By Tyson Thorne

September 17, 2019

John 41 Large

Did you read the passage again? Do you understand why it is such an uncomfortable passage? Good, because it's now time to address a very hopeful passage(13.18-38) full of despair, betrayal and death. Does it sound impossible, that tragic topics can bring about hope? All things are possible with God. In today's reading Jesus continues to demonstrate his love, but also his power by telling them what is going to happen during the next few hours. The purpose of this foretelling of future events is found in verse 19, "so that when it happens you may believe that I am he."

Due to our celebration of Easter, most Christians are familiar with the events of the Passover. Jesus tells the disciples a little of what is to occur that night. That one of them would betray Jesus (one, not all of them) and that Peter would deny (not betray) knowing Jesus three times before sunrise. We know that both of these events come to pass, which demonstrates Jesus' foreknowledge and that he is the Messiah. Most of the facts of this passage are easy enought o grasp, but there are two questions that may arise from a careful reading of the text.

The first question is what Jesus meant when he said, " I tell you the solemn truth, whoever accepts the one I send accepts me, and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me” in verse 20. This had to baffle the disciples since Jesus had not sent anyone, at least not yet. Some argue that the apostles are those Jesus sent, arguing that he sends them in Matthew 28. Indeed Jesus did send the apostles and, likewise ourselves. But the statement appears to more about an equality than merely a sending. I believe Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus would send after his ascension. Jesus' statement could then be read, "He who accepts the Holy Spirit (whom I will send) accepts me, and he who accepts me (whom the Father sent) accepts the father." This helps us understand the players in this statement, but what does it mean? It is an affirmation of the Trinity again. This truth is important, and he wants to make sure they understand it before he departs.

The second question I have is that, after Jesus had painstakingly explained how he would identify the one who would betray him, then immediately demonstrated, did the disciples not know that Judas was the betrayer? Seriously, at the start of this passage Jesus quotes Psalm 41.9, "The one who eats my bread has turned against me." Then he says that the betrayer is the one to whom he gives his bread after dipping it in the olive oil dish. He then immediately dips his bread and hands it to Judas. It seems impossible to miss. Judas takes the bread and then, we are told, Satan entered him. And this might be the key to understanding this story.

This isn't the first time Satan entered into Judas. According to Luke Satan had entered him before the meal, and now again after. It makes sense, then, that Satan was present during the Last Supper!Why is this important? Because of 2 Corinthians 4.3-4:

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.

Is it possible that Satan was permitted to blind the disciples to what Jesus was telling them, which effectively kept them from putting the pieces together until after they received the Holy Spirit? It is not the first time an unclean spirit influenced a follower of God (see Saul, in 1 Samuel 16). So is this a possible explanation for the disciple's lack of understanding? I think it is more than possible, it's probable. And that is a part of the story I'm betting you've never heard from the pulpit.

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