Part 2 of 2
Who did betray Jesus? Well, the obvious answer is Judas “surnamed Iscariot”. Easy. It seems as if every mention of his name in the Gospel accounts of this final evening are either preceded or followed by some indication that he was the one who deliberately set out to betray Christ. And indeed, Judas did actively and purposefully betray Jesus by leading the arrest squad directly to Gethsemane. Jesus even fingered him when he handed him the bread dipped in oil. But scripture makes it equally clear that he was merely Satan’s operative, something Jesus himself implicitly acknowledges when he says to Judas, “What you are doing, do it quickly.” Of course doing Satan’s legwork certainly isn’t anything to be proud of, so let’s put Judas on the list.
How about Peter? Another perfectly acceptable candidate. Three times he denied Christ, and cock-a-doodle-doo. At least he tagged along to see how this crooked deal was going to go down. And make no mistake; in the midst of an incensed mob that was in the process of putting a pretty good beating on Jesus, the fact that he’s even hanging around goes a long way in my book. Still, there’s no denying the denials, so he’s on the list too.
Here’s an option that might surprise you: John, the Beloved Disciple. No, you say, not John. Isn’t he the only disciple recorded to have seen Jesus’ crucifixion through to the end, there at the cross with Mary when Jesus breathed his last? True, but don’t miss the fact that John is the guy who got Peter into the High Priest’s courtyard, where Peter so famously denies the Lord. (John 18:16) As the youngest disciple, I wouldn’t be surprised if John didn’t make sure that Peter got in the door so he would have some muscle if things got dicey. And if that were the case, he wouldn’t have strayed too far from Peter’s side. But I don’t see him piping up to correct the issue when Peter is questioned. (And wisely so, God needed these guys to kick-start the church – but that’s a discussion for another blog.) Anyway, John makes my list.
How about the other nine disciples? Thomas, there’s a no-brainer. He betrayed Jesus that night and didn’t stop betraying him until he touched the risen Lord. The rest – the next we hear of them they are hiding out in fear of the Jews.
You mean on that night they all betrayed Christ? Yes.
And so did I, and so do I. And that, to me, is the point. We are reminded every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper that Jesus was betrayed, because we possess a heart of betrayal. And yet, in spite of this betrayal – indeed because of it – Jesus gives us his broken body and his shed blood, and he forgives us. And so, when we take hold of this understanding, we can enter into Holy Communion humbly, yet boldly – knowing full well that God’s table is a betrayer’s table, prepared for those who so often turn from him. And yet he invites us to dinner, and he welcomes us with unfathomable love, and he restores us to a full relationship with Him.