Lenten Reflections

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John 13:21-30

February 21, 2024
John 13:21-30

21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. 


Jesus confirms with a heavy heart that one of his disciples will betray him. This, of course, sparks their curiosity as well as their fear. The disciple who was seated closest to Jesus, most likely the author of this gospel, asks the question that was on all of their minds: “Lord, who is it?” Jesus subsequently provides a sign, known only to John at the time, that Judas is the one who will hand Jesus over to those who seek his life.

But why would Jesus tell his disciples that one of them will betray him? What purpose does it serve? For starters, Jesus’ foreknowledge of what will happen provides yet another proof of his divinity. He is fully in control of the situation and knows precisely what is about to befall him. But even more importantly, Jesus seeks to encourage his disciples.

Consider the alternative. If the disciples did not receive any forewarning before Judas betrayed Jesus then they likely would have gone to pieces and perhaps never recovered from the shock of it. Jesus’ words, however, ensure that the disciples will not be overpowered by Judas’ ruin. They can rest secure in the fact that Jesus knows those who belong to him. Jesus has chosen them. Therefore they need not fear that they will fall away like Judas. Rather they are empowered to persevere in faith, by trusting the one in whom they have believed. Likewise, we can know with confidence that none of our present trials come as a surprise to Jesus. He knew this would happen even if we were unprepared for it. Therefore, now is the time for us to persevere, trusting not in ourselves, but in the one who has called us.

What comfort can you draw from Jesus’ foreknowledge of Judas’ betrayal?