The Betrayal of Judas Foretold – John 13:21-32. April 17, 2019

Ata marie te whanau o Ihu Karaiti, rangimarie ki a koutou katoa. Peace be with you, the family of Jesus Christ this morning. Today our gospel text comes from John 13:21-32, the betrayal of Judas foretold.

We are now in the middle of what the church calls ‘Holy Week’. That tumultuous time from the rock star welcome of Jesus on a donkey into Jerusalem Barro wrote about last week, through the preaching in the temple courts, the last supper and foot washing, including our text today and then onto the trial and crucifixion on Friday. It is an emotional roller coaster of highs and deep lows, soaked with grace, working together to bring liberation through love.

Immediately before today’s words Jesus has washed all the disciples feet in an intimate act of leadership for us. As he continues sharing, Jesus makes it clear that one of them would take advantage of him (v18) and in v26 he makes it clear that Judas will be the betrayer by giving him a piece of bread. This act is another show of intimate and loving hospitality in the culture of the day. The incredibly open and defenceless love that Jesus shows at all times leaves him wide open to danger – today it comes to bite him.

Judas by giving himself over to the cruel rulers has allowed ‘the satan’ to enter into himself. Not in the sense of demonic possession but more a willingness by Judas to let himself be used by the ‘power’ of the elite for their ends.

In this scene of incredible love and devotion by Jesus he is flanked by betrayal. So often in life, the more we open ourselves up to love the more we become open to being taken advantage of. For Jesus, he chooses to love and be hospitable despite the risk; and today despite the knowledge he is feeding his betrayer!

For those of us who say we follow this Jesus it becomes a difficult choice to walk in this way all the time. Here in NZ it has been rather tumultuous recently with the shooting massacre bringing to the fore the racism and hate that lives just below the surface of respectability and tolerance. A few weeks back we had massive crowds attending vigils and gatherings for peace, love and inclusion – a bit like the entry into Jerusalem. Every day now on social media I see comments, statements of hate and division – sometimes typed by ‘christians’ seeking islamic immigration be stopped, that we vote out our current government in favour of a ‘nationalist’ government that will purify our society and keep those who are different at bay. I don’t see these actions being anything like the Jesus in our gospel today, or any gospel any day.

This Jesus we read of today knew betrayal and hatred towards himself, yet still chooses to love, to welcome, to cross boundaries with hospitality and include his haters. This is incredible love – the type of love that will die for the truth and not be co-opted by ‘the satan’ for the dominance that power always seeks. In this mess of betrayal stalking the love of God, Jesus in v32 states that he is being glorified! This is not ordinary love for those that are like us and will scratch our back in return! This is true, authentic love that loves no matter what is happening.

As we grapple with the juxtaposition of emotions of this ‘holy week’, (and this moment of opportunity in our land) may we allow ourselves to become aware of the hatreds we harbour in our hearts, surrender them to the love of God and seek to follow this gracious Jesus who despite being hung out to dry never let go of love.

May the blessings of the Easter journey be real in your place, rangimarie

Buckshot – GSCMC Wellington, New Zealand