A Troubled Spirit

By Rev. Mike Oldham

John 13:21–32

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” John 13:21 NRSV

Do you remember a time when you were betrayed? The first time, I was in sixth-grade. One of my best friends betrayed me. He told the school bully that I was the one who got him in trouble. The rest of that school year, I was constantly looking over my shoulder for this guy. As for my friend, we weren’t. I’m not sure if I ever talked to him again. I know we didn’t hang out anymore.

The scripture passages of Holy Week retell Jesus’ agonizing journey to the cross. On Wednesday, we read the story of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas Iscariot. We see the humanity of Jesus as he is “troubled in spirit.” Or, maybe this is his divinity as well. I wonder how often God is “troubled in spirit” by the actions of God’s own people.

Jesus did not cut Judas off. Jesus always believed that all twelve disciples were called to be with him. I think Jesus is troubled because after all the time together, one of his closest followers would betray him. It cut him deeply.

Jesus did not denounce Judas to the other disciples. He did not post a nasty comment on Judas’ Facebook page. He didn’t call the other disciples together to vote Judas out of the discipleship group. He simply told him to go do what he had to do.

I began by asking if you remembered a time when you were betrayed. Now, can you think of a time when you were the betrayer? Can you think of a time when you broke a relationship? Can you think of a time or ways in which you have broken your baptismal covenant with God?

Jesus is loving and compassionate. He welcomes us back when we betray or deny him. He knows that we are frail, sinful people and he loves us anyway.

Finally, he tells us that this love and compassion are to be the marks of his followers. In an age that is quick to break relationships, we are called to live out this same love that Jesus had for Judas and for Peter.

Today, I would encourage you to do an Examen of relationships. Are there broken relationships that you need to seek healing? Have you been betrayed or hurt? Have you betrayed someone? We are to love just as Jesus loved his disciples. We are to love each other as Jesus loves us. How can you live out that love in these broken relationships?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, how could you still love Judas? How can you still love me? Guide me in ways of loving others as you have loved me. Trouble my spirit until is seek healing and restoration.

Mike Oldham

Ministry and Mission Coach

NFR, SE/NM

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