Tonight’s passage is a clear picture of betrayal and apostasy. Apostasy is a falling away from the faith. Tonight we see a man who turns away from Christ to the world. It stands as a strong warning to every man who professes to follow Christ.
READ v. 18. Here is the heartbreak of betrayal. When ANYONE betrays the Lord, Jesus’ heart is cut to the core because a soul is being lost. Two things in particular cut deeply.
1. The betrayer is not chosen by Christ. He can’t be because he rejected Christ so Christ has to reject him. (see Matt. 10:32-33.) Jesus DID stir Judas’ heart to understand that He was the Son of God. But Judas rebelled against the drawing power of Christ and rejected the quickening power of Christ.
When a person is so drawn and quickened by God’s Spirit, he must respond then and there. God says, “My Spirit will not always contend with man forever.” Most people are aware of the tugging to decide for God sometime in their life. But when the tug is rejected, it soon leaves, and the person ceases to think too much about the matter.
The point is this, when a person betrays Christ and begins to live in sin; he shows that he did not truly respond to the movement of God’s Spirit within his heart. That makes him one not chosen of God. That breaks Christ’s heart because He wants every person to pay attention to the call of the Spirit and to respond to His offer of eternal salvation.
2. The 2nd thing that cuts deeply is that the betrayer eats with Christ, yet his heel is against Christ. Judas actually ate bread with Jesus. He was a friend of Jesus, not an enemy. He didn’t hate Jesus, he cared for Him. He often walked into the house of God with Jesus and had close fellowship with Him. Judas was a follower, a choice disciple, yet Judas lifted up his heel against Jesus. This is a picture of a horse lifting up his hoof to kick. Judas kicked Jesus in a sense. He struck Him with the fatal blow of disloyalty, of contempt, and of betrayal.
The whole scene is one of tragedy.
READ v. 19-20. We are seeing a prediction of the betrayal. Jesus predicted the betrayal to strengthen and assure the disciples.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be strong in their belief in Him as the Messiah. Once the prophecy came to pass, they would know that Jesus was all knowing. Their faith in Him would be strongly strengthened.
THOUGHT: And we know that God knows every person’s heart. Even a person’s inner thoughts are known to God, as well as what a person does. No one can hide what He does from God, not even a thought. God knows if a man is betraying His Son. He even knows if a man is thinking about sinning and turning his back on Jesus. The more man thinks about sinning, the more likely he is to turn back. So his betrayal can be predicted.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be assured of the dignity of their call as servants of God. Judas had betrayed the call, and his betrayal had left a bad image in people’s minds and reflected a poor image of the ministry. It could affect some people, causing them to question the power of Christ, even causing others to actually withdraw and turn away from the ministry. The betrayal could cause some disciples to become discouraged, feeling that God’s call and ministry didn’t have the dignity that Christ claimed.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be assured of God’s indwelling presence. Christ put Himself on par with God. To receive Christ is to receive God. What a promise to the believer!
READ v. 21-26. Here’s the last chance given to the betrayer. Jesus exposed Judas but He did it quietly, and He did it to give Judas a last chance to repent and to turn from his evil.
Jesus was troubled in spirit over all this. Jesus testified, He said, “I tell you the truth,” stressing the extreme seriousness of betrayal. The disciples became nervous and self-conscious over Jesus’ exposure of a betrayer. They had no idea. They were totally unaware of a deserter. They looked at one another wondering just who it might be.
Judas was a counterfeit disciple. In public he was ideal; moral, decent, upright. No one ever suspected him. It was what Judas did in secret that doomed him, not what he did in public. He was a deserter, a man of the world behind the scenes.
Note the tenderness of Jesus. He didn’t reveal the betrayer by name. Jesus was making the man aware that He knew about his desertion, and He was hoping that the man would begin to fear and turn from his evil deed.
The disciples wanted to know who the traitor was. One of the disciples who was leaning next to Jesus (believed to be John) was asked by Peter to ask Jesus for the name of the betrayer.
Jesus didn’t name Judas as the traitor, not vocally. He didn’t want the disciples to know who the betrayer was. Judas still had a chance. Jesus drew Judas close by His side. Apparently, He asked Judas to sit by His side. He was close enough that Jesus could reach him and hand the piece of bread to him. Jesus wanted him close so that Judas would be in a position to consider the seriousness of what he was doing. God has him listening. God want him to consider the seriousness of his sin. God will place the betrayer in a position where he has to consider the seriousness of what he is doing.
Jesus gave very special attention to Judas. He gave the piece of bread to Judas. The piece of bread was a sign of special attention and affection. This act of affection actually turned suspicion away from Judas, because Jesus seemed to be saying, “Judas means something special to me.” This act also gave Judas a chance to repent.
Jesus identified Judas, but only to John. But john didn’t fully grasp what was happening. Remember the disciples had no idea that Jesus was about to be murdered. The giving of the piece of bread, because of its sign of affection, also threw suspicion away from Judas.
The whole scene is a picture of a strong appeal of Jesus to a man who was about to sell his soul for the goods of the world. It’s the picture of the last chance being given to a betrayer.
Note that this is the last chance Judas would ever have to repent. There would be no more opportunities. The Lord was appealing and doing all He could. The decision was the deserter’s. There would be no more chances.
READ v. 27-30. Here is the warning against betrayal. This whole scene is a warning to every person who claims to be a follower of Christ. Remember, Judas was a disciple, a man who ate with Jesus and was a close friend of Jesus.
Evil possessed Judas; Satan entered him. This was a critical moment. Sitting there, Judas stiffened and refused to listen. He hardened his heart and made the decision to give himself over to evil and to do the work of Satan. He made the decision to be filled with the thoughts of wrong and of Satan, to act for sin, to be controlled by evil and Satan.
Judas made the decision to do as he had planned. He gave himself over to evil. It’s pretty clear; to sin is to be possessed by sin and by Satan himself.
Jesus charged Judas: act now and act quickly. Once a person has made the decision to desert Him, Jesus wants no dallying around. He wants the traitor and counterfeit disciple out from among His fellowship.
In all this we also have the deception of the disciples. Judas had hid his sin well. The other disciples had no idea what was happening. Being able to hide and keep sin a secret is not a cute trick. It’s not a reason for feeling more capable than others. It’s not a reason for feeling that your ego is boosted.
Hiding and keeping sin a secret is building one’s life upon a false foundation that will result in a collapsed life. The very fact that true disciples are unaware of a person’s sin is a warning to the sinner. He is building a life of deception and lies that will crumble every worthwhile relationship he has.
Matthew 7:26-27 (New American Standard Bible)
26"Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27"The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."
Finally, we see in v. 30 that the judgment is descriptive. The deserter was separated immediately. He went out into the night and into the darkness. I think John added this verse as a symbolic measure. He said, “It was night.” Night is dark. Darkness represents sin.
Judas chose to be used by Satan and so he went out into the darkness of sin to do the deed.