Today’s gospel reading confronts us with announcement of the betrayal of Judas and the prediction of the denial of Peter. Let this articles help us in our meditation for Holy Tuesday.
John 13:21 Jesus…was troubled in spirit…and said…one of you shall betray me
“I think one of the greatest pictures ever painted is by Da Vinci, ‘The Last Supper.’ I was studying, this morning, the expressions on the faces of those twelve men. Sometimes that occasion is called, ‘the picture of the hands,’ for as Christ announced, ‘. . . One of you shall betray me,’ every man moved forward, and each man gestured ‘Is it I?’ ‘Who is it?’ And if you look at the picture carefully you see the hands in the forefront all the way. Then Jesus said, ‘. . . He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. . .’ (“John 13:26John 13:26.) And Judas was there. Can you imagine the pathos, the heartache, the heartbreak, to know that Judas had been with Him, had partaken of His spirit to a degree, had seen His miracles, had testified of Him, and then was about to betray Him?
“There is little more poignant in the suffering of life than that which comes from betrayal, when our friends turn against us. We can fight our enemies on the outside, but there is nothing we look upon with such distaste as a traitor, a traitor to our country, a traitor to the truth, a traitor to the Church. So Christ at this crucial hour said, ‘One of you will betray me.’ And He knew that during that very night He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies, go through a mock trial, be condemned without any evidence against Him, and crucified. He knew all that.” (The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], 295.)
John 13:38 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice
All of us know what it is like to have a bad day. In this respect we can sympathize with Peter, for the Passover unequivocally becomes the worst day in Peter’s life. First, he impetuously demonstrates his misguided understanding when Christ washes his feet (v. 6-10). Second, he vows to lay down his life for Jesus’ sake and is told he will deny him thrice. Third, Peter comfortably sleeps while Christ suffers the pains of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:40-43). Fourth, he misguidedly tries to defend Christ by cutting off the ear of Malchus (Jn. 18:10-11). Finally, he fulfills Jesus’ prophecy by denying him three times (Mark 14:66-72). All of this occurred within a 24-hour time period—truly Peter had a bad day!
The great message of Peter’s bad day is that all of us make terrible mistakes. In our actions and disobedience we have denied Christ three times and then some. We don’t accuse Peter for his mistakes, for we are guilty of worse. But we are encouraged by the Lord’s forgiveness. If the Lord could make this man Peter into the greatest apostle ever, he can certainly work some magic with us as well. So, next time you have a really, really bad day, remember Peter’s brilliant comeback. It is possible for all of us.