He Loved Them to the End: Sermons on John 13-17
John 13:18-30 The Announcement of Betrayal WC McCarter
We have already begun to see the plan unfold. Satan is at work, but the plan of God which is salvation by the blood of Christ is in full effect. The evening is getting darker, but Christ glory is beginning to shine all the more brightly.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
I Know Whom I Have Chosen (18-20)
Verse 18 refers back to verse 10 where Jesus said, “You are clean, but not all of you.” Now He comes back to that statement and says, “I do not speak concerning all of you.” As we saw last week, Jesus knows full well what is going on that evening. He knew all along who He had chosen, and He knew that one of them would betray Him. After all, Scripture had foreshadowed the event that was now coming to pass. David, the great king and psalmist of Israel, prophesied concerning this betrayal. David himself was betrayed, but that betrayal was only a precursor to what the Messiah would experience.
To eat a meal with someone, especially in that culture, was to share a close time of friendship and closeness. The feelings that David experienced when he wrote Psalm 41, were the same feelings that Jesus felt when He was betrayed by a close friend on that last night. Have you ever been betrayed by someone very close to you? Scripture is not only being fulfilled in this act, but Jesus is also proving that He is in the line of David.
There are several interpretations for what “lifting up one’s heel” could mean. I interpret it simply that Judas has turned to walk away, to walk out on Christ. Therefore, “to lift one’s heel” is equivalent to today’s common phrase, “to turn one’s back” on someone. Some stress the metaphor all the more by adding to the idea of betrayal a sense of violence. So, then, the phrase may mean that Judas, like a beast such as a horse or donkey, has raised up his heel to violently kick the Lord. Although Judas, a close friend who was now influenced by Satan, would raise his heel against the Lord, it would be the Son of Man’s heel that would crush the devil’s head. God told this from the very beginning of the sin problem, back in Genesis 3:15. Of the serpent, God said, “You shall bruise His heel,” and of Christ, God said, “He shall crush your head.”
It was important that the disciples hear that Jesus knew what was happening. The disciples may not take comfort in it then, but later, as they are sorting out the events of Christ’s life and glorification, they will remember that the Lord was fully aware of Satan’s plot to influence Judas to betray Him. So, Christ says, “Now I tell you before it comes, that . . . you may believe that I Am.” The reason for telling them ahead of time that He knows is so that the men will believe that Jesus is who He claims to be. This is the famous “ἐγώ εἰμι” in the Greek, the same phrase Christ used for all of the other “I AM” statements. Thus, the NIV translates the phrase, “I am who I am.”
Verse 20 then fills-out the idea of believing that Christ is the I AM and begins with the famous phrase (in the KJV), “Verily, verily, I say unto you. . . .” The phrase is used for emphasis to grab their attention and basically say, Listen up. If you receive Him on that basis (I AM), then you receive the One who sent Him (that is, God the Father). Notice the links: from that point forward the mission would be the responsibility of the apostles. If anyone received them, they were receiving Christ, and anyone who accepted Christ was accepting the Father. If you want a relationship with God, then you must have a relationship with Christ. And we have access to Christ right here in the apostolic word. We are a part of the apostolic community when we are devoted to the uniquely inspired words of the New Testament and all of Scripture.
One of You Will Betray Me (21-22)
Jesus’ reference to His betrayer have been veiled thus far in the language of clean and unclean, but now He tells the men plainly. As He begins to do so, He is greatly troubled in spirit. He does not say that He is troubled in spirit, so it must be obvious to those in the room. They can probably see the trouble all over His face, and they can probably hear it in His voice. This is why the author of Hebrews can say that we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weakness. He has struggled. He has been burdened. He has been deeply troubled. He knows my heartaches, and He knows yours too. With great emotion, He says again, “Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν,” that is, “Truly, truly, I say to you. . . .” Listen up, “One of you will betray Me.”
This threw the disciples for another loop. These men had no categories for these ideas. They had no clue what to do with these notions. They stared at one another, completely confused. Maybe they had thought that the traitor was another person, not in the Upper Room, but was a disciple in the larger group of followers (Carson), but now Jesus focuses the attention to someone there.
Lord, Who Is It? (23-26)
Christian tradition and the internal evidence of the Gospel of John proves that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is the apostle John who wrote this Gospel. This is the first time that the title is used. This disciple, who was there all along, will show up with this same designation again at the cross, at the empty tomb, by the sea when the resurrected Christ appears, and at the end of the book when the writing is attributed to him.
This one was reclining into Jesus’ chest. As marvelous, historic, and famous as da Vinci’s Last Supper painting is, it is not historically accurate. The men would have sat in the floor around a lowered table that may have either been round or “U” shaped; they would have reclined toward the person on their left; and they would have eaten with their right hands. While the Israelites at the first Passover ate in haste, these Jews ate in relaxation. So, John would have been eating to the right of the Lord in a place of honor and privilege.
Because John was sitting close to Jesus, Peter motions to him to ask the Lord who and what He was talking about! We do not know where Peter is sitting, but it is not next to the Lord like John. So, for once, Peter is not the one to speak up and question the Lord, but John will have that privilege, and he will receive privileged information as well. John simply asks, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus answered by saying, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” For this reason, we believe that Judas was sitting very close. In fact, it appears that the betrayer was sitting to the left of the Lord, in the highest place of honor at the table. “In ancient [times], eating bread at the table of a superior amounted to a pledge of loyalty” (Kostenberger, 486). For a host to dip a piece of bread and pass it to a guest was to honor that guest. And the text says, “And having dipped the bread, [Christ] gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” Now, the betrayer has been identified. The one who has lived, worked, and fellowshipped with Jesus for three years; the one who has eaten the Messiah’s bread; the one who has reclined in a place of honor at the Lord’s table; he is the one who will betray Christ!
Satan Entered Him . . . And It Was Night (27-30)
We know that Satan had been influencing Judas Iscariot for a very long time. At the beginning of the chapter we were told that the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas to betray the Lord. Now, when he receives the bread from Jesus, Satan enters him. He becomes fully obedient to the will of Satan. This final act of love, after calling him to discipleship, living with him, teaching him, giving him the responsibility of the money bag, and washing his feet, shows that Jesus offered one more opportunity for Judas to break down in repentance, but his heart hardens all the more. Satan now has complete control over him. He is not merely demon possessed. He is Satan possessed.
Jesus tells him, “What you do, do quickly.” Since Judas has completed the process of hardening his heart, the betrayal is now inevitable. He might as well go and complete the evil transaction. The disciples are still clueless. Jesus has said this loud enough for everyone to hear, but the disciples do not know what He is talking about. They see Judas get up from the table to leave and most of them think nothing of it. Some thought that maybe the Lord had told him to go carry out some treasurer responsibilities, like buying things for the feast (that is, the feast of unleavened bread which came right after Passover) or to give alms to the poor, which was a Jewish tradition at the Passover times.
Judas is under complete control of Satan, but he is still obedient to Jesus. Satan and the demons, of course, must be obedient to the Lord as well. Jesus tells Judas to do what he is going to do quickly, and we are told that Judas leaves immediately. The scene with Judas as a main character in the Upper Room then ends with the statement, “And it was night.” Darkness had covered Jerusalem in the physical sense, but darkness had covered the face of the earth in the spiritual sense.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) You and I need to know, just as the disciples did, that Jesus was fully aware of the events of that evening even before they took place. You cannot find yourself in a situation in which the Lord did not know beforehand.
(2) Christ knows our weaknesses, struggles, and sorrows. He has experienced them Himself. We do not worship a God who does not understand us. He has created us, entered into this creation in order to associate Himself with us, and has died in order to redeem us from the curse of sin. Christ is now our Advocate at the right hand of the Father, constantly interceding for us.
(3) At our Tuesday afternoon Bible study this past week at the Living Well, we studied Psalm 1 which begins with the picture of the ungodly who eventually finds himself in the place of ruin. The psalm pictures an ungodly man first walking in the counsel of the ungodly, then standing in the path of sinners, and finally sitting in the seat of the scornful. The Psalm says that those people are like chaff which the wind drives away. They cannot stand in the judgment because the wrath of God will overwhelm them. Their way will perish. You can see in that psalm that a wicked person does not become that way in only a moment. There is a gradual process of slipping farther and farther into darkness. The heart becomes harder and harder over time.
Judas is a prime example of that fact. At one time he was a trusted companion and the treasurer of the group, but then he begins to steal from the money box, he lies to cover his tracks, he is shown to be greedy, Satan puts the thought in his mind to betray the Lord, there is still no repentance, and finally Satan enters him. His life ends on this earth in a disastrous fashion, and at the judgment he will be swallowed up by the wrath of God.