Read John 13:21-38
21After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."
22His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means."
25Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"
26Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, 28but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
31When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
36Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?"
Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."
37Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."
38Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (NIV)
We have here an interesting tale of Jesus’ last time of trying to win over Judas. Many scholars believe that Jesus was probably seated at the host position, the center of a “U” shaped table (the host would at the center of the “U” able to see both sides). The Jews reclined at the table and ate, so they would be leaning on their left sides allowing freedom for their right hands to take food from the table and eat it. This meant the position of honor was to the left of the host. The host’s head would naturally be near the chest of the person of honor which made conversation easy. John was probably to Jesus’ right and Peter was next to John.
What one sees in this passage is that no one is upset that Judas is given this position. It is as though Judas has been given this position before. Jesus has extended his love to Judas over and over, seeking to save his life. The offer of a morsel of bread in verse 26 was a sign of honor and respect. When the host dipped a piece of food and offered it to a quest, it was a great honor. Jesus tried to reach Judas.
This scene is really a sad scene. It almost shows Christ has given up on a person. When he tells Judas to go quickly and do what you are about to do, Christ realizes there is nothing more he can do for Judas. And John gives a poignant word to show this in verse 30, as Judas left, it was night. It was not just nighttime, but for Judas, his soul had turned to night from day.
As soon as Judas left, Jesus knows his destiny with the cross has now begun in earnest. The wheels have been put into motion and so has Christ’s glory for his is what he came to do.
This chapter ends with Peter’s brash words of support and Christ’s foretelling of Peter’s failure. I find this assuring. Jesus never stopped loving Peter even though he knew Peter would fall short of his declarations of faith. I like that because I know of the times I have fallen short of my declarations of faith and service in and for Christ. Christ knows we will fail and yet, still chooses to use us. This is the true wonder and joy of walking with Christ.
Christ woos all of us. But we must say yes to Christ. We don’t have to be perfect, but just willing to be changed and used. How does this passage relate to your faith journey? Do you see yourself in any of the characters?
Blessings and Peace