My picture of Scripture is one of a series of love letters to humans, telling how much God wants us to be with Him in Heaven as our terminal state of being. Sometimes, I think of Scriptures are presenting a frightening picture of the consequences that a human has as a result of abandoning hope and accepting darkness instead of light in their heart. I can still remember sitting in the back of the Church, reading my Scripture about the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ and coming across this passage in St. John’s Gospel. It is only four words long but caused me to have goosebumps.
I want you to read this passage from St. John’s Gospel five times. Each time, slow it down from the previous one. Each time, focus on just one point of how it relates to where you are spiritually or in terms of your contemplative journey. I have bolded the passage that I think is one of the most terrifying in all of the Scriptures. Do you agree? Think about other terrifying passages.
The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet.*1 Before the feast of Passover,* Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.a2The devil had already induced* Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper,b 3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God,c 4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. 5* Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feetd and dry them with the towel around his waist 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”e9Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”10Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed* has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.”f11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”g 12 So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? 13 You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.h14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.i16 Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger* greater than the one who sent him.j17 If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.18 I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’k19 From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. 20 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”l
Announcement of Judas’s Betrayal.m 21 When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.23One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,* was reclining at Jesus’ side.n24 So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. 25 He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?”o 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel* after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. 27 After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”p 28 [Now] none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor.q 30 So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.