Most of this reading is likely to be familiar to many. It is about Judas – the one who has plotted to betray Jesus to the authorities who are planning his death. How remarkable it is that Judas is here at this meal-table at all! Jesus knows what Judas is plotting, yet will not exclude him. Always, it is we who exclude ourselves from Jesus. Ponder that. It is never the other way round, whatever we have done; whatever we are caught up in; whatever may be going on in our lives or in or brains. Let this sink in. Especially let it sink in if you are fearful that something in your past or something in your muddled thinking will keep you outside Jesus’ love and forgiveness and saving power. Often, in the New Testament, a banquet is a symbol of the feast of heaven. Jesus invites you to that feast. You have the right to refuse, but unless you do so, you are included. Good News Indeed!!But I want now to turn to words which are perhaps less well known, or less well understood. As these verses come to their climax, they need to be felt as much as read. Look again at verses 27-32. Feel them speed up. Judas closes the door behind him, as he goes out into the darkness of night. The friends around the table wonder what on earth is going on. Then Jesus speaks – about glory. The words tumble out ... too fast to take in and make sense of. It’s about a glory that seems almost to bounce around ... between Jesus (the Son of Man) and God (the Father). Jesus is glorified; God is glorified, and if God is glorified then Jesus will be glorified – and urgently, now, at once ...!At the beginning of our reading Jesus was ‘troubled in spirit’ – hardly surprising, given what is going on. Yet here, when the betrayer has gone out to do his deed - what we might call the point of no return in this calculated killing process – Jesus is speaking urgently of glorious things. Is he seeing a vision of Heaven’s glory?Is he, by an act of will, focussing his thoughts on what he knows to be true of his relationship with the Father – a truth easy enough when all is going well, but difficult to hold onto at times like this? Is he caught up in a truth which lies beyond the current ordeal – the prospect of the delight of heaven’s home just a matter of days away? Is he perhaps rejoicing that he has no more choices to make; he has faithfully seen all the options through, and now Judas has gone out into the night, it is a matter of letting go, and allowing things to take their ghastly course. Let us bring our thoughts and our questions to God.
Meditation Sit comfortably. Be aware of your body. Own the tension; the questions; the unsettling nature of our Bible reading. Feel these things in your own body ... they are part of entering the story. How certain are you that you have a place at the heavenly banquet? Take at least five minutes to invite the Holy Spirit to speak into your heart, bringing confidence and gratitude ... What truths do you hold onto when the chips are down? Reflect ... maybe jot the down ... What truth are you holding onto at the moment, while Coronavirus is rife, and we daily hear the updated death toll on T.V. or radio? Are you struggling to hold on ...? Can you see a prospect of glory on the horizon ... something that might reflect the goodness of God; the will of God; the priorities and purposes of God in his world ... ? Bring your struggles; your hopes; your thanksgiving or your fears to God in simple prayer. M.N. Lent 2020