Debilitated by Denial
Jesus gives us a model for speaking the truth
Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me."
—John 13: 21
In a small house in Jerusalem during Passover Festival, Jesus and his disciples gathered in an upstairs room for dinner. For the last few days in Jerusalem, Jesus had been the center of much controversy and public attention.
The Roman soldiers (who had come to Jerusalem to keep things peaceful during Passover) were wary of Jesus and his band of followers, watching Jesus’ every step for an excuse to arrest him.
There was unrest among the group of disciples. One of them, Judas Iscariot, was visibly upset: angry and brooding. They were all anxious about what might happen to them, so when they took their places at the table, the tension was palpable. No one was willing to talk about it, though. Maybe it would go away.
This scene takes me back to some of our family dinners. My father was a mild-mannered, genial person, except when he had too much to drink. On the evenings when he did overindulge, no one mentioned it.
We passed dishes of food, I answered my mother’s questions about school that day, and I tried to avert my eyes from the end of the table, where my father sat. It was horrible. What I most wanted was for someone (not me) to say, “You’ve had too much to drink. Leave the table.”
That is what Jesus does. He does not live in a world where reality is glossed over. He knows there is something wrong, and he names it. It troubles him, but he speaks about it. “One of you will betray me.”
I imagine the atmosphere in that room: shocked silence at first, then questions, then one of them leaves. The tension ebbs a bit. Why? Because even though they still faced danger from without, within that room Jesus had faced an unpleasant reality and done what he had to do to change it.
Jesus is our model for so many things, and I most particularly am thankful for this example of speaking the truth, naming a reality when others are afraid to.
Thank you, dear God, for the loving wisdom of Jesus Christ. Give us the courage to follow him, in word as well as deed. Amen.