“After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples–the one whom Jesus loved–was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.
So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:21 – 25)
Beloved, dependable comrade, and nemesis – all together in the same room, and at the same table. Each with an important role to play. We know who the dependable comrade is – Peter. And we know who the nemesis is – Judas. But who, do you imagine is “the one whom Jesus loved”? Scriptures do not tell us outright but commentators have hinted it might have been Mark. Other sources would point us in an entirely different direction. No matter. The stage is set.
“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. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 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. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.” (Verses 26 – 30)
Some questions come to mind. Did Judas know that Jesus suspected (or knew) that Judas had already set on the course to betray him? Had Judas truly made up his mind that he was going to? Was this the pivotal moment, and could it have been avoided? Was “Satan” truly the motivator of Judas, or is “Satan” just a term given to the human weakness that was already a part of Judas’ personality?
I want to set up an allegory, beloved reader. I am a fan of some types of mystery stories, amongst other genres. When reading a mystery (or many other types of books) I succumb to the temptation to skip ahead and see how the story ends. Then, as I am reading the story, I am heightened in my awareness to see how the ending will come about – who the suspect turns out to be, is there a happy ending for the hero/heroine, does the antagonist get his/her/their comeuppance? So too, I think, it is with Judas. We look to see where along the way this disciple took a wrong turn. Or was he always destined for the role? Everyone has a role to play.
“When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.” (Verses 31 – 32)
Everyone has a role to play. The near completion of Jesus’ role is at hand – his death. But his role goes beyond that to resurrection and the introduction of eternal life. Peter’s role will change drastically – not once but twice. Judas’s role is the one that is closet to the end. And a sad ending it is. But it was a role that needed to be carried out in order for Jesus’ role in life, death, and resurrection to come about. Even Peter’s role was dependent on Judas doing quickly what he was set to do. The role of the disciple that Jesus loved . . . . was to be there for Jesus; to establish a tie between Jesus’ humanity and the endless capacity for love that has not boundaries or conditions. Everyone, beloved reader, has a role to play.
Sometimes our role in life in not easy, and we cry out . . .
“Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O LORD, make haste to help me! Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life. Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire to hurt me. Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!” turn back because of their shame. Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!” (Psalm 70)
The nemeses and antagonists in our life actually test us and strengthen us, and give the Divine the opportunity to show the glory of the Divine by reaching down to us where we are. And the Divine’s actions and intentions towards us are seen by others, depending on who they are, inform and confirm their faith or give them the opportunity to accept faith in Jesus Christ and the Lord God.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Everyone, beloved reader, has a role to play. What is yours? Shalom & Selah!