Read John 13:18-30
The low point of John’s gospel is hard to read and appreciate. Jesus painfully informs the disciples that one among them will betray Him. The scene unfolds so quickly that they don’t have a chance to grasp the significance of Judas’ hasty exit. It’s dark and difficult, but we have to read it anyway.
We pick up this story as an extension of the previous lesson. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and explained the meaning of this gesture with a caveat that suggested we should follow His example if we want to receive His blessing. This private conversation was meant for the select few disciples with one exception.
“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ John 13:18
Jesus reaches back into the book of psalms to a time when David was overwhelmed with sadness. His enemies took joy in causing pain and even those he loved turned against him.
Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.
When I first read this verse I thought I could relate to the pain based on a close friend who turned against me. I was immediately convicted and overwhelmed with shame that I would consider comparing my difficulties with my Lord and Master. I guess I’m only human. Lord forgive me and help me truly learn to be one who washes the feet of others, who leads with integrity. Help me read the rest of Psalm 41 and live up to the high hopes that David embodied.
Sadness overwhelmed Jesus. Maybe I’m melancholy merely reading this passage. During this very private meal, Jesus washed their feet and taught them a lesson, then he tells them this difficult thing:
“Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” John 13:21
Once again I believe the room fell silent. The disciples are looking at each other trying to figure out what He means. John tells us they were, “at a loss to know which one of them he meant” (John 13:22).
It’s no surprise that Peter speaks up, but instead of asking Jesus directly, he asks John to ask Jesus. Peter the brave doesn’t seem so bold at this point. Remember this posture when we look at the very next scene. Anyway, John asks Jesus who will betray Him.
Jesus 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, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” John 13:26-27
Still, no one understood what was happening at the time. For those who have the gift of discernment, I’m sure you can relate. Something deep in your chest is burning as your heart races. Something’s wrong here. This makes no sense. For months they’ve wandered the countryside, watched miracles, heard Jesus teach the greatest and the least. But something is happening at this moment that is hard to explain.
I think they might be suffering like I was when I read the quote from Psalm 41. They were stuck looking introspectively, they were evaluating their own motivation when Jesus said something about dipping bread and whispering to Judas. It’s just my imagination, but I think they were completely unaware as if shell-shocked. By the time they came to, Judas was gone. The best they could do is piece together some details as conclude he was out doing his treasurer thing.
The darkest moment in John’s gospel has arrived.
As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. John 13:30
And it was night.
Physically it was dark outside. That’s nothing compared to the spiritual darkness that momentarily invaded that space.
The disciples gathered with Jesus for a meal just prior to Passover. They had no idea that the true Passover Lamb was about to be offered for the sins of all mankind for all time. John was able to look back and piece it together for us.
Lord, my heart is heavy when I think about the scene in the upper room. Betrayed by a friend, You bore the weight of all our sin. I’m grateful to know the rest of the story, but sad when I reflect on the road You had to travel. Holy Spirit comfort those who mourn. Wrap them with Your arms and give them peace.