A personal reflection, based on John 13.21-32, preached with the people of Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC, on Wednesday in Holy Week, April 17, 2019
From a human point of view, I always find it to be an incredibility, something beyond my reason, beyond my common sense that Jesus, knowing Judas was to betray him, allowed him to depart to fulfill his dastardly deed.
Had I been Jesus, I would have said to my disciples, “Get him!” perhaps, “Kill him!” at the least, “Don’t let him leave!”
But Jesus, from a divine point of view of the destiny of redemption, knew that his death would fulfill the work of saving the world from eternal disaster. Jesus knew that in his dying and rising he would face and defeat death. For death would not, could not keep him dead. Thus, he spoke, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”
Reading on in the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus continues to prepare his disciples for his exodus, his departure from them, offering his greatest commandment: “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(1)
As long as I live and as long as I follow Jesus, this commandment remains. I am to love others. Any and all people. All of the time. In the mundane, even menial acts of service and, should an occasion demand, in great heroic, risk-taking, potentially life-losing sacrifice.
For, as for my Lord Jesus, so for me, his disciple, as precious as life is, dying to my life in this world isn’t the worst thing that can happen to me. Rather, I have come to believe, the worst thing that can happen to me is dying, which all must and will do, without a greater cause or purpose or love than myself.
(1) John 13.34-35
Illustration: The Last Supper, Benjamin West, 1786. Note: West’s portrayal of the Last Supper depicts Jesus, with bread in his left hand, having served the brooding, traitorous Judas Iscariot, who, hearing Jesus’ bidding, “Do quickly what you are going to do,” is on his way out to betray Jesus. Also, to Jesus’ left is the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” who, at the request of Peter (on Jesus’ right), has inquired of Jesus, “Who is it?” regarding the identity of the betrayer.