“Do Quickly What You’re Going to Do”

A Homily for Spy Wednesday

Text: St. John 13:21-32


Grace to you, and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Son of Man who has been glorified. Amen.

When last we parted ways on Sunday, our “Hosannas!” had faded to chants of “Crucify him!” We enter Holy Week, knowing that things are not going to turn out the way we think.

The disciples had been warned that this was going to happen, but they continued to ignore it. They still expect something amazing, some climactic showdown between Jesus and the Roman Empire, one decisive victory, and as they gather for dinner in the upper room, they unknowingly share in one last supper and receive Christ’s final teachings before his crucifixion. We know something’s amiss, and even the disciples are starting to piece it together.

They can feel the tension mounting after the confrontation in the Temple, the arguments with the Scribes and Pharisees, the withered fig tree. They’ve taken notice of Christ’s increasingly apocalyptic tone, and they’ve certainly noticed the Roman soldiers suspiciously eying the crowd.

And now, gathered around the dinner table, the truth is finally starting to sink in.

Jesus has just stripped down and washed the disciples’ feet, and he is about to give them a new commandment. We’ll read that tomorrow night. But tonight we are left with the difficult text between.

Jesus is visibly disturbed, and he says bluntly, “One of you will betray me.”

We can only imagine the sense of shock, the way the news blows over the disciples like a storm.

Surely they misheard the Lord – certainly not one of them, they who have been through so much and seen Jesus work miracles. No way could one of them possibly betray the Christ, not after hearing him teach and seeing the wondrous signs and being sent out to proclaim the Kingdom.

But then Christ takes the bread, dips it in the bowl, and hands it to Judas Iscariot.

“Do quickly what you are going to do.”

The silence is crushing.

How long it lasts no one can say.

Judas stands up, walks out the door and disappears into the night. In the distance, a dog is gnashing its teeth.

A few of the disciples turn a ghastly pale shade, and Peter looks like he’s about to vomit.

We’re in the endgame now.

And Jesus continues to speak: “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”

There’s no turning back.

Amen.

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