They followed him, believed him, ministered with him, sacrificed for him, learned from him, loved him, and then – betrayed him.
The world refers to the above painting as the LAST SUPPER. The original mural painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century is housed by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It represents the final meal taken by Jesus with his disciples before his trial and crucifixion as told in the Gospel of John. (1) (2)
Up until the end Jesus served his disciples. The book of John tells us that before the meal, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and then approaching Simon Peter, Peter said:
“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I am doing, but someday you will. No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet.” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
The narrative continues in verses 14 and 15:
“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow.”
In ancient times the trails were dusty. It was a matter of ceremonial etiquette to present to the visitor to one’s household a bowl of water for washing the feet. In a well-to-do household a servant would have been assigned the duty. Jesus took this one step further and became the servant whose chore (or privilege) it was to wash the feet of his guests. His entire ministry is summed up in THE LAST SUPPER – serving a spiritually soiled and hungry humanity.
Judas Iscariot is known infamously as the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane for a handful of silver coins. The death of his master and teacher earned Judas a mere handful of silver. For us today, the task is to recognize and correct the many times we also betray Jesus, the one we name as Lord. Our doubts are a betrayal, our addictions are a betrayal, our unspiritual thoughts, our lustful behavior, our profanity, our cheating, our lies, our violence, our greed, our prejudice, our gossip – all are acts of betraying the One who blesses us every hour of every day 24/7. He has washed your feet then shared his bread and wine. He put himself on a cross because he loved us enough to suffer crucifixion and die ignobly so that we could receive through the Gospels blessings from a loving, compassionate, just God, the same God whom he called Father.
Greater men than you and I have been traitors. Simon Peter, the Rock, the Father of the Roman Catholic Church, when leaning into Jesus at the supper asked to go with Jesus to his destiny:
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (3)
Is it just my imagination, or do I hear a multitude of roosters crowing?
(1) THE LAST SUPPER
(2) JOHN 13:1-30
(3) JOHN 13:36-38