Read John 13.20-32 (the lectionary says 13.21-32 but it makes more sense to read v. 20 too.)
We're at the table at the Last Supper. The foot washing has happened (we'll read that tomorrow) and Jesus is talking about 'receiving the one he sends' and how that means receiving him and the one who sent him.
This is the beginning of 'the church' as we know it today. Countless generations have been sent and received down to us. And now, we are the church. We are 'the Body of Christ' in this world. We represent the one who 'sent' Jesus--God. Pretty heavy stuff and hard to get your head around--but 'true' never the less. We are the hands and feet and minds and voice of Christ. We are those 'sent' by God.
That is 'the church'. It just is.
But what is happening beyond the 'church' being formed, is the betrayal of Jesus.
He was 'troubled in spirit' and told those around the table that one of them would betray him.
At Peter's urging, 'the disciple who Jesus loved'--John, we think--asked "who is it?"
Then Judas is revealed as the betrayer by Jesus' gift of bread dipped in oil.
Judas leaves to do just that, but Jesus is not distressed. Instead, he says, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified."
It seems a strange response to betrayal!
But the betrayal was necessary so that Jesus might go to the cross and die for all of us and our sin.
In the Gnostic Gospels, there is a Gospel of Judas. In that story that not everyone has read, Jesus convinces Judas that he must betray him so that salvation might be available to all.
Judas agrees, but kills himself out of guilt.
Today let us pray for all who have betrayed us--individuals and institutions. And grant forgiveness.
Today let us pray for all we have betrayed in our lives. And ask forgiveness.
Today let us pray for those who have been betrayed by poverty, racism, disease and death.
And pray always, during this most holy week, for those in this crisis who are risking themselves to help up--hospital workers, police, fire departments, grocery workers, service station workers...all of those brave and gracious people who will not 'betray' but 'save'.
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