2016-03-10 - Betrayal and Love
The Cross Series, Part 4 ~ Originally Published 1997-08-08
John 13:20-27 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." 21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me." 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus' breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore gestured to him, and said to him, "Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.". 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus' breast, said to Him, "Lord, who is it?" 26 Jesus therefore answered, "That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him." So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore said to him, "What you do, do quickly."
Jesus has just announced to the room that He was not speaking to all His disciples. The Lord makes it very apparent that someone, at least one, has not truly received Jesus as Messiah. Everyone in the room must now be certain that Jesus' time remaining with His friends is very short. When John writes that Jesus 'became troubled in spirit', I hear the sadness in Jesus voice. He finally strikes at the heart of His sorrow. Judas has traveled with the Master and the other disciples for at least two years now. He has been trusted with the money bag, which one author accuses him of stealing from. He has also healed the sick and lame. Nowhere in the text does it indicate that he was not affective in these areas. It would have been a point I can't imagine would not have been made. Judas has experienced the power of God, personally, and in ways that some of us may never know. And yet, through all of this, he will shortly act on his plans to betray Jesus to His enemies.
Jesus confides to Peter and John who his betrayer will be with a sign. Jesus was the host at this Passover meal. One thing a host could do would be to give a piece of bread dipped in whatever sauce was being served. It was an indication of special favor and friendship. Jesus does this for Judas here. At this meal, Jesus has done everything but directly confront Judas and demand that he repent. In a way, the Lord has even done that. Judas had to have felt that somehow Jesus was speaking to him, or he was so convinced in his thinking that his mind was closed. Is there a heart that simply will not hear God's call? There is a 'sin leading to death' referred to in 1 John 5:16. Does this close all possibility of salvation? Perhaps, but I will let God be the Judge in this. The plan of salvation had been worked out in ages past, and was now being played out in time and human history. Jesus' substitutionary death to pay the debt of sin is made for all mankind is about to be made manifest. The power of sin is cancelled in this. And yet, the effect of sin as the cause of spiritual death in all of us remains. For those who accept the Lord as Savior, the power of the resurrection revives the spiritual life of that person.
Many have said that they felt Judas was unfairly singled out and destined for Hell. Rather than say it is horrible that one man we know of has been eternally separated from God, it is much more amazing to me that anyone ever finds the narrow way that Jesus made for us. It is a far greater thing that God has made the way and reaches out to us at all. We, as humans, see and think in the structure of time. We set our alarm clocks to specific times, we eat meals at set times, we go to and leave work at particular times, we record events and history by time, we race time itself as we attempt to go faster and farther in our human endeavors. God lives outside of this structure of time that He created for us. Jesus stepped into time and human history to show us God's love for a fallen race. Could it be that outside of time, God saw one man who would eventually refuse His loving offer of salvation as an act of will? God can see the end of all things before they start, including your life and mine. And knowing this, could God have used this man to show His deep, powerful offering of grace and mercy? Judas saw and even performed miracles, he heard the Master teach time and time again. He saw Lazarus raised from the dead. He saw the feeding of the 5,000 and ate from the leavings of that feast. Jesus did not shun Judas in any way. Grace upon grace was lavished upon Judas, even to this point in time. A powerful picture of the love that Jesus came to demonstrate to each of us. It is another example of how God can take our failures and our disobedience and turn them into shining examples of His love, grace and mercy.
The final verse explains that the enemy entered into Judas. Was it the enemy planting plans in Judas' head, or was he literally possessed? I am not sure, but it was enough that he submitted to the plan of action that would lead our Lord and Savior to Calvary. If there was any hesitation in Judas' mind, it must have vanished when Jesus told him to do quickly what he must. As Judas runs out of the upper room, Jesus is left with eleven men who are confused and yet, completely open to the things that Jesus now must pass on to them. The remaining disciples must have been hanging on for any word that Jesus would be willing to pass along at this moment. These men will, under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, rock the world for their Lord Jesus. But not before their own worlds are shaken to the very core. We will look at these final instructions as we continue moving toward the cross.
Jesus, You alone are the cause for anyone ever finding salvation. You show us that in the life of Judas, Your betrayer. And yet, Your love was extended to him as well, all the way to the very last moments of his life. You show us such undeserved patience and mercy, it staggers our minds once we see it. Help us to be mirrors of that patience and grace as we go about our daily lives. Help us to love others as You have loved us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.