As we learned yesterday, the yearly ritual of the Passover feast was designed to enact the first Passover in Egypt apart from one major area: the first was taken standing, because their escape was near; the yearly ritual after that was to be taken sitting or reclining as a sign that the Israelites were now free and living in their own country. This passage reads in a small way like an Agatha Christie novel, where everyone knows that one person in the room is guilty, but nobody knows who, even getting to the point of having to ask themselves if they could possibly be the betrayer!
Psalm 41 v 9- 'Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me'-runs through Jesus' head, but even at this sombre time we can detect some great things here:
1. Jesus knew what was going to happen. And, with a full knowledge of what lay ahead, He was for going on.
2. Jesus could see into the heart of Judas. It appears that no other disciple had the slightest suspicion of Judas, but Jesus Christ is the searcher of human hearts and we can hide nothing from Him.
3. Even though He knows all this, Jesus still reaches out to Judas. He makes a loving last appeal to the Judas who had walked with Him for three years. And out of love He gives Him one last warning; He tells Judas in advance of the consequences of his actions. This is completely in line with the way God works with us: Jesus could have blurted out the name of Judas as the betrayer and the disciples would have prevented him ever leaving that room; Jesus Himself could have stopped Judas; and yet God continues to give us freedom of choice. In the case of Judas and in many human examples, we have the freedom to destroy our lives. Yes, God will warn us and in His grace at times will make it very difficult for us to wreck our lives; but ultimately we have the free choice.
In the case of Judas and for all of us, we are responsible for our sins. We can blame our actions on our upbringing, our genes, the influence from other people, even the devil, but we alone can mess up our lives, bury our consciences, spurn the Holy Spirit and turn our backs on the One who loves us more than anyone.
The only ties that bind in our relationship with Jesus are those of love and this is God's way: to help us to see, to experience, to have a history of being loved, that we turn back to God.