Jesus= Enemy. Jesus= Friend.
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 13:18 (Holman) AI=m not speaking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: The one who eats My bread has raised his heel against Me.@
When Jesus spoke of betrayal, the words pierced John=s tender heart like a dagger. Decades later he could recall them with exacting accuracy.
Judas= treachery deeply hurt John the Beloved. He mentioned it often. He who totally loved Jesus did not understand how anyone could be cruel to Him.
Jesus told His followers a friend (Aone who eats My bread@) was raising his heel against Jesus. The metaphor is derived from a horse lifting its hoof to kick. A supposed friend of Jesus was about to do brute violence to Him.
The leaders had long sought to arrest Jesus, but the crowd=s admiration for Him had thwarted them. They needed an accomplice, but never would have dreamed of asking one of the Twelve. Who would? To their astonishment, one of the disciples voluntarily offered his services without any solicitation.
Judas= deed, unprovoked and demonic, was sheer treachery, the kind of cruelty history never forgets. At Thermopylae, 300 Spartans withstood a huge Persian army. History records few names of the fighters, but has remembered Ephialtes, a Greek who accepted Persian gold as a bribe to lead them to a secret mountain pass. His name still cannot be mentioned without horror by Greeks.
The palace at Venice has a long line of portraits of the city=s rulers. One space has no portrait; a black curtain hangs there instead. It is the space allotted to Marino Falieri, a leader who was found guilty of treason and beheaded. Every effort has been made, as far as possible, to blot his image from remembrance. Those who tour the palace spend more time looking at the one dark vacancy than at any of the rulers= portraits. There is a captivating pathos in glory forfeited.
While Pastor of a church in Arkansas, my Grandpa Marshall befriended one of his church members. Grandpa placed his absolute and complete trust in him, and confided in him often. He proved deceitful, and began to share things told him in confidence. Finally, in a surprise move, he publicly undermined Grandpa and successfully instigated a vote to remove him as Pastor.
This betrayal broke my Grandpa. He stayed out of the ministry seven years. During this time he began reading the atheist Ingersoll and completely dropped out of church. Betrayal can be an ache worse than death.
John 13:19-20 I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I assure you: The one who receives whomever I send receives Me, and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.@
The betrayal could have easily shocked the Twelve into unbelief. Had Jesus not forewarned them, they might have lost faith thinking Judas had duped Jesus all along. Judas had not fooled Jesus. The Master had known from the first.
Judas probably felt assured of secrecy, but his precautions were in vain. The traitor must have been shocked when his plan was exposed by the Person he planned to betray. We can deceive people, but can hide nothing from Jesus.
Jesus also encouraged the disciples by saying He would be sending forth representatives. This was not the talk of a person who planned never to return.
John 13:21a When Jesus had said this, He was troubled in His spirit . . .
An earthquake shook within Him. Our joy-giver sorrowed; our comforter was troubled; our deliverer was distressed. Something touched His very soul.
What force could ever create a tremor in God=s Son? It almost seems an impossible feat. What could trouble the Eternal One? Two possibilities.
One, intense holiness distressed at sin=s presence. When holiness increases, sensitivity to sin also grows.
In Jesus, holiness was so strong that the presence of Satan=s agent troubled Him. Judas= evil heart sent a quiver through the nerves of Christ=s pure soul.
Two, distress caused by the approaching ruin of a sinner. His friend and close acquaintance would soon enter the land of the perishing. The cross was made even more bitter by having to watch an apostle become an apostate.
John 13:21b-22 . . .and testified, AI assure you: One of you will betray Me!@ The disciples started looking at one another B uncertain which one He was speaking about.
In the span of a few minutes, Jesus had mentioned twice something was awry among the disciples (vv. 10, 18). Now Jesus stated the exact crime. The news exploded among them like a bomb.
They looked at one another, trying to discern who the traitor might be. Surely such a blunt announcement would cause a guilty heart to manifest itself.
Maybe they expected to see a blush or a sudden change in someone=s countenance. Surely someone=s eyes would stare at the floor in shame.
The faithful were so clean that their faces showed no shame, the traitor=s conscience was so seared that he felt no shame. He neither blushed, nor made any other sign of remorse. Judas= conscience was dead and buried.
It is noteworthy that none of the Eleven suspected Judas. They never displayed even the slightest suspicion regarding him. Judas must have been the embodiment of hypocrisy. His evil heart evidently had a holy face.
Most painters portray Judas as disfigured, with a low cunning look, a mean scowl, a lurid leer. These depictions are inaccurate. He was as innocent looking as the others. His countenance displayed sincerity and sanctity.
What an actor, a hypocrite! He looked like a saint, but had the heart of a devil. Judas was a suave villain, but could not deceive Jesus.
John 13:23 One of His disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining close beside Jesus.
Thank God for the contrast! Let=s take our eyes off Judas and turn them toward John the Beloved. Leaning on Jesus= bosom was the disciple Jesus loved. Jesus loved all the disciples, but felt a particular kinship to John.
This whole episode must have been excruciating for John. If anyone had asked, ADo you know the Lord will soon be taken away from you?@ We can almost sense his response AYes, I know, don=t mention it again.@ Too well John knew it. This made him lean ever more closely to the Master.
It is interesting to speculate why Jesus felt so close to John, who had neither the talent of Paul, the drive of Peter, nor the eloquence of Apollo. Evidently it was not any superior ability in John that attracted Jesus, but rather qualities of the heart. John grew from a Ason of thunder@ into a warm tender heart.
Love made John one of the inner three, and then the inmost one of the three. Love made John follow Jesus to the Judgment Hall, forced him to stay at the cross when the others left, and compelled him to care for Jesus= mother.
Love hastened John=s race to the tomb, and made him the first to believe the women=s news about Jesus. Love made him quick-sighted, the first to recognize Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Love made John close the book of Revelation with the prayer, AEven so, come, Lord Jesus@ (Revelation 22:20).
AThe disciple Jesus loved@ was John=s most notable title. John never mentioned himself by name in this Gospel. When referring to himself here, John used this title to show how much it pleased him.
Love is wonderful. Lord Brooks was so proud of his friendship with Sir Philip Sidney that he chose for his epitaph, AHere lies Sir Philip Sidney=s friend.@
One of my cousins, in a research paper on my Grandpa Edward Marshall, referred to me as AEdward=s beloved grandson.@ In that context, no title could make me prouder. Above all else, strive to please Jesus, to be His beloved friend in a most intimate way.