Year A, B, C
Holy Week Wednesday
March 31, 2021
Read the passage at the bottom of this post: John 13:21-32, The Message or John 13:21-32, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "To be added."
Chapters 13 through 17 tell of Jesus' last meal with his disciples.
John 13:1 sets the context:
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
So everything we read in these 5 chapters needs to be read as Jesus' showing his love for us to the end.
Since this passage begins with, "After saying this," it is important to go back and read what Jesus has just said.
After having completed washing his disciples feet as a sign of reversing the norm of who serves who, and demonstrating his forgiveness for where his disciples feet will take them in the next few hours, Jesus then uses the common Mediterranean phrase, "lifted his heel," which is an action intended to utterly shame another. One who lifts his heel is disloyal. (This is in contrast to the one whom Jesus sends: whoever receives them receives Jesus.)
But by telling us that he has foreknowledge of this betrayal from within even his closest followers reveals Jesus' superiority, and disempowers the betrayer and the consequences of his betrayal.
Once again, Jesus discloses himself as "I am" - the presence of God in Israel. And shows how his awareness of the betrayal allows us to confidently trust that "I am he."
It is "after having said this," that we begin this passage in which Jesus confronts his betrayer.
The passage is somewhat confusing to us as readers / listeners because it reports Jesus saying things out loud that have plain meanings but are not heard / understood by those present in the room with him.
The fact that the disciples are confused, uncertain, and anxious about which of them Jesus was speaking about when he says, "One of you will betray me," is understandable.
But that they don't understand when Jesus gives the dipped crust of bread to Judas and then says, "Do quickly what you are going to do," simply reveals that unlike Jesus they are not able to "read the signs."
As readers looking down on the page, we see what they do not, and are given by John that special sense of insider knowledge - of closeness to Jesus.
The passage concludes with Jesus essentially repeating John 12:23: his hour has now come in which the Son of Man has been glorified and God has been glorified in him.
Note the use of the past tense.
For John, the "hour" is a single moment in which every present moment has already reached and been fulfilled. Chapters 13 through 18 are like the slo-mo replay of the moment of a winning touchdown.
I suppose the Good News of this passage is that even though Jesus already knows we will betray him, he nonetheless does not betray God by backing out of his relationship with God and refusing to be glorified through being crucified. Jesus remains loyal even while knowing that we will not.
Historical background information in this post is drawn primarily from Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John, see link below, pages 225-228.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
John 13:21-32 (NRSV)
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, 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, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
John 13:21-32 (The Message)
21 After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. "One of you is going to betray me."
22 The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. 23 One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. 24 Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. 25 So, being the closest, he said, "Master, who?"
26 Jesus said, "The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I've dipped it." Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. 27 As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.
"What you must do," said Jesus, "do. Do it and get it over with."
28 No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.
30 Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.
31 When he had left, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, 32 God's glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!
Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
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