About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Predicts His Betrayal  (ch. 13:18-30)

 

In verse 18 Jesus wants to make sure that He is not saying that all in the room are going to betray Him.  He encourages them by saying that He knows who He has chosen to be His disciples.  He is in charge.  He even knows that He has chosen a person who would betray Him, but this is all according to what prophecy has foretold in past centuries.  Psalm 41:9 says, "He that shares bread with me has lifted his heal against me." We often think of the Psalms as being songs and poetry, but they are just as much prophetic as Isaiah and other prophetic books.  This whole event was foretold many centuries prior.

 

We are in the midst of a meal at this point.  In the Jewish culture of the day a meal meant more than it does today.  If someone ate a meal with you, he was a close friend, one you could trust.  Here we see Judas eating such a meal with Jesus, knowing that he would betray Jesus.  This must have been one very awkward situation for both Jesus and Judas.

 

The words "lifted up his heal against me" might well be in reference to the first Biblical prophecy ever recorded, and it was spoken by God Himself.  In Genesis 3:15 we see that satan will at some point strike Jesus with his heal.      

 

Verse 19 tells us that Jesus was saying these things before they happened so that when they indeed come about His disciples would believe, or, as the NIV puts it, believe that "I am He."  This is the case for many things that Jesus spoke about.  His disciples did not understand, but once Jesusí predictions came true, then they understood.  The same is true with us today.  There are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled and Christians over the years have argued much about them.  Before they are fulfilled it is hard to know the details, yet once they are fulfilled, we will understand completely.

 

We should note something about the phrase "I am He" as seen in verse 19.  The word "He" is not found in the Greek text.  It's simply "I am", and, Jews would have understood "I am" (the verb to be in Hebrew) as a designation to God.  Again, Jesus was saying, "I am God."   I said this before, but when John wrote his gospel, the Deity of Christ was beginning to be challenged.  What John records in his account confirms that Jesus was in fact God in human flesh.    

 

One major re-occurring theme in the gospel of John is that the Father sent Jesus to earth.  In verse 20 Jesus adds another thought and that is He is sending His disciples out into the world and anyone who accepts them accepts Him and His Father as well.  The apostles, and us too, represent Jesus to the world because He has commissioned us to do so.  Over the centuries the church has not done well representing Jesus to the world. 

 

In verse 21 John mentions that Jesus gets troubled.  We saw this earlier.  It is like trouble is piling up on the heart and soul of Jesus Ė one trouble after another.  This time He was troubled when He told the Twelve that one of them would betray Him.  One of these men who has walked and lived with Jesus for the last few years was going to betray Him.

 

In verse 21, once again the disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about.  Iím sure these poor men were living from one time of confusion to another. Maybe as the troubles were piling up on Jesus, confusion was piling up on the disciples, just not being able to figure out what was happening to them. 

 

Here's a picture of what was going on.  The Twelve plus Jesus were reclining at 3 tables put together in a "u" shape.   The word reclining is important because when eating a meal, slaves stood while free men sat, usually with their left arm on the table keeping their right hand available to eat.  

 

The tables were low to the floor, thus the reason why they were reclining.  John was sitting on one side of Jesus while Judas was most likely on the other side.  Many believe that John was to Jesus' right and therefore could lean back to talk with Jesus.  They assume Judas was on Jesus' left, a place of honour, because Jesus could easily lean back and talk with Judas.

 

Everyone understands the "one who Jesus loved" in verse 23 is John himself.  There's no real question about that.  John just doesn't seem to want to speak of himself in that way.  This goes to show us, that even though Jesus is no respecter of people, while on earth, He was closer to some people than He was to others.  It appears that He had a special bond with John, so much so that while on the cross Jesus told John to look after Mary, His human mother.          

 

In verse 24 John tells us that Peter was concerned enough to motion to the one Jesus loved who was reclining beside Jesus to find out who the traitor was.  Again, all scholars understand the one that Jesus loved was John himself.  Jesus had a number of disciples; out of these disciples He chose twelve to be apostles.  From this twelve there was a smaller group of three, Peter, James, and John that Jesus seems to confide in more than the rest.  On a few special occasions you see Jesus with these three men, the Transfiguration being one example.   Then beyond this it appears that John was special.  I donít believe that Jesus had favourites but it might be possible that Jesus' and John's personalities matched up in such a way that their relationship seemed a little special.

 

I think this is interesting to note.  As members in the present Body of Christ we need to be properly related to others, but it is not practical or really possible to have a good relationship with more than about three people.  You may be part of a group of twelve or so, but time and ability does not allow one to be close to all these people.  Jesus was no different in this respect. 

 

In verse 25 John leaned back and asks, "Lord, who is it?"  The words "lean back" would suggest that John was to the right of Jesus.  That would have placed Judas to the left of Jesus, making it possible for Jesus to lean back and talk to Judas.   

 

We should remember the way in which these men were reclining at the table.  They, for the most part, would be resting their elbow on the table which would have left their right hand free to eat.  Their legs would have been spread out away from the.  With this in mind all that John needed to do was to lean backwards and he would be leaning against  Jesus' breast.  

 

In verse 26 Jesus answers by saying that He would dip a piece of bread into a dish.  Many people believe that the contents of the dish were a herb mixture, maybe like our salad dressing.  Certain foods were normally eaten at Passover and this would have been one of them.  The Jewish tradition concerning this sauce was that it represented suffering.  Therefore, the dipping into this sauce was prophetically ironic.  It represented the suffering that would come; suffering by both Jesus and Judas.  Both would suffer from that point on.  Both would die.  Jesus would die on the cross for our sins.  Judas would kill himself for his part in putting Jesus to death.         

 

Note the word "dipped" in verse 26.  The Greek word that is translated as "dipped" is "bapto."  For those knowing some Greek, you will notice that "bapto" is related to the Greek word "baptizo"  where we get our English word "baptize", as in, "baptize in water."  Both words mean to immerse or dip, but there appears to be a slight difference beyond this general meaning.  Nicander was a Greek poet and doctor.  He lived around 200 BC.  In one of his writings he stated his recipe for making pickles.  He said that first you dip (bapto) the pickles in boiling water and then you dip (baptizo) them into vinegar, which back then would be fermented wine.  Because of Nicanders comment some suggest that bapto is a temporary dipping while baptizo is a longer or more permanent dipping.            

 

Jesus then dipped the bread into the dish, Jesus would give the bread to the betrayer.  It appears that as Jesus was saying these words He was actually doing what He was saying.  He gives the bread to Judas, and Judas takes the bread from Jesus.      

 

Concerning the bread, we should remember that the bread was not like our bread.  It was flat bread, unleavened bread.  It is called Matzah, which means blessing.  There were 3 pieces of this bread placed on top of each other.  The tradition was to pull out the middle one and dip it into the sauce.   

 

What was Jesus thinking and feeling at this moment?  We know that He was troubled.  I think that would have been an understatement.  This would have been a very dramatic moment for everyone in that room, especially for Jesus and for Judas. 

 

What must have been going through Judasí mind?  Itís hard to say, but Iím sure that this moment was dramatic for him as well.  Was he considering changing his mind or did he already have his mind made up?   Any answer would be somewhat speculative. I just can't begin to imagine the emotions, the feelings that overwhelmed everyone in that room, and that includes Jesus.  

 

Prior to this time we know that the devil had tempted and prompted Judas to think about betraying Jesus.  At the very moment that Judas took the bread from Jesus, verse 27 states that the devil entered the heart of Judas.  Reaching out to take the bread from Jesus was an act of Judasí free will to give his life to the devil and the devil responded by entering Judas.  What a moment in history that was; a tiny little moment of time in an out of the way upstairs room that changed the course of human history.

 

Just in case you are wondering if the devil actually entered the life and soul of Judas I believe he did.  The Greek word translated into English here literally means "to go into."  Satan did enter the heart of Judas, as I believe he will the heart of the anti-Christ at the end of this age. 

 

Jesus then told Judas to do quickly what he was about to do.  I think Jesus was telling Judas to start the betrayal process right away.  It was almost as if Jesus was giving Judas and the devil the permission to begin the execution process.  It was now time.  The time, the exact moment in human history had come.  It's almost as if Jesus was saying, "Let's go.  Let's get this over with."   

 

Of course the disciples, as seen in verse 28, had no clue what this meant.  Verse 29 tells us that they thought that Jesus was telling Judas to buy something for the Feast or to give some money to the poor, since Judas was in charge of the money.  You would wonder why the disciples would have had such a thought after Jesus just said that the one he gave the bread to would betray Him. 

 

Verse 30 tells us that as soon as Judas took the bread from Jesus he got up and left.  I don't think Judas hesitated in the least.  I think he got up immediately and left as quickly as possible.  I don't think he felt like hanging around any longer.  The pressure on Judas at that moment must have been overwhelming.  He had to leave before he changed his mind, but, could he change his mind at that point?  The devil had already entered Judas. It was probably too late now to have a change of mind.    

 

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