Conversation: The Nameless Lover

Untitled1John 19:25-27

For a while it was the occasion we expected.

It became an experience that I will not forget.

The Passover meal was all but over

when suddenly he said one of those

surprising things that we never saw coming.

‘One of you will betray me’!

It was like a knife to the heart.


Capture – yes.

Torture – yes.

Mockery – yes.

Murder – quite possibly.

But not betrayal, not by one of us.

And then I was involved in more than I wanted.

Peter had wanted to know the name:

‘He’s fond of you – ask him who it is’.

I could see he was already reaching for his knife.

So I asked Jesus: who is it?

‘It is the one I give some bread’, he whispered.

And it was the way he said it made me realise that he did not want anyone else to know.

This was between the two of us.

It was a secret that not even Peter could be told.

And I watched him reach out his hand: Judas received the broken piece of bread –

And horrified, powerless to stop it I knew that it was the beginning of the end.

And that is why I stood with the mother of Jesus at the foot of his cross.

And that is why the world has never known my name.

I knew his betrayer’s name but could not let it be known.

So I am nameless too.

All I will tell you is that I felt I had been chosen.

I am a disciple whose Lord’s love entrusted with a cruel secret.

It was a moment we shared with no one else.

It was the point when Jesus trusted me with an intimacy that I could hardly bear.

It was like a knife to the heart; but also a gift of his trust in me.

For when you are loved; really loved; loved to the depth of your soul;

Loved beyond all other loving – separation is death.

The heart dies.

The wound cannot be staunched.

And from his cross he looked at two people whose hearts

Were torn open by his willing farewell.

He could see what was needed and gave us to each other.

To a mother a son she had not borne and to me a mother from God.

So we returned to the place where we had shared that last meal

and carried these things in our hearts.

Lord Jesus Christ – who offered intimate love to a nameless disciple – pour out your grace on all

  • who carry a love they cannot reveal
  • whose trust in you brings secret responsibilities
  • who know what it is to receive a knife to the heart
  • who are given the embrace of a family not their own

forgive the Church when we cannot find room for bear your name but we cannot trust

and by your compassion transform us all.


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