St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 25th February 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Hebrews 12: 2
Let us worship God
The lesson is John 13: 21- 30
Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’
22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ 26Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ 28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
The word of the Lord; thanks be to God
Every good story needs a bad guy and although there are plenty of bad guys in the gospel stories, Judas is portrayed as the worst. One of the chosen who commits that most heinous of crimes – betrayal – the vilification of Judas begins in scripture but has continued throughout the history of the Church. One of the ways this has expressed itself is in the shameful anti-semitic propensity of the Church to treat Jews and Jewish communities as traitors to Christ (the name Judas means ‘the Jew’.)
Yet our approach to the Judas story should not simply focus on moral judgement, anger or the laying of blame. There is in this story meaning for us as the church community. The human nature of the church means that there will inevitably be failures, disappointments and even betrayal by leaders and people in positions of authority. As the British writer Hugh Pyper remarks, “Such incidents become a mark, not of the failure of the church, but of its authenticity as it suffers betrayal by its friends as did its Lord.”
And it is worth remembering as well that the betrayal by the vilified Judas is paralleled by the moral failure of Peter’s thrice denial of his Lord, a failure redeemed only by the grace of the one who bears all our grief.
O Christ the Master Carpenter, who at the last, through wood and nails, purchased our whole salvation; wield well your tools in the workshop of your world, so that we, who come rough hewn to your bench, may here be fashioned to a truer beauty of your hand.
Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom.
For your church around the world, we ask new life.
For all who carry out ministries in your church, we ask grace and wisdom.
For Christians in every land, we ask unity in your name.
For those who cannot believe, we ask your faithful love.
For people who suffer and sorrow, we ask your healing peace.
O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil;
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever, Amen.
Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.
Louis Vierne Épitaphe