John 13: 21-32
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining close to his heart; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus 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. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one knew why he said this to him. Some 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. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. The New Commandment When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”
The well-known or perhaps the well-remembered former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher once stated, “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” Most reasonable persons have a certain desire to be liked. While this may be a desire, there is a difficulty when this becomes your aim. Compromise, dealmaking, negotiating on principles becomes ingrained in one’s character.
John’s Gospel shares with us a moment in the life of Jesus when Jesus could have negotiated, compromised, or settled for making a deal that would not have been a witness of his character and a revelation of his missional focus. In the face of rejection, Jesus knew the assignment that God had given to him. The rejection must have been difficult, painful, and emotional for Jesus. Jesus knew that rejection was part of the process of moving through life. He would experience this moment in a room with disciples, and later when listening to the cries of a crowd that would declare, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.”
No matter the moment, Jesus was motivated to achieve the mission and to glorify his Father in Heaven. Through Jesus’ witness, the lives of the disciples and a multitude of generations that would follow would count themselves as blessed. Jesus never set out to please people, but only to please God. There are moments when the rejection of people can push us into the presence of God. It is in God’s presence where the love of God prepares us for the work God has given us and for the places God is leading us. The noted Preacher and theologian Henry Ward Beecher stated, “The strength and happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going that way too.”
Almighty God, strengthen our faith and desire to walk always with you. May we join you where you are working not only in the moments that are pleasing to us, but most prominently in the moments that are pleasing to you. Let our commitment to serve bear witness to the truth that wherever you lead, we will follow; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.