Mark 14.17-21

And when it was evening he came with the twelve. And as they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”

They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him, one after another, “Is it I?”

He said to them, “It is one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born.”

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3 responses

  1. This put me off at first — sounds like a threat. I wonder if Jesus really said this, or if something is lost in translation. It seems like a literary device: “watch out bad guys, the sheriff’s comin.'” But even if he did and meant exactly that, then I suppose the “spiritual lesson” here is that what we do (or fail to do) has consequences, and they can indeed be dreadful. That’s not a note I’d want to sustain for long, but the awareness of my own capacity for evil and indifference also lights my way to God (get in the house, kids, a storm’s a-comin!).

  2. The incident is legendary; ie “Judas” may well be a fictional character. If so, what we have here would be someone later accommodating the story to the likelihood that Jesus, as a prophet, would know what his own staff was up to. The “Judas” subplot does have at least some legendary features, for example the fact that Judas comes to more than one bad end in different versions.If this incident did, in fact occur, it would be less “a threat” than an offer of a chance to repent… which was a typical feature of prophecy; what good is a prediction that can’t be averted?I’m not so sure about “spiritual lessons,” certainly not the importance of “what we do.” (Our degree of consciousness when we do it, how centered we are in God, would make a difference not only in what we do but what comes of it.)How much does the character “Judas” reflect an early Christian belief that [other] Jews had betrayed the national calling by not sufficiently supporting Jesus–and in the case of the national leaders, collaborating with the Romans to eliminate him? Is he really necessary to explain the fact that the authorities were able to locate and arrest Jesus away from the public places where this would have been too risky?

  3. Hi, Forrest; I’m really glad to see you’ve carried on the blog that David and I worked on for a couple of years.One explanation of this story is Mark’s need to connect Jesus with the O.T. source, as in Micah 7:6.It is a prickly passage and one that puzzles or offends lots of people. We like to think of Jesus as being nice, but he was much more than that.

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