Sunday 12 April 2015

John 13:18-30 - Betrayed

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This is such a well-known passage. Is there anything here to consider, apart from the bare fact that Jesus knows who will identify him to the authorities? I think there is much more, these poignant verses are loaded with fascinating detail.

Yahshua has already shown that he knows who will betray him, just read verses 10 and 11; now he speaks of this again. And he says it is to fulfil Psalm 41:9. So much that he does and says is to fulfil the Law, the Prophets and the other writings of the Tanakh. And then he says something very striking.

'Whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.' (Verse 20) In other words, the Father sends the Son and the Son sends us. And if someone accepts us they are accepting Christ because he has sent us.  And if they accept Christ they are accepting the Father. This is essentially who Yahshua is. He is the very image of the Father and we, in turn, are the image of Jesus! He is telling the disciples about Judas in advance so that they will believe that 'I am who I am'. He is the embodiment of the Father, and we are the embodiment of the Son. Or as Paul has it, we are his body and he is the Head. If we don't understand these things at a deep, deep level we understand very little.

The simple phrase 'I am who I am' (verse 19) is enough to convict him of blasphemy in the eyes of the Chief Priest and Sanhedrin. Check out John 18:5-6 and Mark 14:61-63. The expression 'I am' might be just an innocent phrase, or it might be regarded as the Name that can never be uttered, the name Yahweh. To utter the Name was itself an act of blasphemy according to the Jewish leaders. To this day, Jews refer to him as Elohim (the Almighty), Adonai (The Lord) or  Ha Shem (The Name).

Of course, the disciples want to know who this betrayer will be. They are more than curious! John, prompted by Peter, asks the question. And Jesus tells him, 'It's the one I give this piece of bread to'. He dips the bread and hands it to Judas. He is one of those who shares Jesus' bread (verse 18). Jesus tells him to 'do it quickly' and Judas leaves. But the disciples still have little idea of what is going on, assuming that Judas has gone to buy supplies or donate to those in need. At this very late stage - almost the end of the final act - they are still unable to grasp even the most important things.

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