Turn to John 18, starting in verse 13. Jesus, speaking to His disciples, says,”‘I speak not of you all, I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with Me has lifteth up his heel against Me. Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he who receiveth whomever I send, receiveth Me. And He that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me. When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.’ Then the disciples looked
one on another, doubting of whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom, one of His disciples whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him that he should ask who it should be of whom He spoke. He, then lying on Jesus’ breast, saith unto Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘he it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it.’ And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop, Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, ‘What thou doest, do quickly.’ Now no man at the table knew with what intent he spoke this unto him, for some of them thought that because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, I Buy those things that we have need of for the feast. Or that he should give something to the poor. He, then, having received the sop, went immediately out, and it was night.” May God bless this portion of Scripture to your hearts. Our lesson comes from the 13th Chapter of John. And I must add that this message, by the nature of the person involved, is difficult and a little bit unusual.
I have always found it difficult to speak on the subject of Judas. When I was in seminary, and writing my dissertation to graduate, I chose the subject of Judas Iscariot and wrote my thesis on that subject. And even during the year that I spent working on that, and the time since that I’ve studied it, I find it extremely difficult. Perhaps because you’re prying so close to the activity of Satan. Nevertheless, this morning, we come to the confrontation as it comes head to head between Jesus and Judas.
The name Judas itself bears a kind of a stigma which burns within us. He who betrayed the Son of God with a kiss has become the most despised person in the annals of human history. His personality is the darkest on the chronicle of the world. And in this passage, we see the blackness of Judas contrasted with the absolute pure whiteness of Jesus Christ. Jesus and Judas come head to head at this point, the deed which has been festering in the heart of Judas, and which he has begun to perpetrate is now pushed to its climax and Judas is exposed as the betrayer.
Jesus and Judas, the epitomies of opposites. The Perfect One and the absolutely imperfect. The best and the worst. The absolutely perfect and the absolutely wretched. Jesus and Judas. And by contrast here the purity of Jesus, and the vileness of Judas become very, very obvious.
The New Testament writers disdain Judas to such a degree that in every list of the apostles given in the New Testament in the Gospels, Judas is always listed last, with a note of disdain at the end of it. Hatred for Judas was so high that in the years following the closing of the New Testament, many false books were written, many books that we call apocryphal books, they were false books. In other words, they claimed to be inspired books and they were not. And many of them were written and gave terrible pictures of Judas because of the hatred of the early church for Judas. One book said that Judas, having betrayed Christ, was infested with maggots, and the maggots ate his body away and he bloated himself, and on one occasion he was trying to ride on a cart through a wall opening a gate, and he was bloated so large, that he hit the gate, and he was too large for it, and he blew open and all the maggots and everything blew all over the wall. That’s in the Coptic narrative, which is an old apocryphal book. They had such a hatred and such a detesting for Judas that they made up some of the strangest, most bizarre occurrences to characterize the life of Judas after his betrayal.
Well, there’s no question about the fact that the man was an ultimate tragedy. He was probably the greatest tragedy that ever lived, because he is the perfect and prime example of what it means to have opportunity and then lose it. He is the greatest example of lost opportunity the world ever saw. Three years, he moved and walked with Jesus. And ended in absolute disaster. He initially shared the same hope of a kingdom that the other disciples shared. He likely believed that Jesus was the One who was going to bring it off. He, too, after all, had left all and followed Jesus. And it’s obvious that he initially didn’t join the apostles for the money involved because they never really did have anything. Certainly along the line he became greedy, but perhaps his motive on the outset was just to get in on this kingdom that Jesus would bring.
Whatever was his character at the beginning, it was a gradual process that turned him into the treacherous man that he was, a man who had no thought for anybody but himself, a man who finally only wanted to get as much money as he could and get out. Strangely enough, he followed the same Christ as the others, for three years. Just think about that. For three years, day in and day out, he occupied himself with Jesus Christ. He saw the same miracles, he heard the same words, he performed some of the same ministries, he was esteemed in the same way the other disciples were esteemed, yet he did not become what the others became. In fact, he became the very opposite. He was the cleverest hypocrite that we ever read about in the Scriptures. Nobody ever suspected it. And while they were growing into true apostle-saints of God, he was progressively forming into a vile, calculating tool of Satan. And as we come to the thirteenth Chapter of John, Satan literally enters right inside Judas. That’s how prepared he is to do Satan’s bidding. And when you look at the life of Judas, he becomes all the more terrible because of the glorious beginnings which he had. But greed, ambition, worldliness crept into his heart and avarice became his besetting sin. The failure to struggle with his own temptation, the disappointment that he had about every expectation of an earthly kingdom, the untolerable and unbearable rebuke of the presence of Christ. Just imagine that. Walking around all the time with sinless purity, while you were infested with vileness as Judas was. The sense, too, that perhaps the eye of the master was beginning to see who he was, and what he was. All of these things really began to eat away at him. And by the time we come to John 13, he’s ready to do anything.
A few days before this in Bethany, he perpetrated his dirty deed by meeting with the leaders of Israel and bargaining for thirty pieces of silver, something around twenty to twenty-five dollars. The price of a slave was thirty pieces of silver. And Judas has already begun the deed, but now it comes to full fruition on the eve of the crucifixion.
As we arrive at our subject today in verse 18 of chapter 13, Jesus with his disciples is in the upper room, and Judas is there also. That vile traitor is sitting there, hypocrite that he was. And not only is he there, but he’s seated next to Jesus. He was the master hypocrite. He’s already made his bargain to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He’s already carried out the initiation of it, and now he returns to spend these moments with the disciples, looking for the right moment to betray Jesus’ presence to the Jewish leaders. He’s been sitting there all through what has happened. Jesus has washed his feet even. You’d think that the sitting there and experiencing the washing of the feet by Jesus would have been enough to break any man’s heart. But not Judas, so cold was he. He already expressed, Jesus did, in verse 10 and 11 that He knew what was going to happen. If you’ll notice that He says at the end of verse 10, “‘You are clean, but not all of you,’ for he knew who should betray Him, He therefore said, ‘Not all of you are clean'”. He already indicated just in a little inference that some of them weren’t clean, and he was indicating the betrayer at that point. Jesus knew what Judas was about to do. It’s interesting to think that even though He knew what Judas was about to do, He still washed his feet. I believe that’s just another example of the marvelous love of Jesus Christ. And the length He went to win Judas even at this late hour. And so Judas has returned to a seat of prominence with the twelve. He sits there, wretched hypocrite, letting the blessed Lord wash his feet, while in his head he’s plotting the betrayal of Jesus, and can’t wait till he gets his hands on the thirty silver dollars.
Now let’s pick up the scene in verse 17, backing up one verse. Jesus says, “If you know these things, happy or blessed are you if you do them.” Jesus had just taught a very profound lesson to His disciples about humility. He had taught them to express love in washing each other’s feet. And then he said, “If you continue to do as I have done,” in other words, show humility in the most abject kind of service to each other, you’re going to be happy. Happy is the man who learns how to show humble love, who is willing to bow down to the ground and serve another believer. That’s the lesson He’s taught, the lesson of how to express the humility of love. And Jesus says, “Happy are you when you walk in this kind of humility, happy are you when you condescend in that kind of love, happy are you when you’re willing to do that menial duty for the sake of another, happy are you when you don’t care about exalting yourself to the predominance of every situation, happy are you when you humble yourself.” And while He’s thinking of happy, immediately comes into His mind the contrast. He can’t think of happy without thinking of tragedy and unhappiness. He cannot think of what it is to be blessed without thinking about what it is to be cursed. And so, while the breath of happiness is running from His lips, at the same time His mind is beginning to fill with thoughts of the cursed Judas who is sitting right beside Him. And so, He turns in verse 18 from the happy disciple to the cursed one, Judas.And from 18 to 30 the dialogue centers around Judas himself.
Now I want you to see five aspects dealing with the betrayer and the betrayal in this passage. And there’s an outline in your bulletin, if you want to follow it, and add some notes to it. We see here the divine origin of betrayal, the declaration of betrayal, the doubt about the betrayer, the display revealing the betrayer and the deed of betrayal. The divine origin, declaration, doubt, display and deed. And in these five things we will see unfolding for us, the final confrontation between Jesus and Judas, leaving only a kiss later on.
First of all, I want you to notice in verse 18 the divine origin of betrayal. And this is a tremendously profound verse, and I want you to see it, because it would be every easy to pass by this, and miss the point. Now remember, the transition from the blessed disciple in verse 17 to the wretched disciple in verse 18, is leading Jesus to talk about Judas. And He’s doing it by way of contrast.
Now, we realize one thing, a little footnote before we look at verse 18. We realize one thing, that unless Jesus in some way prepares the disciples for what is about to happen, it could affect them very, very seriously. For example, if Judas rises up all of a sudden and betrays Jesus, right out of the blue, the disciples may conclude that Jesus wasn’t all He claimed to be, or He would have known that Judas was like this, and He never would have chosen him. Jesus wants to be sure that they don’t think He is going to be surprised by what Judas does. Because that could be the loss of their faith. And so, to show them that Jesus is no surprise victim, that whatever happens, He knows about it, and it is all in the plan of God, He says what He says in verse 18. And what He says here is that even the betrayal of Judas has a divine origin. It fits into the master plan of God.
Now notice verse 18. “‘1 speak not of you all'”, when He’s talking about being happy, see. He knows there is one cursed one. Then in parentheses He says, “I know whom I have chosen.” Now, why do you think He says that, because, as I said just a moment ago, it would be very easy for the disciples to conclude that Jesus blew it when He chose Judas. And Jesus is saying in parentheses, “I know whom I have chosen. I know everything about every one of you. I know whom I have chosen, but that the Scripture may be fulfilled.” Jesus says therefore in effect to those disciples, “You’re happy if you do what I say, but I speak not of all of you. There’s one cursed one, but I know I chose him, and I chose him specifically to fulfill prophecy.” Now you see, that fits Judas into the divine master plan. Judas’s betrayal was predicted to the detail in the Old Testament. And Jesus wants the disciples to know that so that they don’t think He’s been taken by surprise, and then have doubt about Him.
You see, back in Chapter 2, Jesus had said, “No man needs to tell Me what’s in the heart of a man, I know what’s in the heart of a man.” Jesus claimed to be omniscient, to know everything. And He didn’t want His disciples to doubt that claim. And so He says, “I know I chose Judas. I did it, not by accident, not in ignorance, but in order that Scripture might be fulfilled.” What Scripture? The one that says, “The one who eateth bread with me is the one who lifteth up his heel against Me.” Where is that found? That is found in Psalm 41:9. Some people say Jesus didn’t know. Some commentators feel that Jesus didn’t know Judas would betray Him. That’s not true. Two words in that verse dispel that forever. Jesus says in verse 18, “1 know.” He knew every detail of every disciple. And He knew whom He chose. You say, well, then, if He knew, then why did He choose Judas? Why didn’t He pass Judas by? Why did He choose Him? He chose him-that verse says–in order that Scripture might be fulfilled. He chose Judas because Judas was necessary to bring about His death, which was necessary, to bring about the redemption of the world.
Now, I want you to see in Psalm 41:9, you might turn to it for a minute, then I want to show you another psalm. Psalm 41:9 is the same verse that Jesusquotes. It says this, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” Now that is a description of Judas if ever there was one. “Mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted…” And of course, in Psalm 41, the relationship here is David and Ahithafel.
You remember that David had a bad son. His name was Absalom. And Absalom decided to start a rebellion and to overthrow his father and take over the throne. Now David had a counselor and a friend named Ahithafel. But Ahithafel turned against David, joined Absalom’s rebellion. And here in Psalm 41 David is saying this of Ahithafel. “You mine own familiar friend whom I trusted, you’ve eaten bread with me, close fellowship, you’ve turned and taken your heel against me.” That picture of David and Ahithafel is fulfilled in a greater sense in Jesus and Judas. Jesus, the greater David, Judas, the greater Ahithafel.
Over in Psalm 55, we see another prophecy, clearly a prophecy of Judas and his betrayal. Psalm 55:12. Listen to how this describes Judas. “For it was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have borne it.” Imagine Jesus speaking these words. “Neither was it he that hated me who did magnify himself against me. Then I would have hidden myself from him. But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, my familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together, walked unto the house of God in company.” Now verse 20. “He has put forth his hands against such as are at peace with him; he hath broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart. The words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.” And there’s a picture of Judas.
Over in Zechariah, next to the last book in the Old Testament, and in the eleventh chapter even more detail is given about the betrayal of Christ by Judas. In fact it even gives the exact price. Right as exactly you see it in the New Testament. Zechariah 11:12: “And I said unto them, ‘If ye think good, give me my price.'” And this is Judas talking. Prophetically, this is Judas talking to the Jewish leaders. “‘If you think good, give me my price, and if not forbear.’ So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, ‘Cast it unto the potter, a lordly price that I was prized at of them.’ And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.” And you know what Judas did after the death of Jesus Christ? He took the thirty pieces right back to the house of the Lord, threw them down. The thirty pieces were picked up, Matthew 27 says, they took them out and bought a potter’s field, exactly, to the letter, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 11.
Long before Judas was ever born, his hatred of Jesus Christ was master planned by divine authorship into the activity of the cross. Jesus choosing Judas was no accident. In John 17:12, listen to this, Jesus says to the Father, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name,” talking about his disciples. “Those that thou gavest Me I have kept and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition,” that’s Judas, “that the Scripture might be fulfilled. ” Judas didn’t surprise Jesus one bit. He knew every move Judas ever made. It was predestined in the plan of God from eternity past. It was woven into the prophecy of the Old Testament at least three places as clearly as it could possibly be there. Now may I add quickly this statement: Judas’ part was not apart from Judas’ own will. Even though God master planned it, even though it was of divine origin that Judas would fit into the body of the twelve, and betray Christ. Yet it was not apart from the desire of Judas.
Judas was no robot. The idea that our Lord simply allocated to an unwilling Judas the part of the villain in the crucifixion is inconsistent with Jesus Christ. And it’s inconsistent with the constant rebukes Jesus gives to Judas. All the way along the ministry of Jesus, he rebukes Judas. He endeavors to drive him to repentance, time and time again. And so we conclude that even though Judas’ treachery fit into the plan of God, God did not design him as a treacherous man. That he became by his own choice. God merely designed his treachery into His plan. He didn’t design the treachery.
You see, had Judas been predestined to be what he was, then our Lord would have pitied him rather than rebuked Him. Let me say it this way. God did not plan Judas’ wretchedness, but He planned Judas’ wretchedness into His plan. God didn’t make Judas wretched. He took Judas, wretched as he was, and fitted him into His plan. Somebody had to bring about the death of Christ. This wretched man, by his own desire, evil as it was, was fitted into God’s plan, and to make it happen. Judas Iscariot, then, was the chosen instrument of God, not apart from his own desire or his own will, to betray Christ and bring about His death. And to show that it was not the will of God apart from Judas’ will, all the way along and at every opportunity, Jesus gave him every warning to bring him to repentance and salvation, and at every point he turned it down. And you’ll see it as clearly as you’ll ever see it here in John 13.
Now, of course, the implication of these prophecies that I’ve read to you is the fact that it is a close friend who betrays Christ. All of them have the same idea, and the idea of the heel lifted up, is the idea of brutal violence. It is the brutal kind of violence designated by the lifting of a heel and driving the heel into the neck of the individual. A neck-breaking heel. And that’s the picture of Judas, brutal. Having wounded his enemy, lying on the ground, he takes the giant heel and crushes his neck. Why did Jesus choose Judas, then? He chose him to fulfill prophecy … not only do I think the prophecy specifically about Judas, but the prophecies of His own death. Somebody had to bring it to pass. And Judas was more than willing.
Isn’t it marvelous, again we come to the Old Testament principle that says this: “You meant it for evil, but I meant it for good.” And God again took the wrath of Judas, to praise Him. And through the deed that Judas did, brought salvation.
I think also there are other reasons why Jesus chose Judas. As I analyze the life of Judas, there are so many profound lessons that we learn from Judas. What are they? Number one, we learn that Judas fit in as part of redemptive planning. We learned that God can use anything in His plan. And as I said He takes the wretch to praise Him. Then I think Judas was chosen because he became an impartial witness to Christ. It’s one thing for John the Baptist to witness to Christ and all the apostles and all the people who believed in Him, but do you know one of the greatest witnesses that’s every been given in the history of the world, was given by Judas? Judas, if he could have found one thing wrong with Jesus Christ would have played it up to the skies, wouldn’t he? If Judas could have found one error in Jesus Christ, he would have seized on it and capitalized on it. If Judas could have found one thing wrong at all, he would have blown it all over the place. Do you know what Judas said? His dying words were these, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” That’s one of the greatest testimonies to the truth of Jesus Christ that any man ever gave. And he was an impartial witness. He was biased the other way.
Another lesson I think that Judas teaches us is that he gives us the opportunity to uncover the awfulness of sin. Sin is never as black as it is in the life of Judas. The blackest kind of sin. And to really understand the cross,you have to see a Judas, because then you know what that cross can accomplish in forgiving that kind of sin. Then also I think that Judas and his life of treachery teaches us to supply sinners with a solemn warning. We ought to learn from the example of Judas, my friend. You ought to learnthat you can be very near to God, very near to Jesus Christ, and yet be lost and damned forever. Nobody ever got closer in this world than the twelve. And Judas was one of them. And he’s in hell today. Fifthly, I think the story of Judas teaches another lesson. It teaches us that there will be hypocrites among the brethren. You know something, Judas wasn’t deceived, did you know that? He was a fake, that’s all. He posed as a believer. And he was good at it. He was the best. And mark it, wherever God’s work is done, there are hypocrites. Satan always uses them.
Another lesson that I think we learn from Judas is the fact that the devil is at work among the Lord’s people. Here they are gathered around at the table, the last supper, and moving among them is Satan himself. Be sure of it friends, it’s true. Many lessons from the life of Judas. Wherever God’s work is done Satan will be there. First of all, Jesus says that it was all in God’s plan, that He was not being taken by surprise. And so we see the divine origin of the betrayal. Secondly, we see the declaration of it. Now Jesus speaks specifically about His betrayal in verses 19-21. Verse 19: here Jesus explains what I’ve told you. “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am He.” See, Jesus says, “I’ve told you this, that is, that I know I’m going to be betrayed, that I realized this, and that it all fulfills prophecy, that it has all been master planned. I tell this to you before it happens so that you won’t lose faith in Me, but that you’ll believe that I am He.” Jesus said, “I want you to believe.” Now prior to this time Jesus had maintained secrecy with Judas. It was completely hidden. No one was really ever aware of it. But now He’s going to open the whole thing. And He knows that the first reaction of His disciples if they understand this will be to doubt Him. And so He wants them to know that He’s not being taken by surprise, that He knows exactly what’s going on, that everything Judas did is in fulfillment of absolute prophecy, that God designed it all, that nothing surprises Jesus. Mark it friends, and mark it for good. God is never any man’s victim. Never. And so here, Jesus is concerned with displaying His loving care to these disciples. So that when He’s gone, they won’t doubt, but their faith will be strong. And He knows the treachery of Judas could potentially undermine their faith, and He wants to insure against that possibility. Notice at the end of verse 19, he makes that great statement, “When it has come to pass, ye may believe that I am (He).” And ‘He’ is in italics; it’s not there in the original. “That ye may believe that I am.” ‘I am’ is whose name? God’s name. Jesus says, “I want you to know that I am God.”
It’s an interesting thing, I told you Wednesday night about a debate that we had last, well, really a panel discussion that we had last week. I sat on a panel discussion at Verdugo Hills High School. And in that panel discussion, myself and a rabbi and a Catholic priest and about a thousand students. It was a tremendous opportunity, really exciting. On one occasion, a kid was trying to be smart about whether we knew God or not, and so he said, “How do you know God? What’s His name? You don’t even know His name.”And he said to the rabbi, “Tell us, what’s His name.” And the rabbi stood up and said, “We don’t know God’s name. It’s a magical formula name.” And he went into sort of a magical description. And he was going on and on, “we don’t know it, we can’t say it, we don’t know what it is. It’s a magical name.” And I was just sitting there, itching like crazy, you know. And after about a five minute discussion on not knowing His name, I put my hand up and said, “I know!” And I stood up and said, “His name, according to the Old Testament is ‘I am.’ And the ‘I am’ of the New Testament is God incarnate, Jesus Christ. We know His name. His name is ‘I am.’ And Jesus says, “I don’t want you to think any less of Me because this happens. I don’t want you to think I’ve been taken by surprise. I am. I’m God. And I knew this would happen.” And I personally believe that Jesus was probably talking in a sense of sadness. Particularly looking at Judas. Perhaps he was even trying to melt the heart of Judas, in all this conversation.
So the omniscience of Christ is established. He knows what goes on. Some people think, “Well, sure, He knows what goes on in Christian’s hearts, but does He know what goes on in the rest of people.” Of course He does. Chapter 5, verse 42 of John. Listen to this. He’s talking to the unbelieving Jews. He says, “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I know you, you unbelievers.” He knows the heart of every man, believer or unbeliever. He reads it like an open book. And so Jesus Christ establishes His omniscience. Then notice verse 20.
This seems at first to be disconnected, but I’ll try to connect it for you at best I can. He continues to declare this betrayal by saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He whom receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me. And He that receiveth Me receiveth Him who sent Me.” You say, “What’s that doing in there?” And, initially, it doesn’t seem to fit. It seems like it’s pulled out of some other chapter or something. But it fits. Oh, it fits beautifully. We don’t know what went on in the gap between verses nineteen and twenty. But you could imagine that when the disciples would have known about the betrayal, they would have all said, “Oh, man! That’s the end of the whole show. I mean, one lousy disciple blew the whole deal. Jesus goes to the cross. The whole thing’s going to fall apart.” And so, what Jesus is saying here is this: “No matter what happens, men, that doesn’t lower your commission. No matter what happens, betrayal or no betrayal, hypocrite or not, now matter what happens, it doesn’t lower your commission one whit. Not at all.” The Lord has been teaching them to humble themselves in the manner He illustrated by washing their feet. The Lord has been teaching them that they are to preach the Gospel. And when they see the apostasy of the betrayer, they may begin to think, “Well, maybe our commission is over with. Maybe our work has ceased. Maybe it’s all done now.” And so Christ is saying, “Not so. Nothing changes. You are still my representatives. Though there’s a traitor among you, that doesn’t lower your high calling. That doesn’t reduce your commission. The treachery of Judas must never lower your estimate of Apostolic responsibility.”
It would be natural for them to think, “Boy, we got a lousy traitor in here. We’re probably not as hot stuff as we thought we were.” And Jesus keeps them up there where they belong. It’s a tremendous lesson. He’s saying, “When you go out there, and you preach. If they receive you they are receiving Me literally. And if they receive Me, they’re receiving the Father who sent Me.” Jesus says, “Your commission is that high, friends. You represent God in the world. You represent Me in the world. And anybody who receives you, receives Me and my Father.” See how He’s elevating them. It would be so easy to hit bottom in a deal like this, right? To just fall apart at the seams when your Christ is crucified, and Judas turns out to be a rotten hypocrite, and the whole world seems to be collapsing, and Jesus elevates their calling so they keep their eyes on where they belong. It’s a tremendous lesson. Tremendous lesson. And it’s something that we need to be aware of. No matter what Satanic opposition we run into, no matter how frustrating the work becomes, that in no way lowers our commission.
I talked to a guy the other day in the Lord’s service,and he was beginning to say,”I don’t know if I ought to try to do this because there’s so much opposition, so much trouble.” And I said, “Anything you going to do for God is going to have opposition. If every missionary looked at a missionary field and said, “Oh, they might not believe me over there,” we’d never have anything done. Just because it’s going to be difficult and just because there’s going to be opposition doesn’t lower your calling one whit.Nor your commission. These disciples were still Christ’s ambassadors in the world. And this verse says that “When I send you brother, you represent Me and God in thisworld.” And that’s as high as you can get. But did you notice that the verse has a general content, way beyond the disciples. It uses the word ‘whomsoever.’ “Whomsoever I send.” You know that that refers to you and me, ambassadors of Jesus Christ in every age? When you move out into this world, Christian friend, you represent Jesus Christ. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:20, Now then, we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ, and we beg you in Christ’s stead. Be reconciled to God.” Do you know that when we go out and ask men to come to Jesus Christ, we are doing it in the place of Jesus Christ? We’re his ambassadors, his representatives. When a man rejects your witness, he rejects Jesus and he rejects God. You as a Christian absolutely represent Christ. In Galatians 4:14, the apostle Paul says this, “You received me as an angel of God even as Christ Jesus.” And that’s the way everybody ought to receive a believer. When you walk into a situation, my friend, you are their in the place of Jesus Christ. That’s how high your calling is. And whoever in this world receives you, receives Christ and God Himself. And whoever refuses you rejects Christ and rejects God. That’s how strategically important you are.
You get a little view of who you really are? People always say, “Oh! There’s so many hypocrites in the church.” Hear that? I hear that every week. “Well, we don’t go, because we went when I was nine and we saw a hypocrite. Haven’t been back in forty-two years.” My friend, I know there are hypocrites. There are hypocrites sitting right in this building right now. They’re everywhere. And one hypocrite is one too many. But that does not lower the high calling of every true child of God. And that’s going to be a pretty pathetic excuse when you rattle it off to God in the Day of Judgment. Every true Christian is a Christ-image in the world. And you know and I know that where there are true Christians, Satan is going to sow tares, he’s going to have his hypocrites, and they’re here in Grace Church, like they are everywhere. You say, do you know who they are? No, not necessarily. But that’s not for me to know.God knows. I wish I knew, but I don’t. Whoever they are, they know. You are a Christ-image in this world. Hypocrites, or no hypocrites, that doesn’t lower your calling. Keep yourself elevated where you belong. Don’t lower yourself one whit. You have a high calling. It’s difficult to tell who the hypocrites are. It’s next to impossible. Jesus is the only one who can tell who they are.
Then, in verse 21, Jesus gets even more distinct in declaring the betrayal. “When Jesus had thus said,” reminding them of their high calling, beautiful, beautiful statement, verse 20. Tremendous, to just lift those guys up like that. Just lifts me up, too. When you go out to speak, just imagine, you represent Jesus Christ. Boy that ought to give you some boldness. “When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified saying, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, one of you shall betray Me.'”Just imagine the shock that must have rattled through that group. “One of you.” He was troubled, it says. What troubled Him?
You could probably list twenty-five things that troubled Him. Here’s a few: He was troubled because of the unrequited love of Judas; He was troubled because of the ingratitude in Judas’ heart; He was troubled because He had a deep hatred of sin and it was sitting right next to Him, sin incarnate; He was troubled because He was shrinking about from contact with the one about to betray Him; He was troubled because He knew of the eternal destiny in Hell; He was troubled because He could see with His omnipotent eye Satan moving around Judas; he was troubled because He had a knowledge of the sin of the betrayer and the terrors of his eternal punishment; He was troubled because He sensed all that sin and death meant; He was troubled because He had an inner awareness that Judas was a classic illustration of the wretchedness of sin, sin which He would have to bear in His own body on the next day, sin for which He would be made responsible, and would die for. He was troubled. He was in deep sorrow.
You remember at the tomb of Lazarus, as He thought about sin and death, He groaned in His inner man. He’s in deep sorrow later in the garden of Gethsemane as He even sweats drops of blood, his whole system breaking down in the agony. And here He is, troubled, deeply, over sin and death and all that Judas is about to do. And in His trouble, he bursts out and says, “One of you is going to betray Me.” And the statement is a shocking statement. Their hearts must have raced. Their pulses must have been frantic. “One of you at this table, one of you whose feet I washed, one of you who have had the honor of being my first ambassadors, one of you will betray Me. One of you will use your intimacy of Me to guide the enemy, to take Me and kill Me.” “Mine own familiar friend,” the psalmist said, “has lifted up his heel against me.” “One of you.”
And so, we see the divine origin and the declaration, and then the doubt. The disciples don’t know who He is talking about. And in verses 22-25 they express that. They’re shocked. Who is this? Matthew says they all said, “Is it I? Is it I?” And Judas even said, “Is it I?” Hypocrite. That’s how it is; the hypocrites are around, aren’t they? I told you that only Jesus knows who they are.
In Matthew 13, when Jesus gave the parables of this age, He described this age in an interesting way. And I want you to listen to this. Matthew 13:24: “Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the household came and said unto him, ‘Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in the field? From where then hath it tares?'” What’s the false doing among the true? “He said unto them, “An enemy hath done this.” See, wherever God sows His good seed, Satan sows his tares, doesn’t he. If there is truth in the church, there are hypocrites, people playing a game. “The servant said to him, ‘Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?’ But he said to them, ‘Nay. Lest while you gather up the tares, you root up the wheat with them.'” In other words, you can’t tell the difference at this point of growth. You have to wait till it’s dry and ready to harvest, then the difference becomes obvious. “‘Let both grow together until the time of the harvest, and at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, ‘Gather together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘ There’s coming a day, friends, when Jesus is going to decide who is the true and who is the hypocrite. I can’t tell. I wish I could. If I could, I’d go to every hypocrite individually and warn him of his hypocrisy. And invite him to leave this fellowship unless he was legitimate. But I can’t do that, because I can’t read people’s hearts. There are some telltale signs. But someday Jesus is going to know who’s true and who’s false. And divide accordingly.
So the disciples didn’t know. And Judas was good at it. And so, in verse 22, we read this: “Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting on whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved.” And that would be John, the disciple who always called himself the one Jesus loved. Not that that’s the only one Jesus loved, but just that it was a thrill to John to know Jesus loved him. “Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him that he should ask who it should be of whom He spoke.” Simon Peter says, “John, John, ask him. Who is it?” See. So in verse 25, John obeys Peter. “He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto Him, ‘Lord, who is it?'” Now this brings out the loveliness of Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that the disciples were so perplexed. You know what that proves to me? That shows to me that Jesus had shown love to Judas for three years. Don’t you know that they would have detected if Jesus, you know, Jesus could have been very bitter about Judas, right? All the way along, just resenting him, resenting him, resenting him. And it would have come out, in the way he talked to him. But, evidently, for three years He’d been gentle, loving, and kind to Judas in exactly the same fashion that the other eleven had experienced it, so that they didn’t see any difference at all. In fact, Judas even was treasurer of the group. They trusted him. And so, evidently, that’s the loveliness of Jesus, he had been constantly kind to Judas, privately rebuking him from time to time. But publicly showing him love. And hard-hearted Judas had just played his game, all the way along. He had the behavior of a saint, and the heart of a sinner.
Hypocrisy is sickening, isn’t it? Well, then we see a tremendous contrast as John is kind of lying there on Jesus’ bosom or Jesus’ breast, it says in verse 23 and 24. This is a tremendous contrast when you have in one hand the hatred of Judas and this kind of love of John, now don’t you.
Now the Jews, when they went to dinner, they had a U-shaped table. And they didn’t sit down on chairs, they reclined on couches. And generally speaking, the table was a low solid block with the couches around it, and the host would sit at the top of the U, or the bottom of the U, whichever way you want to look at it. Right at the top of the curve there. And on each side of him would be guests of honor and all the way around the table. Normally they would lay on their left side, resting on their left elbow, using their right hand to eat. Sitting in that way, all lying around like that, the one who was on the right of Jesus would be literally with his head right at about the chest of Christ, or a little bit off of that. From a distance back, it would appear that he was leaning on the bosom of Christ. When he would turn to speak with Him, he would turn and Christ would be right here. And so, John, sitting on Jesus right, would have his head right near Jesus’ heart. And that’s what it means when it says he was leaning on His bosom. And so there he was, and of course you know that John always loved Jesus and loved to be where He was, and so there he is, right up against Him. And Peter, over here, says, “John, ask him.” So John leans up and whispers, “Who is it, Lord?” See, the disciples were mystified. They didn’t know.
Then, point number four, Jesus gives the display that reveals the betrayer, and we Ill see this very quickly. And I believe that this was reserved for Peter and John. I believe they’re the only ones who caught the message here, because later on it says that the other disciples didn’t know what was going on. But Peter and John saw what happened. Verse 26, “Jesus answered.” Here’s how He’s going to point it out. “‘He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.’ And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.” Now Jesus answers their question with an appeal of love to Judas. The answer and the appeal are in the same display.
Now, you say, what is sop? Sop would be a piece of unleavened bread, broken from some of the unleavened cakes that would be on the table having broken it off, there would be on the table in very many places a dish. And there was a dish called cheshireth, and it was filled with bitter herbs, vinegar, salt, mashed fruit consisting of dates and figs and raisins and water, and it was made kind of like a dip. And they would put the unleavened bread in there, and absorb some of that dip, and then they would eat it. And now it was always a mark of honor for the host to dip a sop and give it to the guest of honor. And Jesus, lovingly, kindly, in a gesture of love toward Judas, dips the sop, and gives it to Judas on His left, as if Judas was the guest of honor. I personally would not be surprised to find out some time in eternity that Jesus even asked Judas to sit beside Him, hoping that somehow He could communicate love, and break that impenitent heart. And so, Jesus did everything He could to show His love to Judas. He even gave him the token which signified him as the guest of honor. And incidentally, the one who sat on the left was number one guest. And Judas had that seat. You would think that this would have broken Judas’ heart, wouldn’t you? All of this on top of washing feet and everything else, but it didn’t. You see, Judas was an apostate.By this time Judas was hard, and all the sweet love of Jesus couldn’t recall that one whose salvation was now impossible. He was a Hebrews 6 case. He was impossible.
You notice that-he gives his full name there. That’s so all posterity will remember the name. Judas, from the town of Carioth, son of Simon, the betrayer. Then, hell arrived, verse 27. “After the sop, Satan entered into him.” There’s an eternity in that verse. That little statement is one of the most shattering statements you’ll read in your life. “Then Satan entered into him.” Judas had been duped by Satan; he’d been flirting with Satan. Satan had already put it in his heart to betray Christ, as we saw last time. And now, Satan takes over his entire inside. Satan moves right in! And enters him. And in that moment, the evil will of Judas overcame the last and most powerful offer of Jesus Christ’ love, the evil will of Judas overcame the attraction of mercy; the sin against the Holy Spirit was finalized. In that moment, Judas was damned to hell, the day of salvation closed, the hour of mercy, expired. Satan entered Judas and it was over, his doom was sealed. He spurned the love of Christ for the last time and his eternity was sealed. And the saying of the Savior, “One of you is a devil” was verified. And friends, Jesus is through with Judas. He has crossed the line of grace. “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” as happened to him.
Now notice, having crossed that line, Jesus is done with it. And all He wants to do now is get rid of him. Because he’s corrupting the hour with the disciples. And so in verse 27, he says this, “Then said Jesus unto him, ‘What thou doest do quickly.'” Just that fast in a moment of time he passed the point of grace and Christ dismissed him. And He dismissed him to hell. What do you learn from this? You learn that Satan enters men to carry out the greatest efforts of hell. But you know what else you learn? Did you see that? Satan and Jesus were giving Judas the same commands, did you know that? Satan said, “Betray Him.” Christ said, “Betray him, Judas.” Satan said, “Get Him on a cross.” Christ said, “Get Me to the cross.” Do you know where Satan and Christ broke? In resurrection. But from the time of the betrayal to the cross, they were given the same orders.And Jesus shattered the plan when He exploded out of the grave.
Verse 28 tells us that the disciples didn’t know. “Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spoke this unto him. For some of them thought that because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said this unto him, ‘Buy those things that we have need of for the feast.”‘ Some of them thought he was going shopping. “Or that he should give something to the poor,” or he’s going to go out and dispense some charity at the Passover season. So we see the divine origin, the declaration, the doubt, and the display that points to the betrayer.
Lastly, in one verse, and we’re done. The deed of betrayal. Are you ready for this in verse 30? “He then, having received the sop, went immediately out and it was night.” A solitary figure, leaving the room, to enter into the eternity of hell. ‘The Bible doesn’t say where he went, but evidently he went to finalize his deal with the Sanhedrin. And when he went out, it was night. And friends, it was more than physical night, it was eternal night, it was night in the soul of Judas. And I’ll tell you something else. It is always night when a man goes out of the presence of Jesus Christ.
You say, “What does this say to me, all this?” It says, be sure that you make the most of your opportunities. Be sure you’re not a hypocrite. Be sure than you’re warned, my friend, that the greatest spiritual privileges might be neutralized by illicit passion. And a life which is lived in the face of the unclouded sun may set in a night of despair. There are Judases in every age, and there are Judases today. There are people who are selling out Jesus Christ, did you know that? There are men who have eaten at His table, and lifted their heel against Him. But the tragedy of it is, their end is death and disaster. And these words are still true, and true of more than one Judas: “Still as of old, by himself is priced, for thirty pieces Judas sold himself, not Christ.”
Our Father, we thank you this morning that you again have given us a vision of the true and the false. God, we despise the hypocrisy of Judas. Yet we thank you for your omnipotence, which can work such hypocrisy into a plan of salvation for us. And we thank you that your blood is sufficient enough to atone for every sin, even for the sin of a Judas, had he been willing. Father we pray this morning, that no one will leave this place who has not settled in their heart, the issue of salvation, lest they go out of this place in night forever, lest they go beyond the call of your grace. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.