A Piece of Bread

After saying this 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.” – John 13:21-27

For centuries your followers have sought to make
the choice of Judas make some sense.
Was he just greedy? Was he bereft of soul?
Did he have some agenda you would not accept?

Despite the Gospel writers’ efforts,
Judas’ treachery remains a mystery.

The greater mystery is how you shared that bread –
the bread we break in honor of your death –
how did you share that piece of bread and know,
and know that he contrived your death?

Who is it, Lord? your closest friend inquired.
You knew. You knew the name as well as you
discerned the anguish that approached, that would
be on its way, when you extended bread.

Were I to know such things, could I extend
a piece of bread as to a trusted confidante,
and breathe, “Do quickly what you do.”
The answer is a clear and easy, “No.”

Yet you released the bread into betrayer’s hand,
and put your life into his hand.
He took his hand into the night
to take your life.

Despite the Gospel writers’ efforts,
Jesus’ love and bravery remain a mystery.

A poem/prayer based on John 13:21-32, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Wednesday of Holy Week.

The image is by unknown artist (ca. 19th century) – http://www.rav.sik.si/sl/e-knjiznica/artoteka/item/zadnja-vecerja-2, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17358033.

Holy Week 2020: Wednesday

[Jesus said,] “You are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead…” (Matthew 23:27)

After saying this 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. (John 13:21-26)

How might we betray you today, Jesus?

Might we eat from your dish on a holy night,
and dash from the meal to enrich ourselves,
not this time with spirit and with truth,
but this time with the thirty coins of death?

Or might we claim the role of shepherds,
offering polluted grace with unwashed hands,
ready to speak in judgement, not forgiveness,
our churches filled with dusty bones?

How might we betray you today, Jesus?
Truly we are an unimaginative people.
In nearly two millennia, we find
no more creative means to turn from you.

The artist of this image is unknown, believed to be 19th century German – Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17819714.