At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.” (John 13:21–32 NRSV)

The dictionary definition of betrayal is an act of deliberate disloyalty by deceiving and misleading a person or group. It is the act of violating the trust or confidence of another. The depth of betrayal is often connected to the depth of the relationship the betrayer has with the one they betray. This is significant when we consider John 13. The setting of is Jesus sharing the Passover meal with his disciples. Around the table were those Jesus had called to follow him. They had walked together and experienced life together. Jesus was their teacher and their friend. This meal would be shared by those who have a close connection with each other. It would be understandable for Jesus to have a troubled spirit when he declared that one of these disciples would betray him, one of these who sat around this table of connection and closeness.

The reaction to this statement was shock. I wonder if some of the disciples thought they had misunderstood Jesus. This was unthinkable. What could this mean? Who could Jesus be talking about?

It seems this information they wanted to know, but also did not want to know. Even brash and impetuous Peter did not want to ask Jesus directly about it and instead told John to ask Jesus. It would be Judas, that would be the betrayer. Jesus knew what was coming. He clearly knew what Judas was going to do. There would be more than Judas’s betrayal. Peter would deny Jesus three times. The disciples would scatter. Here in the Upper Room, the acknowledgement of betrayal seems like something that could not and would not happen.

I am much the same. Betrayal is not a word I want to be used to describe my actions. Yet, often I do betray Jesus, my Saviour and Lord. I am a follower and disciple of Jesus. I acknowledged how Jesus has changed me and brought me his peace and wholeness, yet so often I betray Jesus by what I say and do. I betray Jesus by being judgmental and harsh and unkind.

In the face of this betrayal, the words of Jesus were that the Son of Man is now glorified and God has been glorified in him. This betrayal, our betrayal, is answered by the glory of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of Man. This was the plan of God: that the Son of God would become man and that Jesus would die so we would know life in him. This is the plan of God for me to know forgiveness and wholeness and peace in Jesus. This is the Good News of the Gospel for those disciples in the Upper Room, and this is the Good News of the Gospel for us today. Spend time today reflecting on the grace of God we can know in Jesus.
Harry Kelm is the NAB executive director.