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Posts Tagged ‘John 13’


Thursday, March 26, 2020

John 13:21: Collapse from Within

Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me”.

Jesus and his apostles

Jesus and his apostles

Not all betrayals come from alien people or places.  Not all deception arrives from beyond.  Often, perhaps too often, betrayal springs from within, from the roots of denial we plant early in life, from a core of duplicity and infidelity that we consciously or subconsciously nourish.  We are quick to blame others for our downfalls, slow to admit responsibility for our actions.

The southern kingdom of Judah took in refugees from the north when the kingdom of Israel was overrun by infidels from the north.  They foolishly did not see their own fall that the prophet Micah predicted for them; they stayed their course of iniquity and kept to their corrupt ways believing that their vices were well-hidden.   Jerusalem’s walls expanded to take in the exiles; the city welcomed home those they judged as fallen yet even this apparent act of generosity did nothing to soften hard hearts or weaken stiff necks.  The people of Jerusalem ignore all the warning signs that she will become uninhabitable once their southern kingdom is taken.  Like us, Jerusalem is quick to criticize others for their misdeeds while we quickly ignore our own.

I am always stunned by the candor with which Jesus speaks about Judas’ impending disloyalty. (John 13, Matthew 26:14-25) He mentions no names but hands a morsel to Judas, plainly giving the apostle permission to follow his corrupt heart.  Jesus knows that this closest of companions has already turned against him.  Betrayal cuts deepest that cuts so close.   Disgruntled with the kingdom as he sees it, Judas is quick to blame Jesus for what appears to be a lack of willingness to take a stand . . . and slow to see the mystery of the kingdom in the person of Jesus.

Hezekiah's Jerusalem

Hezekiah’s Jerusalem

We have signs before us each day, telling us where to go and what to say and do; yet we – like the people of Judah – pride ourselves for not falling away from the rules as they believe the Israelites have done.

We are given warning signs regularly, recommending that we mend our ways, and soften our hearts and minds; yet we – like the people of Judah – believe our defenses and resources are formidable as the Israelites do.

We are given permission to hate or to love; we are treated with tenderness and care, and yet – like the apostle Judas – we choose the quick and comfortable route to temporary comfort . . . while we leave behind genuine and infinite happiness, while we too frequently betray the very love that would save and protect us.

Today as we reflect at noon, we might choose to spend time with the story of Jerusalem following the fall first of Israel in the north and then Judah in the south.  Or we might choose to spend time with John 13 to contemplate our own potential for collapse from within.


Images from: http://sortlab.blogspot.com/2011/04/tuesday-of-holy-week.html and https://thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com/tag/pekah/

To read another Holy Tuesday reflection, click on the image of Jesus and his apostles above or go to: http://sortlab.blogspot.com/2011/04/tuesday-of-holy-week.html

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2 Corinthians 1:3-11: Encouragement

I am so touched by the number of times Paul uses the verb encourage and the noun encouragement in this citation.  As I read through the opening of this second letter to the group in Corinth, I am struck by the idea that as Christians we need to be encouraging one another as we move along the path of life – this is the mark of a Christian: to exhort, to pray, to urge, to praise, to support, to bolster . . . to encourage.  How many times do we browbeat, do we demand, do we undercut, do we deceive, how often do we judge?  Perhaps we put distance between ourselves and others because we are afraid of betrayal at an intimate level.  Perhaps we are afraid to trust.  If this is so . . . we have a place to turn for understanding.  We can examine John 13.

Picture1Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me”.  The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.

Perhaps we have sensed when someone close to us was about to turn against us.

One of his disciples . . . was reclining at Jesus’ side . . . He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, Master, who is it?”

Perhaps we are too afraid to look closely at circumstances; we may be too anxious to begin a conversation that needs beginning.

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it”. So he dipped the morsel and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. 

Jesus teaches us that we must remain calm in the face of treachery.

After he took the morsel, Satan entered him.  So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly”.

Jesus shows us how to remain open and honest in the midst of our enemies.

Now none of those reclining at the table realized why he said this to him.  Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. 

We understand that betrayal is deep-rooted and far-reaching. 

So he took the morsel and he left.  And it was night.

We remember that even for Jesus . . . there is darkness.

Picture3When we are betrayed we find relief and support in the encouragement of others.  We find compassion and mercy in Christ’s example.  Psalm 55 describes the anguish of betrayal at the hands of intimate friends; Jesus teaches us how to withstand the pain brought by this betrayal.  Christ brings us encouragement.

And so we pray . . .

We look for healing and restoration in others . . . let us give healing and restoration in all we do and say.

We look for openness and honesty in others . . . let us act openly and honestly in all our actions and declarations.

We look for constancy and fidelity in others . . . let us be constant and faithful in all our deeds and words.  

We look for justice and mercy in others . . . let us live justly and mercifully all our days and all our nights in Christ.

And let us give thanks for the encouraging companions God sends to us as we journey on our way.  Amen.


First written March 18, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

To explore words of encouragement for children, click on the image or visit: https://www.momjunction.com/articles/words-of-encouragement-for-kids_00402209/#gref

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Revelation 1:7-8: I am the Alpha and the Omega

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

We continue to explore the definitions with which Jesus defines himself, looking for The Way to better follow his lead, seeking the Good Shepherd who guides and protects, searching for Vine so that we might be the Branches.

The Book of Revelation is full of apocryphal images that we struggle to understand without consulting a commentary. We may want to set aside a chunk of time to study this book since it is the culmination of the before, the now and the yet to come. It is the Word, written and brought to us by the Holy Spirit. It is the Word, Christ himself, both microcosm and macrocosm. It is the Word that is God, God the beginning and God the end, God who is all. With these verses, we come to know that there is nothing else but this triune God.

John 1:3: Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him. (GNT)

The Apostle John tries to put into words all that he has experienced with the human and risen Jesus. Can we say that Christ is our beginning and end?

Isaiah 41:4: Who did this? Who made it happen?
    Who always gets things started?
I did. God. I’m first on the scene.
    I’m also the last to leave. (MSG)

The prophet Isaiah asks us how we understand God. Can we say that God is the source and goal of all we do?

Matthew 5:17: Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. (CJB)

The disciple Matthew records Jesus himself telling us that he is with us to fulfill rather than destroy. Can we say that we build up more than e tear down?

Revelation 22:13: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (NRSV)

Jesus himself describes to us how the first becomes last, and the last first. He becomes for us the parable described in Matthew 20:16. How do we order our days? How do we prioritize our hours? What do we do with the precious moments of time that God gives us?

Once we begin to open our lives to Christ, the true Revelation of how we embody God’s image becomes our own alpha and omega.


When we compare other translations of these words, we better see how we might be both first and last in Christ.

Click on the images to explore. 

Images from: http://www.stfrancisnyc.org/2014/08/alpha-and-omega/ and https://cost-of-discipleship.blogspot.com/2010/11/alpha-and-omega.html 

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