After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.”
The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, “Master, who?”
Jesus said, “The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I’ve dipped it.” Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.
“What you must do,” said Jesus, “do. Do it and get it over with.”
No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.
Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.
Jesus became visibly upset. The Greek word is ἐταράχθη – the root word is transliterated as tarraso, meaning “to stir up, to trouble, to put into motion”. In some manuscripts of the Gospel of John, angels tarraso healing waters (5:4). Jesus is tarraso-ed when he sees Mary crying at Lazarus’ tomb (11:33). Jesus is tarraso-ed again as he realises that soon he will bring glory to God’s name (12:27). And in this passage, Jesus is tarraso-ed on the night before the Passover feast. (In John’s gospel, Jesus is crucified as the Passover lambs are sacrificed in the Temple.) From healing, to compassion, to obedience, to determination – God stirs.
One of you will betray me – Jesus is stirred. A friend who had witnessed time and time again the power of God first hand was trying to usurp the will of God. Someone was trying to thwart the advancement of the Kingdom of God. A betrayal – an attempt to shackle the coming liberation. Someone still did not understand what God was trying to do. Jesus was stirred into action. The only way to free this betrayer from himself would be to face the cross. It was time.
What you must do, do. Possibly the betrayal by a close friend made Jesus even more resolved, more determined to help humanity? His presence, ‘God dwelling among us’, wasn’t enough to save us from ourselves. Part of us would never really fully understand God’s ‘kingdom-of-grace-and-mercy’ project. Part of us would always rebel.
Creation? We rebelled. Rainbow? We rebelled. Kingdom with a Temple? We rebelled. Promise of a Messiah and restoration? We rebelled.
And even at that moment, one of the closest of the close to Jesus rebels. Jesus had to wonder – would we ever get it?
By betrayal, Jesus was stirred, even more determined to defeat sin and death for the sake of us all.
What stirs you? What troubles you to the point of action? What makes you stand up, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in? What sets you in grace-filled, God-led motion for the sake of others?
Holy Spirit of God, Help me to see my work colleagues, friends, family, church family, and community as You do. Show me what stirs You into action. Stir me up! Empower me and set me into motion, working with You on Your ‘kingdom-of-grace-and-mercy’ project. For Your glory and for the sake of us all. In Jesus’ name Amen
Angela Rigby is an ordinand at the Northern College and member of Christchurch URC in Haydock, St Helens.