now continue in the upper room with the departure of Judas – and the warning of
18“I am not
referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the
scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’£
19“I am telling you now before it happens, so
that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and
whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
21After he had said this, Jesus was troubled
in spirit and testified, “I
tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”
22His disciples stared at one another, at a
loss to know which of them he meant. 23One of them, the disciple whom Jesus
loved, was reclining next to him. 24Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and
said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him,
“Lord, who is it?”
26Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this
piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave
it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan
entered into him.
“What you are about to do, do
quickly,” Jesus told him, 28but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was
telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the
poor. 30As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he
went out. And it was night.
31When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is
glorified in him. 32If God is glorified in him,£ God will glorify the Son in himself, and
will glorify him at once.
33“My children, I will be with you only a
little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you
now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one
36Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now,
but you will follow later.”
37Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you
now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?
I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
begin with one of the enigmas of the New Testament: Judas, the betrayer of
Jesus. Since the foundation of the church, his name has been a synonym for one
who betrays. We are given little history about the man, but there are some
things we do know.
is clear from this and other passages that Jesus knew exactly who his betrayer
would be. It seems odd, therefore, that he would not have announced this fact
– after all, Judas has already been to the priests to get the money – so why
does Jesus not announce this fact?
because the fact is long established – in the prophecies of the Old
Testament. Jesus’ purpose here is not to proclaim Judas guilty; his
purpose is to link prophecy with fulfillment, so that his disciples might
he tells the twelve – so that they will understand after the
Resurrection. He wants no bold plan to rescue him; rather, he wants to
do the Father’s will.
speaks here of acceptance – he who accepts the Christian, accepts Christ,
he who accepts Christ accepts God. Is this not a warning? If it is true
of acceptance, is it not true of denial? And if denial, how much more
That last is important; for the disciples know how close denial is to
betrayal. And they know what is in their own hearts.
indeed, this is the last warning. But even for a sin so serious, for a
betrayal of the innocent, Christ forces no one to accept him. Softly and
tenderly, Jesus is calling.
Do so quickly
is a curious phrase in here. Jesus knows what Judas will do, and tells him to
do so quickly…..why?
it’s like pulling a bandage off – sometimes it’s best to rip it off
quickly and get the sting over with. There must be sadness in Jesus’
heart; why would he want it to linger? This is especially true in light
of all that Jesus will tell them this night.
keeping with the prophecy, Jesus must be betrayed this very night.
So Judas must not dawdle. Even in evil, all things belong to God.
is merciful. Even for the traitor, he would not parade one man’s sins
before his fellows.
Hospitality and treason
identifies his betrayer – with hospitality. Nothing so struck the ancient
writers about this as much as the fact that Judas shared bread from Jesus. It
is a gesture of hospitality, of favor from the host to the guest. Jesus, in a
common symbol of the time, welcomes Judas into his presence. By the rules of
courtesy (which persisted into the 20th century in this culture)
Judas is obligated to Jesus – as being his guest. At the very least he should
refrain from ill chosen words – and certainly is not permitted to betray him.
The gesture is a telling one.
leaves. John, the great writer of the New Testament, paints the picture with
four simple words: “and it was night.” How clearly does he portray the
blackness of heart in Judas!
look: Judas leaves – and then the glory of God is revealed. John the writer
has shown us a triumph. In the presence of evil God’s glory is not revealed;
when the evil one departs, then Jesus can speak of glory.
clear from this and other accounts that some, at least, of the disciples, knew
that Judas was the betrayer. So why didn’t they beat him to a pulp (in a
decent Christian manner, of course)?
may be that he left so quickly they didn’t have the chance.
than that, they’re having trouble believing that any of them could do such
a thing. They’re in shock at the thought of it.
then, as they examine themselves, each one asks, “Is it I?” They have
learned what is in the heart of man. A season of self-examination has
Is it I?
plain fact is this: all of us are sinners, and therefore capable of incredible
wickedness and evil. That’s a fact. That’s not a question. The question is,
“What are we going to do about it?”
please, one thing: despite (or perhaps because) of their feelings of loyalty,
they have learned that Jesus is a better judge of human character than they
are. He says one will betray; they take it as fact. They do what human
beings usually do when at a loss: they stare at each other, They’re looking
for help, and not finding it.
is no help, if not in Christ. Sinners we are, one and all. They knew it too;
they knew what mankind is capable of. They had struggled against sin, and knew
its power. Now, they see its fruit.
having been rebuked in the matter of washing the feet, is hesitant to ask for
another rebuke. So he takes the back door. You must picture that these men
are lying down, angled up to the table. Peter asks; John rolls backwards
until his head is at Jesus’ chest. The question can now be whispered.
points out the man – so that they may know that all is in God’s hands. But see
one thing: betrayal is close by – within hand’s reach.
should be horrified at this betrayal. But we should also take steps to see to
it that we do not fall into any such sin.
matter is first one of prayer: “Lead us not into temptation.” Some of us
are sure we cannot fall; such surety is pride.
we should seek no praise. Judas, after all, was a highly competent man –
we know that from the fact that he was placed in charge of the money.
Somebody thought he was capable.
we must remember not to meddle in things above us. So often we are
concerned with when this or that prophecy will be fulfilled that we
neglect the tasks at hand.
How can the commandment to “love one another” be considered new? It is clearly
stated in the Old Testament.
newness is in this: “as I have loved you.” There’s the difference! No longer
is love to be limited by our own capability; we are to love like Christ loved
us? How can we do this? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
what does this mean? Let’s take it logically: just how does Christ love us?
What are the characteristics of his love for us?
loves us first – even when we did not love him, he loved us. His
love is not conditioned on our love. So we should love each other.
loves us despite our sin. Even though we are not perfect, and he
is, he still loves us. Can we say the same of each other, even in the
closest of human relationships?
loves us sacrificially – he is willing to give up life itself that
we might live. Are we so sacrificial even in our own families?
loves us continually – God is good, all the time. His love for us
does not depend upon his mood.
loves us humbly – not making a point of how great his love is, not
setting himself up. Sometimes we are so proud to be so humble.
A sign to others
is a curious – but very important – fact: the sign of the true church is found
in how her sons and daughters love each other. This is the sign.
sign is not miracles. We often believe that one miracle would change our
belief to certainty. Consider the ancient Israelites who saw the miracles
wrought by Moses – and see too their rebellion. Miracles are not the sign
of the true church.
are words: great preaching is not the sign of the true church. No matter
how eloquent the preacher or the teacher, the spoken word does not signify
the true church.
this love does: love that is so deep that it caused the one sinless man
to die as our ransom. There is the true sign of the true church.
and I are to love one another with the love so deep that it brought Jesus to
the Cross. It sounds hard. But please remember: there is no glory without
is unlikely that we will get the chance to betray our Lord; but we certainly
will be given the chance to deny him. This must hurt him deeply; think how
you feel when you overhear a “friend” laughing at you. Denial is done in
words; Peter would deny him three times. Denial is also done in works.
Remember how he will separate the sheep and the goats?
are bad enough; deeds are certainly fatal. It therefore is good for us to
examine ourselves in this matter (commanded at communion) and see. The
potential to deny our Lord is always there. We must build ourselves up in
faith and grace so that we do not become those who praise him on Sunday and
deny his very existence on Monday.