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The Last Supper: Judas Dipping His Hand in the Dish by James Tissot (1836-1902)
The Last Supper: Judas Dipping His Hand in the Dish by James Tissot (1836-1902)

Holy Week Reflections: 'One of You Will Betray Me'

Wednesday March 31

The Rev Roddy Hamilton reflects on the symbolism at play in the Last Supper


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 next to him; 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.” (John 13:21-26)


It is all the mysterious signs, and subtle messages being passed round the table in bread, that offer us a picture of the sacred: a place where light and darkness get tangled up together. The signs we so often imagine as pure and sacred, with the flick of a switch, are also signs used for betrayal and manoeuvring. It is an unholy tangle.

But then all holiness is, surely. Where do we find a holiness that is untarnished and untouched by the shadows of the world? Not in the Bible. No saviour we know remains disengaged with the politics, pain and protest of the world. Jesus' hands are dirty because holiness, if it is salvation at all, has to be found in the darkest places and here is one: the bread we taste tomorrow night is also the sign of betrayal today. When heavenliness touches earthliness, then perhaps we have found the place love dwells.



Loving God,
When the conspiracy of heaven
Tangles with the corruption of earth,
And bread is broken,
And wine is spilled,
And words are charged,
And events are forced,
May we pause in this unholy holiness,
And recognise the times
When you move out from the glory heaven,
And travel through the stoor of earth,
Making a choice for love.

The Rev Roddy Hamilton is minister of New Kirkpatrick Parish Church, Bearsden. His series of reflections continues tomorrow, and each day of Holy Week

Palm Sunday: Did Anyone Know?
Monday: Beyond Earthly Things
Tuesday: Jesus is From Everywhere

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