Spoken Prayer: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His Word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
Drama on the Way to the Cross
by Dave Mann
The drama of Jesus’ movement to the Cross is full of deep emotion. There are numerous moments where the pathos is palpable. Here, Jesus and his disciples are in an intimate setting, the upper room.
v. 21 – "Jesus was troubled in spirit." Why? Though Jesus has announced on at least three occasions that he will be betrayed, this is the first time that he tells the Twelve that the betrayer is one of them, his own specially selected followers. It’s one thing to know an ugly truth; it’s another thing to speak it aloud.
vv. 22-25 – Such a statement is shocking to the disciples. They are at a loss; they don’t know which way to go with the accusation. What do you say when your small group is accused of harboring a traitor? Peter does not say anything, but he motions to John who is reclining close to Jesus at the table. So, John leans even closer to Jesus. He does this, I imagine, so that he can whisper his question and hear Jesus’ reply without the others knowing. "Lord, who is it?" Again, ugly truths can barely be whispered, never announced in full voice.
vv. 26-27a – Jesus’ method of identification of the betrayer is a gesture, not an audible announcement. The cinematography of my imagination presents the sequence projected on-screen in a close-up slow motion with tense, eerie music accompanying Jesus’ action of dipping the bread and passing it to Judas – John’s eyes wide open in disbelief – Most of the others still clueless as to what this action means. But we the readers, along with John, now know that Satan is having his way with Judas. The action moves forward.
vv. 27b-29 – Jesus speaks to Judas with a cryptic comment, "What you are about to do, do quickly." This command does not seem to follow logically in the wake of the statement about his betrayal. But the disciples are used to following Jesus without understanding fully where he is going or what he means—at least not yet.
v. 30 – "And it was night." John, the writer, concludes this scene with a terse description of the time of day, but more importantly as a descriptor of the deep spiritual darkness of the moment. The door closes as Judas leaves the presence of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I lean on you to keep me close forever in your presence. Amen