It is the last supper. Jesus is troubled in spirit. He has washed their feet. Everyone’s, including Judas’. “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me,” says Jesus. We hear those words and look at Judas. The disciples heard those words and “looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking.” Their uncertainty betrays the possibility it could be any one of them.
Jesus knows he will be betrayed. He knows who. He knows when. So does Judas. Jesus is neither surprised nor caught off guard. Nor is Judas. They both know and they both know that the other knows. The only ones who do not know, the only ones who are surprised, are the other disciples.
Tonight’s supper is one of love and betrayal. The two always exist side by side. To deny that we can and do betray Jesus in some way denies that we are loved by Jesus or that Jesus has given himself over to us. We can only betray those who have given themselves over to us. We cannot hand over what has not first been handed to us. Authentic love always risks betrayal.
In giving Judas the bread Jesus has handed himself over to Judas. He has made himself “betrayable.” I suspect the other disciples and we are relieved when the bread is dipped and given to Judas. He’s the traitor. He’s the one to blame. Judas makes it easier to not look at ourselves. The truth is we have all been given the bread of Jesus’ life. We have all been washed in the water of his love.
Yes, tonight it is Judas. At the cross it will be Peter. A different time, different place, different circumstances it will be someone else. Judas is not so much the culprit as he is the mirror of our betrayals. It is not simply Jesus and his love that we betray. We betray ourselves. Every betrayal of Jesus betrays ourselves. We hand ourselves over to the night, betraying our life to death, our love to self-interest, and our hope to despair. We turn away from the light, the source of our life, and once again Jesus is troubled in spirit.
by Michael Marsh