do this necessary work, to accept the betrayal, embrace the disappointments and heartbreak that will be found wherever human beings gather (especially when it’s in the name of Jesus!), will result only in caricature, our own cobbled together Frankenstein community. The church must have its traitors and heretics, and we must learn to wash their feet. Take in these words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, spoken in the crucible of true community experienced and fostered in the “illegal seminary” at Finkenwalde in prewar Germany:
“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly.
It is not we who build.
Christ builds the church.
Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it.
We must confess he builds.
We must proclaim, he builds.
We must pray to him, and he will build.
We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”
What is your own “dream of community”? How have you had to sacrifice it to embrace the reality of the people you actually live with? How do you need to sacrifice it still?
Lord, set my spirit free to serve others scandalously, spontaneously, extravagantly, without calculating the cost in dollars or in dignity. Free me to love. Now. Today. As you hold before me the basin and the towel. Through Christ.