21After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out.—John 13:21-30 ESV
And it was night.
A few years ago, our pastor in Texas preached a whole sermon around this last sentence, “And it was night.” I was amazed how much he pulled out of that, which I don’t recall exactly now, but was along the lines of these:
- For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. (1 Thessalonians 5:7 ESV)
- This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5 ESV)
- But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. (Matt 24:43 ESV)
Anyway, Tim Keller recently (on Psalm 11, with many of the same ideas here) reminded me of the time of waiting between Jesus’ betrayal and resurrection, and I connected the two in a new way, and considered an application to our times.
The night surrounding the betrayal of Jesus was dark —physically, morally, and spiritually. And now, as we await the celebration of the His resurrection on Sunday, we have an opportunity to consider what that must have been like for the disciples to endure. They believed in Jesus, but didn’t know at the time how it would turn out.
Just as we sit here, in the middle of this pandemic, with little idea how things will turn out. We try to do the right thing, but that isn’t always rewarded. We miss things we depend upon in our daily lives, and regulations seem to just keep changing, as different authorities try to figure out the best course through this time.
But despite the fact that the disciples didn’t know that Sunday was coming (though they were told), it was coming, and it came. God did not abandon them, and He won’t abandon us now. The end of this pandemic will come, though we don’t know how, or when, or at what cost. And we know that on the other side of it, God will still be good.
I find it amazing that the Spanish/Swine flu of 1918-1920 (described in great detail here) hasn’t been talked about much, for two reasons. First, I think it amazing that we have lost this very relevant history. There were some 500 million cases, and some 50 million deaths. COVID-19, as of today, seems to have about 1.6 million cases, and less than 100 thousand (0.1 million) deaths. I don’t mean at all to belittle the suffering many people are going through; I know this is very hard on many people —we are not yet sick, but under isolation orders, and we know many are worse off. But I wonder if we would panic as much, if we thought through the fact that only 100 years ago, there was a much more deadly influenza, and we got through that one.
The second reason I find current ignorance of the Spanish/Swine flu of 1918-1920 interesting is because of what that ignorance says about it. Yes, people died. And yes, it was horrible. And yes, today people are dying, and it is horrible. But one century later, no one remembers that horror. Will our current horror, as much as we feel it today, be remembered in 2120? Again, I don’t mean to belittle the pain and grief that any of us are going through, but I find these things give me perspective.
Anyway as we move from Good Friday to Easter together, let’s take some time to grieve our losses (for they are many), feel the pain, and process it in perspective. We can’t see the other side of this thing yet, but we know it is there. And we may not feel God’s goodness now, but we know that He is good, and that we will feel that goodness again, some day. Let us pray to trust Him in the mean time, with full assurance that Sunday is on it’s way.