The Betrayer at the Table
Every afternoon in Kenya after teaching, we would all sit down together and eat. Water would be poured over our hands to make sure they were clean, then the food would be carefully placed in the middle of the table. Because I was the teacher, I was usually served right after the host and then each person was given chicken, beef, rice, tomatoes, and large sections of ugali. You ate with your right hand and used the chapati flatbread to sop up the gravy.
This was a special circle of friends, like family, and in order to understand how bad it was for Judas to betray Jesus, we need to understand the deep bonds of relationships, the table fellowship, that exists when we’re reaching for the food together and using the tools the Lord gave so that it’s all finger-licking good.
“Now when it became evening, Jesus came with the Twelve and they were reclining at the table and eating. Jesus said, ‘Count on it! I tell you that one of you will betray me, one of you eating with me.’ They began to grieve and one by one say to him, ‘Surely, not I!’
‘It is one of the Twelve,’ Jesus replied, ‘one of you dipping in the dish with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born!” Mark 14:1-21
Continuing to alternate between a focus on the “bad guys” in the narrative and then the “good guys,” Mark now focuses again on Judas as Jesus makes clear at the Last Supper that he knew exactly who would betray him. Note the stress on “the Twelve,” "one of the Twelve,” “one of you dipping in the dish with me.” It’s one thing to be mugged and beaten by an unknown. It’s another to have a trusted member in your close circle to be sitting there at the table and looking for just the right opportunity to hand you over to your enemies to be killed.
Jesus knew this was the role that Judas was playing, but we need to see clearly that he is responsible for his actions. Better to have never been born than to go down in history as the traitor who handed over the Son of Man, the one who at the conclusion of His Story will rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
LORD, increase my love for those who sit around the table with me and to realize how much you cherish table fellowship. Burn in my soul the horror of what Judas did so that his materialism, stealth, feigned devotion, and betrayal will never be able to find a foothold in my life or the lives close to me.
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