The Gospel reading for today is a challenging one. It centers on Judas’ impending betrayal of Jesus. The writers of Luke and John both attribute Satan entering Judas to help explain why he turned Jesus over to the authorities. For millennia people have wondered how and why such a betrayal could happen. Motives ranging from disillusionment to political reasons to money have been theorized. The full story we’ll never know. However, the relationship between Jesus and Judas points to a reality most of us know all too well: love and betrayal often go hand in hand.*
While the betrayals we receive and the ones we bestow on those we love may not be as dramatic as the one in today’s gospel, we let each other down all the time. We are not immune from hurting or being hurt by those we love. In the “family” of Jesus’ first disciples, Judas wasn’t the only one to betray Jesus. Simon Peter would deny him just a short while later. Peter pretends he doesn’t know Jesus and isn’t there at the crucifixion. His motives perhaps were self-preservation, but Peter also turns his back on one he loves.
Today, rather than dwelling on the “why?” of how they could do this, I’m sitting with another reality that this text points toward. This passage comes while Jesus and his friends are finishing supper. They have shared a meal and Jesus has just finished washing their feet. All of their feet. Peter isn’t sent away from the table. Jesus doesn’t skip over Judas as he kneels before each person, taking their feet in his hands. The truth is, even knowing what they would do, Jesus feeds, washes, and loves them all.
As you walk through this Holy Week, remember that Jesus loves you with this same depth of love. You are worthy. You are beloved.
Rev. Sarah Akes-Cardwell
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today:
*To be clear, this is not a pass to keep hurting someone you love. Repeated betrayals, lies, and pain inflicted on someone you “love,” is not love at all. It is abuse. If you or someone you know is being abused, you can find a host of resources here.
In the case of Judas and Peter, there’s no evidence to suggest such abuse was occurring in their relationship with Jesus. Did they make mistakes? Yes. In Peter’s case that rift would be healed after the Resurrection. For Judas, tragically, there would be no peace while he was on Earth.