After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. (John 13:21-30)
Thirteen men at a table, sharing a meal. One of them, the Light of the World; one of them, full of deepest darkness.
All throughout the Gospel of John, the apostle uses light imagery:
- Jesus the Word is the true Light that enlightens everyone, the light of men who came into the world. The Light who shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend or overcome it.
- Jesus, the light that has come into the world, who was rejected by men that loved darkness because of their evil deeds.
- Jesus, the light of the world, who gives His followers the light of life, who gives light and sight to the blind, who gives life to the dead.
And on this final night before He would complete the mission for which He was sent into the world, as the weight of what was about to happen weighed heavier and heavier upon his heart, our brother John records a seemingly insignificant detail: “And it was night.”
Consider how dark was the night that our Lord faced, Christian. How inky black and oppressive its shadows! As the betrayer, a man whom Jesus lived with and ate with and shared His life with–a man whose stinking feet Jesus bent down to wash!–was slinking his way through alleys and avenues to sell out the Savior for silver, Jesus was telling His disciples to love one another, to believe and trust in Him, to let their hearts not be troubled because He has overcome the world.
Into the darkness of the olive grove, this band of brothers walked, and there Jesus prayed for them and for Himself. There, in the shadowy solitude of that arbor, He pleaded for another way to accomplish His mission, crying out to His father in dread of what was to come.
Jesus the Christ–Son of God, Son of Man, second member of the Trinity, eternal King of Kings and Lord of Lords–submitted to the will of the Father. For it was the will of God to crush Him, and by His blood provide satisfaction for divine justice and salvation for the souls of helpless sinners whom He would choose to save in His loving-kindness and mercy.
It was night. But soon it would be dawn. Soon enough, the sun would rise on an empty tomb, a broken curse, a propitiated wrath, and a promised inheritance to all who put their hope on the risen Lord.
Tonight, all over the world, believers are gathering together to commemorate that last meal before the crucifixion. My encouragement to you, friends, is to take a moment, look out your windows, and consider the darkness that surrounds. Give thanks for the love of our Savior, who faced down the darkness of sin and death.
The Light has shined in the darkness, and the darkness has never–will never–overcome it.