Text – John 13:21-32:
21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After he received the piece of bread,[c] Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him,[d] God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
In the first twelve chapters of John’s gospel, John is concerned with the public life and teachings of Jesus, but in chapters 13-17 the focus turns to Jesus’ preparation of his disciples for the trauma that is about to occur. The context of chapter 13 is the final meal (Passover) that Jesus ate with the disciples.
The meal occurs at night which may also have symbolic reference to the darkness of the period they were entering. The disciples are seated around the Passover table, and Jesus, the teacher and master, gets up, wraps the towel of a servant around his waist, and washes the feet of all twelve of the disciples.
John doesn’t give any details about the meal itself but focuses on the sacrificial behavior he wants his disciples to have. Then John says that Jesus was troubled and said, “One of you is going to betray me.” It went off like a thunder clap, “Who?” “The one I give this piece of bread to.”
Jesus gives it to Judas and then says, “Do quickly what you are going to do,” a reference to the approaching betrayal by Judas. Lest we see Jesus as a helpless victim of all this, Jesus reminded his disciples that “no one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord.”
A couple of things to remember from this reading are 1) that Jesus modeled a life of total service to others, always putting others’ needs above his own, and 2) Jesus willingly gave his life up for us. He knew that he was the only person who could complete the task that lay ahead of him.
This Lent, let us be reminded of what the crucifixion cost Jesus and how we, of our own accord, may take up our own crosses or NOT.
God of the Towel. We know your reputation. Sacrificing for us all to the point of Incarnating Jesus, facing the ridicule and hatred of the people you created. Now in Lent, in what we call Holy Week, help us to enter into your suffering and sacrifice. May we give up our selfish inclinations and build our life on yours. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.