John 13:18-30 The Upper Room Discourse

One of You Will Betray Me

Can you imagine the scene that night in the upper room? Those twelve men and Jesus had gathered around a table to remember and celebrate the Passover. This is what every Jew would have been doing that day. The main meal would have been eaten in the afternoon, but the celebration would have continued into the night. They were to remember that God had rescued them from the oppression in Egypt. He was the One that lifted them up on eagle’s wings and carried them to the Promised Land. God fought a mighty battle that day for His children, Israel, and was victorious over her enemies. They were to remember how the angel of death swept through Egypt’s land during that last plague and how they were passed over because of the blood of a lamb that had been shed. But this Passover was a celebration unlike the first. The first was eaten in haste with everyone dressed to travel. This one was eaten in relaxation with more of a party atmosphere. Jewish custom said to relax at this meal…recline at the table…enjoy the freedom that they enjoyed as the people of God…

Though the disciples were ready for a celebration, their Master had other plans. Surely they enjoyed their time together and ate the meal in an enjoyable fashion, but Jesus would soon begin to change the mood of the room. The atmosphere would turn from merriment to grief. No one would be cutting up or joking around when Jesus took off His outer garments, girded Himself with a towel, and washed their feet. The party train came to a screeching halt when Jesus said, “You are not all clean.” No one enjoyed seeing Jesus “troubled in spirit” or hearing Him say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

No one wants a serious person at a party, but what could the disciples have done to stop Jesus? There was one time when Jesus began telling His disciples what would soon take place (He would go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, be murdered, and be raised back to life on the third day) and at that time Peter rebuked Him. He took Jesus aside in Matthew 16:22 and said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” Do you remember how Jesus responded? “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” It was a daring effort to try and correct Jesus. No one would stop this plan. And what the disciples did not realize in that upper room was the fact that these things would happen the very next day! Christ would be betrayed that night and crucified the next day! He had many more things to say to them. He had to prepare them. They needed to know that He was in full control of the events that would soon take place.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

That the Scripture May be Fulfilled [18-19]
This is the third time in the upper room that betrayal is mentioned (SEE vv 2, 11, 18-19).
It will come in full-force from John’s perspective beginning with v21. The blessing that would come from following Jesus’ lead in humble service would not apply to Judas. We know the rest of his story: betrayal, guilt, and suicide. He would try to be self-sufficient by first being greedy and, after realizing that he had betrayed innocent blood, he would fix the problem on his own.
He could not rely on the grace of God. He caused the crisis and he would dig himself out. We see where that attitude will get someone…We must rest in faith…

Jesus knew who he had chosen. He had chosen all twelve men to be His disciples (the Apostles).
Yet, things were about to happen which would fulfill Scripture. You see, God knows the past perfectly, the present perfectly, and the future perfectly. He had said through David, long before the upper room events, “He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.” The verse stemmed from David’s life when he had been betrayed by close friends during a rebellion. Yet, it ultimately referred to the Messiah, as so many of the Psalms do. To eat bread with someone was an act of intimacy, friendship, and closeness. Eating bread at the table of a superior was considered a pledge of loyalty (Kostenberger). The phrase “lifted up his heel” has been interpreted several different ways. Some have said that it refers to a treacherous horse who strikes its master with its heels or that it refers to the wiping the dust off of one’s shoes in an act of disregard. I think it simply parallels our modern phrase of “turning your back on another.” When you turn your back on another you are lifting your heel, you are walking away as if to say I’m done with you. So, Jesus basically says, A close friend will turn his back to betray Me. That night Judas was done with Jesus and the eleven others. A treacherous act was committed.

Jesus was called a prophet by many simply because He could tell things that were to come. Jesus was divine, but in the incarnation He had given up the independent use of His divine attributes. In His humanity Jesus could not always know what was to come, but often times the Father would make the future known to Him. We can not know when Jesus became aware of Judas’ plot, but at some point Jesus realized what was to come. In fact, Jesus had this knowledge at least a year before it would happen. He asked His disciples in John 6:70, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” At that time, the disciples took the statement as a grain of salt. Judas himself had probably not even considered the evil he would do, yet Christ knew.
Though the disciples would not know what He was doing or saying in the upper room, He wanted them to know beforehand for one reason: “that…you may believe that I am.” After these happenings the disciples would realize that Jesus knew full-well what would come about. They would believe that He was all that He claimed to be: the Christ, the Son of God, the fulfillment of the Law, the fulfillment of all the prophecies, that He was/is the divine I AM.

Most Assuredly, I Say to You [20]
After vv18-19 Jesus returns to the teaching that sprung from the footwashing. In v20 He concludes that teaching before returning again to the issue of betrayal. We must look at v16 with v20 to understand what is being said. Both verses begin with the famous, “Most assuredly” or as the KJV puts it “Verily, Verily, I say unto you…” The proverb here in v20 is based on the master/servant principle. The disciples enjoyed what it meant to be accepted as one sent by their master, Jesus and they needed to accept Jesus, the One sent by the Father. Jesus wanted them to commit to these claims that He was making as the One who was sent by the Father.

One of You Will Betray Me [21-25]
Jesus was not afraid to show His emotions. It was clear to John that “He was troubled in spirit.”
This is the third time in the Gospel of John that Jesus was seen to be troubled in spirit.
SEE 11:33; 12:27; and now 13:21. Each of the three times that invoke emotion are the result of human death, the last two being His own.
He finally comes out and says it as bluntly as possible, “One of you will betray Me.” The disciples are no doubt caught off guard, though Jesus had been telling them all along. It may have become more and more real to them that this could be the case. They knew what kind of pressure was being heaped upon them, mainly Jesus. The authorities in Jerusalem wanted to permanently silence Him.

Traditionally, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is the author of this gospel account, the Apostle John (son of Zebedee, brother of James). He was apparently in a place of honor to Jesus right and would have reclined toward Jesus’ chest. The custom for special feasts, such as the Passover, was to recline on cushions at a short, platform-type table in the floor. Each would lean on his left arm, eat with his right hand, and extend his feet away from the table. The table would be in a “U” shape with the host directly in the middle. Those who sat closest were considered to be in places of honor, right beside the host. SEE Mark 10:37. Peter wanted some answers so he motioned to John to find out who Jesus was talking about. Maybe he was thinking that he would get the guy to the side and straighten him out… John asks Jesus, “Lord who is it?”

A Piece of Bread [26-29]
John did not get a name, but he was shown who it would be. Jesus said it would be who He gave a morsel to…and it was Judas. Apparently Judas was on the left of Jesus, ironically in the highest place of honor. Jesus could reach to Him with that piece of bread. Dipping and passing a piece of bread to a guest was also considered an honorary gesture. O, how that upper room was filled with irony that night! O, how the love of Jesus was extended to His betrayer!

When Judas took the piece bread, the love of the Lord did not enter him, but Satan did. As one man said, “Receiving from Jesus is something vastly different from receiving Him” (Harrison). Judas had entertained the evil thought from the Devil to betray the Lord and now Satan has complete control of him. He has dined with the Son of God and now he has raised his heel against Him. Notice that Jesus sped up the process: “What you do, do quickly.” Judas has signed his fate, he had pledged his allegiance, he loved the darkness more than light. It was John who wrote in 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

The majority of the disciples did not know what he going on. Jesus had said something and Judas had left the house. They thought that Jesus had instructed Judas, the treasurer, to go out and buy necessities for the feast (of unleavened bread) or possibly to give alms at the Temple, which was Jewish tradition on the night of the Passover (the gates were left unlocked all night).

And it was Night [30]
Darkness could not overcome the light, but it had overcome Judas that night. Therefore, John concludes, “Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.” It was night literally night and darkness had spread of the city, but darkness had also figuratively flooded the heart of Judas. I think it is appropriate to apply what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:21 to Judas. It would read something like this, “Although [Judas] knew God, [he] did not glorify Him as God, nor [was] thankful, but became futile in [his] thoughts, and [his] foolish [heart was] darkened.”

Let us conclude this way: this text was all about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. We read and ponder this from time to time and think to ourselves, How gross an act! Yet, do you not see how close Judas was to the light? He was so close that until that night, we read no where in the Gospels that Judas ever doubted Jesus or was anything other than devoted to His cause. In fact, he was a trusted disciple…he was the treasurer! From the evidence that we have in Scripture, it took only one night, a few short hours, for Judas to fall into the hands of the evil one and ultimately into “the place where he belongs” (Acts 1:25), namely Hell. One person put it this way, “Judas is the reminder that every day is judgment day and that on any day some faithful follower, like Judas—or like you and me—might turn tail on the light and stumble out into the darkness, caught up in evil or caught up by evil’s prince” (Bartlett).

Don’t misunderstand Jesus – believe that He is who He claims to be – trust Him.
Do not try to be self-sufficient – seeking your own well-being – fixing your own problems.
You can not pay for your own sins – simply trust in Jesus – rest in the grace of God!