Our readings in the Gospel of John from today forward appear to be an almost verbatim account of conversations of Jesus with his disciples covering just a few hours. Ch. 13 tells us of our Lord washing his disciples feet – setting an example of serving one another – but it was not a command for regular foot washing as it would have just become a ritual. After this Jesus tells them, “one of you will betray me” [v.21] causing much heart searching – and that is not a bad thing! We all need to ask ourselves, ‘Am I letting Christ down in something I do?’
Jesus hands Judas a “morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.” [v.30] Darkness had fallen, it was probably about 7 pm. Today is spiritual night – the darkness is becoming really dark – are we taking regular morsels of God’s word? Or are we going out into the night? We should be constantly seeking the fellowship and strength of the faithful. But are the faithful themselves feeling the chill of the night and the darkness?
The end of ch. 13 tells us how Jesus said to Peter, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” So this is the final night of darkness in the mortal life of Jesus, by the time darkness comes again he will be dead. The next few chapters must be a largely verbatim account of what happened in the next few hours. Jesus tells them they are to receiver a ‘Helper’ “even the Spirit of truth … the Holy Spirit” [14 v.16,17,26] which, among other things, will enable you to “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
John’s own gospel wonderfully illustrates this – from here to the end of ch. 17 are some of the most heart searching and challenging words in the whole of Scripture!
Ch. 18 tells us they then went to where there “was a garden which he and his disciples entered.” [v.1] The other Gospels tell us what happened in that garden and how the 3 disciples closest to him were nearby, but kept falling asleep. But not so Jesus! Imagine the intensity of his mind as that night progressed!!
In the middle of the night comes a “band of soldiers with lanterns, torches and weapons … “[18 v.3] There were still hours to go before the cock would crow three times! What a night that was – how the disciples were frightened out of their wits by it all.
It is night now! How are we coping? Peter who was so crushed in spirit by the events of that night was to later write of the night that confronts us. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, and then the heavens (rulers) will pass away with a roar … the earth and the works that are done in it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness”