Summary: Jesus has reached the point of no return – the cross was going to be inevitable. However, despite the fact that it is Judas who is betraying Him Jesus still calls Judas “friend”. Such actions help us to know what to do when we are betrayed.
“Betrayed by how many?”
Congregation in the Lord
When you go to the top part of the Niagara Falls there is a point which you can reach which is called “the point of no return”. No boat, no matter how powerful the engine, is able to pull away from the surging of water heading over the falls. Once that point is reached a crash at the bottom of the falls is inevitable. In many ways we could say that our text is the point of no return for Jesus. From this moment all the events linked to His death will unfold. From this moment He is under constant guard and cannot escape. From this moment His destiny is in the hands of the Pharisees, Pilate, the crowds and the soldiers.
Now imagine if you were on the deck of a boat that had reached the point-of-no-return at Niagara Falls. What would be happening? For some it would be the pure terror of the inevitable … “I know I am going to die”. There could be the individual drive to try and preserve yourself and fight for the safest place on the boat … if there is one. For some there would be that real sense of regret, “Why did I ever come on this tour?”. That’s how it would work … don’t you agree?
Now let’s go back to Jesus and His situation. Do you sense any terror? Not at all. Jesus has just been pouring out His heart to God in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane – Luke tells us that Jesus was so overwhelmed by the situation that He was sweating drops of blood. But three times He prays to God, “Not My will but Your will be done”. Such words are not said lightly. Jesus is about to face a once-in-an-eternity pouring out of God’s anger onto His Son. Jesus knows He is in for the most difficult part of His ministry. Yet Jesus faces that moment with a determined resolve.
Or take the situation of the whole arrest debacle which we read about in John’s Gospel. Here comes a group of people. Judas – on the verge of earning 30 pieces of silver. Some officials from the temple – just to make sure they get the right man. A detachment of soldiers – just in case there is a battle. They have torches lanterns and weapons. All Jesus and the 11 disciples have are two swords. Yet when Jesus says three words “I am He … they drew back and feel to the ground”. He may be at the point-of-no-return but we don’t detect a hint of terror in Jesus:- in fact He is probably the only one in the group who doesn’t feel scared in some way.
Well, if there is no terror, has Jesus turned to self-preservation? Do we see this occurring in Jesus? Not really. When Judas comes to give Him the “kiss of death” Jesus doesn’t turn away He says, “Friend, do what you came for”. It almost seems like Jesus is forcing the issue. The same applies when Jesus rebukes Peter. Peter is ready to fight to the death for His master. Does Jesus thank Peter for that act of bravery? Far from it … he gives Peter an earful “those who live by the sword will die by the sword”. Jesus is not happy about the actions of His bodyguard. Indeed in that same context we hear another extraordinary truth from Jesus. “Do you think I cannot call on My Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels”. One angel is powerful enough to hold back the four winds, imagine what 12, 000 of them could do. Self preservation is only a word away yet Jesus – even though Jesus is at the point-of-no-return – He does not take advantage of it.
So there is no hint of terror and there is no hint of self-preservation. Could it be that we see in Jesus a sign of regret about this turn of events? Again we say no. Jesus has known for a long time that Judas was going to betray Him. Right back in John 6:70-71 we read:-
“Jesus [said], “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil! (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, thought one of the Twelve, was late to betray Him)”.
That being the case Jesus could have exposed Judas at anytime between then and now – but He doesn’t. A prime opportunity occurred at the Lord’s Supper; which was only a few hours earlier. Jesus declares there – one of you is a betrayer. Each disciple answer “Surely not I, Lord”. When it came to Judas Jesus reveals the truth “Yes! Yes it is you” – but not in a way that makes the other disciples suspicious of what is happening. Jesus knew and could have exposed Judas. Is He now regretting it? As Judas comes with that kiss does Jesus say, “O I wish I had told everyone about the real person you are”.