John 13.18-30 – Jesus Predicts Judas’s Betrayal

In a glaring and hurtful example of the division between those who believe and those who don’t, we discover that even being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t guarantee that one will be a believer. We learned before that being Jewish didn’t guarantee it, and being a religious leader didn’t guarantee it. Here we learn a staggering truth: that not even all of those who followed Jesus closely ended up as believers. Belief, as it turns out, is only guaranteed by one scenario: Those who give their hearts to Him for eternity.

Jesus notifies his disciples that it has always been this way. As a matter of fact, this betrayal was foreseen centuries before it happened. Jesus makes sure his disciples know this, because it’s yet another verification of the truth of who he is and what he is on earth to do. It also lets his disciples know that the events that are about to unfold are not an accident, or elements outside of his control, but they are all part of grand plan.

That doesn’t take away the emotional pain of it all, though, and the sting of betrayal at the hand of a close friend. We must see in this the agony that our sins cause God. It is written that we grieve the Holy Spirit, but too often we read that impersonally. Here we can see it in the flesh: our rejection of God causes him great spiritual agitation and sorrow. See him crying over Jerusalem saying, “I wish you had come to me.” He meant it, and their rejection of him broke his heart.

“One of you will betray me.” Judas is by this time, no doubt, scared and a bundle of nerves, but still determined to follow through on his plan.

What??? The disciples are blown away, confused, and accusatory. One of us? You can see the eye contact going on around the table. The other gospels record for us that they all questioned, “Is it I?” I believe this was a moment of spiritual insight, similar to what Isaiah experience in his vision of chapter 6. When confronted with the presence of God, he became so acutely aware of his own sin that he fell ashamed before the Lord. So also in the beginning of the gospel story, Peter, after the great catch of fish, fell before Jesus in shame and confession of sin. I believe this moment was a similar experience. At Jesus’ turmoil and statement, the disciples, instead of looking to one another for blame, felt the intense shortcoming of personal sin, and in a moment of spiritual truth looked to their own souls in shame. Knowing that it could easily be any one of them, they each questioned their own hearts, aware of being in the presence of God. Judas, present in the room, also searched his own soul, closed down his own conscience, and continued with his betrayal. He sealed his own fate.

Peter asks John to ask Jesus which one of them it is. Jesus says, “The one to whom I give this bread after I dip it is he.” Dipping and sharing bread was a token of friendship in their culture. Jesus is reaching out yet again, as he did when he washed Judas’s feet, to convince his friend to turn back from his plan.

But for Judas to take the bread, knowing what he was about to do, was something that just wasn’t done. I am searching for a parallel in our culture. An extreme example may be the shooting of one’s own mother. Evil people shoot other people, but only the vilest could kill his own mother. The nuance here is the same. Many rude people may betray their friends, but only an evil person would dip bread and then betray.

Judas must have been wiggling around in his own skin from anxiety. But even at this point Jesus gives him an out, and still treats him with kindness. Jesus offered the bread of intimate friendship to Judas, and he took it. This is the second act of betrayal, and it will be followed by a third one in the garden. (The first had been making the deal and taking the cash.) Judas betrayed Christ 3 times, just as Peter denied Christ three times.)

Then it says Satan entered into Judas. It is possible that, just as an evil spirit from the Lord came upon King Saul after his rejection of God, Judas’ heart at this point was so strongly against Jesus that he opened himself up to Satan’s control. Jesus, from that perspective, turned him over to Satan.

Jesus told him, “Go and do what you are determined to do.” Notice that Jesus, not Satan, is the authority in the room. Jesus is in full knowledge and in full control.

As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out into the night, an archetype of the evil in his heart.


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