After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.” –John 13:21-22
I once had the opportunity to view the famous painting, The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci in person. Having seen pictures and copies of the painting over the years, I never quite understood what all the hype was about. After taking a twenty-minute tour of viewing the original and having the painting explained to me, I must admit, I have a far greater appreciation for this work of art.
da Vinci finished painting The Last Supper in 1498 on the wall of the rectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. Our tour guide explained that this portrait represents the reactions each of the disciples had at the moment Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him. The guide explained, moving from left to right, that the first three are surprised by the news, Andrew even holds his hands up as if to say, “Not me!” The next group of three is Judas Iscariot, Peter and John. Judas holds in his hands a small bag of silver, the money given to him as payment to betray Jesus. Peter holds a knife in his hand, a foreshadowing of what will come later in the garden. Philip is among the next group of three to the right of Jesus. Those with him seem to be stunned and Philip is pointing at himself as if asking, “Could it be me?” The last three seem to be in discussion as if attempting to decipher who the betrayer is.
As this painting was being explained, I couldn’t help thinking which reaction I may have had that evening. If I had been sitting at the table with Jesus, would I have wanted to spring into action and defend the Lord? Would I have questioned my own loyalty? Or would I have been somewhere in between shock, denial, or defiance? Staring at the painting, I found myself praying that the Lord would continue to strengthen my faith.
On His last evening before the crucifixion, Jesus broke bread with His closest friends, one of whom later betrayed him and another, Peter, who would deny Him three times. Yet, Jesus loved each one of them, even though He knew what would happen and how they would hurt Him. An important reminder today is that He loves you in the same way, unconditionally. He simply asks that you be like Peter, admitting your shortcomings and never letting go of your faith and love for Him.
1. How do you think you would have responded when Jesus said that one of His disciples would betray Him, had you been one of them, at the last supper?
2. How have you betrayed, denied, or abandoned Jesus? Ask Him for forgiveness and give thanks that He loves and forgives.
Matthew 6:12-15; John 13:31-38; Luke 23:32-43