Summary: The paradox of Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ command to love one another - all in the same evening
The dark soul of the night
Today is Wednesday of Holy Week, a night in which we remember the betrayal of Christ by a friend, Judas
We are never told why Judas betrayed Christ.
Did he betray Christ out of a sense of revenge – because he felt let down when Jesus refused to become the popular Messiah of the Jewish folk religion of the day.
Did he betray Christ out of a sense of frustration because Jesus refused to be the political messiah that Judas had dreamt of – and the dreams for the last three years were rapidly disappearing
Was he just out to make a fast buck?
Or did he betray Christ because he was trying to push Jesus’ hand and force him into starting a revolt against the Romans?
We will never know.
There is a darkness at what is going on with Judas . And St Luke sums up the mood by saying that when Judas departed
“It was night!”
And yet it is almost paradoxical to the expression “It was night” and Jesus’ betrayal by a close friend Judas, that he gave his church this wonderfully refreshing commandment
A new command Jesus said I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all people know that you are my followers, if you love one another” (Jn 13:31-35)
For Love was the exact antithesis of what was going on with his close friend Judas.
Story: The Liberal Prime Minister, William Gladstone, in announcing the death of Princess Alice on 14th December 1878 to the House of Commons, told this touching story.
“The little daughter of the Princess was seriously ill with diphtheria.
And so the doctors told the princess not to kiss her because by kissing her she would endanger her own life by breathing in the child’s breath.
Once when the child was struggling to breathe, the mother, forgetting herself entirely, took the little one into her arms to keep her from choking to death.
Rasping and struggling for her life, the child said, "Momma, kiss me!"
Without thinking of herself, Princess Alice tenderly kissed her daughter.
And as a result she contracted diphtheria herself and died after some days. “
Real love forgets self.
Real love knows no danger. Real love doesn’t count the cost.
The Bible says, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. (Song of Solomon 8:7)"
Jesus gave his followers ONE very specific instruction on how to demonstrate their Christian faith.
On the night of his betrayal, Jesus took on the role of a servant and washed his followers’ feet - something that was countercultural.
It was countercultural because that was the job traditionally of the lowliest servant in the house.
It was so countercultural that, at first Peter refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet.
Yet Jesus told him that unless he agreed to allow Jesus to wash his feet he can have no part of Christ’s kingdom.
You see the point Jesus was making is that His Kingdom is not like any other Kingdom.
It is not a “dog eats dog” Kingdom.
It is a Kingdom of Love.
That is why Jesus said that he who wishes to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God must become the servant of all.
You might say God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of Servanthood.
We are called to serve one another
“A new command Jesus said I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all people know that you are my followers, if you love one another” (John 13:34-36)
In other words – Jesus is not interested in what we achieve or what we do but rather in our motivation – love.
And on Good Friday inn AD 29 he gave us the supreme example of this.
St. Paul so succinctly summed the matter up:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)
Of course “Loving your neighbour” was not a new command in itself.
We read in Leviticus 19:18: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
What is new however is that love is the “Law” of the New Covenant.
The Jews of the Old Covenant kept the
commandments of the Torah – our first five
books of the Old Testament - out of a sense of DUTY.
Jesus in contrast calls our motivation to be different. We are called to LOVE.
Francis Schaeffer founder of the L’Abri Fellowship said:
“Love is the final apologetic”
Tertullian in the second century reported the comments of pagans in his day:
“Behold, how these Christians love one another! How they are ready to die for each other!”