February 23, 2020

Holy Wednesday 2012

The Last Supper, Serra

 John 21:21-32

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?’ 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.

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.

During Holy Week, we are running a special post each day here at Internet Monk. We glean one word or phrase for contemplation from the Gospel passage for the day, and hear a devotional thought from one of my favorite old books by Dr. John Killinger. The copy I have is called Devotional Thoughts on the Gospels but it was republished as Day by Day With Jesus.

• • •

Today’s word is NIGHT. Judas’s betrayal is underlined by the Gospel’s ominous words, “…and it was night.” Even as the darkness was approaching, we see the gracious hospitality of Jesus, sharing bread with one he treated as a friend. Though Jesus knew what was to be in his betrayer’s heart, yet still he engages him in intimate conversation at the table. How deep must be the pull of darkness when the light of Christ’s friendship and kindness cannot break through!

Judas’s story reminds us that proximity to the Savior is not enough. The light of living faith must be present to illuminate the inky blackness of our hearts. The betrayer’s spirit was soon to be all night and no stars; pitch black, not allowing even the tiniest glint of moonlight to shine through. The source of this deep darkness? — “After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him.” Thus the chill depths of night fell in full force.

John Killinger comments on this scene:

Judas may have been almost as close to Jesus at the table as John, for Jesus had handed him the morsel. As treasurer of the group, he probably held a place of importance, perhaps even on Jesus’ left hand. It is likely, when Jesus spoke to him, that the others did not hear. “What you are going to do, do quickly,” said Jesus (v. 27). And Judas went out.

…There is an ominous note in John’s words “and it was night” (v. 30). Jesus had come as the light of the world, and he was opposed by the darkness (1:4-5). Near the end of his public ministry, Jesus had warned: “Night comes” (9:4). “If any one walks in the night,” he said, “he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (11:10). Now Judas had gone out into the darkness. Soon the darkness would appear to overcome the light.

And so Holy Week takes its ominous turn.

Prayer for Holy Wednesday:

Father, on this day I acknowledge you as the One who said in the beginning, “Let there be light” — and there was light. In the dark wilderness of our lives, your light leads the way.

I confess the darkness in my own heart; in fact, it frightens me how much I am attracted to the darkness. Even when you engage me in warm, bright kindness, I find myself feeling the pull of the night. Lord Jesus, be my Light and my Salvation this day. Send out your light and truth and let them lead me. May your word be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Deliver my soul from death, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before you in the light of the living.

Forgive me, renew me, and lead me, that in this holiest of weeks I may delight in your will and walk in your ways. Amen.

Comments

  1. I know that the disciple that Jesus loved is said to have been John and that John may have been the youngest among his closest disciples. But I still wonder about this passage when John becomes aware that Judas is going to betray Jesus. Wouldn’t you think he would have wanted to stop it somehow? If Peter had known about it, you can be sure he would have done something like jump up and say, “Judas! How can you consider betraying Jesus! What is the matter with you! We will tie you down before we let such a thing happen!” And then of course Jesus would reply, “Peter, Peter, you don’t know what you are talking about. What I am about to go through is necessary and Judas has a sad part to play in all this. Sit down and have some more bread. It will all be well. Have you not listened to any of the things I have told you?” Note that Peter DID ask John to ask Jesus who was going to betray him. It doesn’t say that John told Peter what Jesus said.

    I read somewhere that Judas may not have realized that Jesus was going to be killed. He may have thought that having Jesus arrested would “force” Jesus’ hand into coming out as the true ruler of Israel. He and the others still did not understand what kind of a Messiah he truly was. But I don’t know about that interpretation.

  2. The Lord does use evil for His purposes.

    ___

    Great prayer. Acknowledging who and what we are (like the tax collector in the Temple), goes a long way to realizing that we are beyond ever being able to recapture our lost innocence. It is far too late for that.

    We need a Savior. A tune up just will not cut it. I pray that many people will come to that realization, by the grace of God.

    Thank you.

    • Steve Martin writes, “The Lord does use evil for His purposes.”

      Speaking of evil…I am reading John Cassian’s Conferences, which is a compilation of teachings by the desert fathers in the late 300s, early 400s. One of the abbas says about God and evil that we should consider some things to be “afflictions,” not evils, that God allows, like sicknesses, loss of possessions, bad weather. He says that out of sicknesses and other afflictions, people can learn important things and become closer to God. But he says to never associate God with true “evil.”

      There is so much wisdom in the interviews that John Cassian and his friend had with these desert fathers.

      But yes, Steve, even though evil things happen, God can use them for His purposes.

  3. Today is also known as Spy Wednesday, because after the anointing of Jesus in Bethany, and before the Last Supper, Judas agreed with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus to them: Matthew 26:14 “14 Then one of the twelve followers went to talk to the leading priests. This was the follower named Judas Iscariot. 15 He said, “I will hand Jesus over to you. What will you pay me for doing this?” The priests gave him 30 silver coins. 16 After that Judas waited for the best time to hand Jesus over to them. “

  4. Adrian Z says

    ‘I confess the darkness in my own heart; in fact, it frightens me how much I am attracted to the darkness’

    I think what frightens me is when the darkness becomes more common to me than the light. My eyes start to adjust to it. You can’t see perfectly but you get by. Then someone turns on a light. It’s almost too much. Slowly you open your eyes and you realize what you have been accepting.

    Ive been using these holy week meditations as a light and praying ‘that I may walk before you in the light of the living’

  5. Nouwen has some beautiful thoughts along the same lines in his book “With Burning Hearts”…How, at the very first communion table, Jesus served Judas, who would betray hi; Peter, who would deny him; and others, who would abandon him. At the communion table, we bring all of our light, and all of our darkness…and we are fed by the hand of a loving father.

    Good stuff this week. Really enjoying it, CM.

  6. Thank you for these devotionals this week, CM. I’ve enjoyed having something nourishing to meditate on during my work hours.

  7. “It is likely, when Jesus spoke to him, that the others did not hear.”
    Then how do we know that this is what was said?

  8. “..proximity to the Savior is not enough”. Nothing less than full engagement with and attendance to Christ will ultimately be sufficient. The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. Those 12 disciples are the perfect illustration of that. All in the presence of Jesus, none with more than the faintest inkling of what it is all about. Sounds like us actually. We pray for light in the darkness.