Here’s the third of my series on the senses from this Holy Week.
Wednesday: John 13:21-32 – Taste
When you read the Gospels in their entirety, rather than in the snippets we usually get from week to week, one thing that is noticeable is how often dramatic things happen over a meal. Jesus loved to eat with people, he got a bit of a reputation for eating and drinking with sinners. Every time Jesus has a meal with people, there is a revelation, a dramatic change in the status quo. Perhaps the most dramatic is the story of Zacchaeus to whose home Jesus invites himself for dinner. Oh to be a fly on the wall at that meal! All we know is that after that meal Zacchaeus is a new man, he gives back all the money he’s extorted from people and pledges to live in a new way.
Today’s gospel reading brings us to the dinner table once again, all the disciples are there, including Judas, eating this significant last meal with Jesus. And Jesus announces that one of the disciples is to betray him, one of the people around that table is going to betray him. It is unclear in the other gospels when he says this who it will be, and of course it is totally unclear to the disciples at the time who have no idea what Judas is planning. Jesus says ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ In John’s gospel he gives it directly to Judas at that point. In the other gospels it is unclear, it seems everyone is sharing the dip in the middle of the room, all the disciples probably dipped their bread in the same bowl as Jesus during the meal, and we get a chorus of ‘surely not I Lord’. And every time, I can hear my own voice join theirs, ‘surely not I Lord’.
Amazingly, like Judas, we too are allowed to partake in the meal. As the prayer says: “we were not fit even to eat the crumbs from under your table. But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation, and share your bread with sinners.” No one is excluded from this table because of what they’ve done or what they plan to do. Not even Judas.
We’re going to watch a clip from the TV series Broken now which for me encapsulates something of this truth:
(The clip I showed in church from the series Broken is a lot longer than this).
The psalmist says ‘taste and see that the Lord is good!’ God can be encountered through food. We encounter God through food every time we break this bread and drink this wine. Jesus generously shares his bread with sinners, allowing us to taste God’s great love and forgiveness.