Duty Calls – Part 1 (John 13:18-30)
By Andrew E. Courtis
I am sure that you agree that the thought or experience of losing the loyalty and support of someone close to you is a painful and plaguing thought. To have enemies or opposition is one thing, but for that to come from one who is close to you is deeply troubling. We don’t have to read much in history to hear of many examples of such treachery and I am sure the dark cloud of betrayal in your own experience may cast a shadow on your happiness.
The word betrayal is an ugly word and there is nothing comforting about it. The Old Testament has a number of examples of anguishing betrayal. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:12-36), Samson was deceived and betrayed by Delilah (Judges 16:18-20) and there is of course the horrible betrayal’s David experienced in his own life (2 Samuel 15), one of which was his own son (Absalom).
These were all bad, but the worst betrayal the world has ever seen was Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. For three years Judas was exposed to the perfect and pure life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He saw Jesus respond to criticism with truth and grace, He saw the miracles, he heard the private conversations with the disciples, and he witnessed the prayerful passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, in the words of Charles Spurgeon, “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins”. Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world shone brightly and hardened the wicked and corrupt heart of Judas. The story before us really is troubling and painful. In it we learn that Judas did not love the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus knew it but the disciples didn't.
Sermon Summary: In this passage, we will learn three valuable lessons from the defector's disloyalty.
1. THE BETRAYAL REVEALED CHRIST'S DIVINE PERSON
After Jesus washed His disciples feet, He made it clear that one of them was not converted. Then He goes on to say that He knew that one of them would betray Him. This was no small matter, but what is significant about Christ’s knowledge of the betrayer is that this reveals His Divine Person. As treacherous as this betrayal will be, it did not catch Him by surprise. Jesus said,
“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me” (13:18-20).
The fact that Jesus was in prefect control of this horrible betrayal provides His people with great confidence. Things might be tough and hurtful in your life, but the Lord knows and He will be glorified. Jesus knew that this wicked act occurred in fulfillment to prophecy (Psalm 41:9). Jesus reminded them that “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he”.
Though our Lord always remains the Sovereign Saviour in control of all things, this does not make Him a calloused and cold Saviour. John adds, “After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (13:21).
The thought of such evil against the holy Name of the Lord troubled Him. Jesus knew that this act not only revealed the pain of betrayal, but it was closer to Him being handed over to be tried, crucified and to bear the wrath of God.
Jesus is the Sovereign Saviour who is sensitive to the pain and hurt of His people. The first lesson is that Jesus knew the betrayal would happen because He was in control. What does this mean for us? No matter what happens in your life, if you are the Lord’s He is in control and He cares for you. Losing the loyalty and support of someone close to you is a painful and plaguing experience. But remember, your Saviour is at work and He cares.
2. THE BETRAYAL REVEALED THE DISCIPLE'S PERPLEXITY
After Jesus spoke these words, the disciples all looked at each other and were perplexed (13:22). Speaking about himself in a humble way, John writes, “One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking” (13:23-24). As is the case most of the time Peter says what everyone else is thinking. He got John’s attention and John asked Jesus, “Lord, who is it?” (13:25). This news took them completely by surprise.
When it comes to betrayal, trouble and trials, many times we will not understand why it is happening. In fact, these difficulties can even take us completely by surprise. Everything can be going along smoothly, and then seemingly out of nowhere hardship comes. Of course it is natural to ask questions like “why is this happening?” or “where did this come from?”
An important point to grasp is that when you are numbered among the people of God, hatred toward Christ will overflow to His people. This will take His people by surprise at times and can leave them perplexed.
3. THE BETRAYAL REVEALED JUDAS' DEPRAVED PLEASURE
There is a third valuable lesson to be learned from the defector’s disloyalty. The betrayal revealed Judas’ depraved pleasure. In answer to Peter’s question records Jesus’ response and the events that follow,
“It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
This act of betrayal and defection was wrong and wicked, but it teaches us a lot about Judas. It is important to understand that Judas was not a steadfast and sincere Christian that lost his way. Judas never truly loved the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why would someone like Judas be willing to be numbered as one of the twelve disciples, become treasurer, and externally follow Jesus? There may have been a number of reasons, but what becomes clear about Jesus is that he was a man motivated by greed. He followed Jesus so as to get out of it what he wanted.
There have been, are, and will be people who follow Christ for a time, but when they get their fill, or don’t get what they want they abandon Him. Throughout the gospel accounts we read about the crowds who followed Christ, but of course He saw right through them.
We need to understand that this is what happened to Christ, and if you follow Him it will overflow to His people. The church will have enemies and the outside and inside. The church will have those who claim to be children of God but are not.
What does this passage teach us? It teaches us a great lesson concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. As wicked and painful as it was, He was willing to be betrayed so that He could go to the cross for us. What obedience to the Father and what love for His people. Furthermore, we are reminded that when difficulty comes, our Lord is always in control and He cares for us.
The second lesson is concerning the people of God. We will often be taken by surprise when difficulty comes. There will be those we least expect will abandon Christ; there will be those close to us that will bring harm. This is to be expected, and we can look to the Lord for strength and wisdom.
The final lesson is concerning those who cause trouble. This trouble is always sourced in a love for themselves and their desires. The lesson for us is to keep our eyes on Christ and grow in Him.