We are all sitting down with Jesus and His disciples in the upper room. Jesus had previously washed all His disciples’ feet and now they were enjoying their meal. It was a relaxing time until Jesus brought up another difficult topic. Someone was going to betray Him.
First the argument over who was greatest. Then Jesus washing their feet as an example. Now He says someone is going to betray Him. This dinner is full of unexpected events!
John tells us that “Jesus was troubled in His spirit” when He revealed to His disciples that there was a traitor in their midst. I’m sure we all know how it feels to hold onto a secret that is heavy upon your mind. I have wrestled with WAY too many and usually end up spilling the beans. Jesus was at that point now. His heart ached for what He knew was coming. I wonder if His heart was aching for Judas too. He knew what would become of him. Did He long for Judas to ask for forgiveness instead? Prophecy had already told of Judas’ fate, but I believe Jesus still cared for him.
When Jesus made His statement about someone betraying Him everyone was afraid to challenge Him. John tells us that Peter asked him to ask Jesus who it would be. Peter, James and John were often singled out by Jesus for special time together. Peter often got in trouble during these times by putting his foot in his mouth. Maybe that was why he asked John to ask. John was quieter and gentler that Peter and surely this called for finesse.
John leans back against Jesus in a nonchalant manner and simply asks Him. “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus responded by saying, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it” (verse 26). I would expect all eyes to fasten on that piece of bread and follow it to its intended recipient. But that’s not what happened. Jesus gave the bread to Judas but none of the other disciples were any the wiser to who the betrayer would be. Matthew tells us that each of the disciples asked Jesus if it would he him. Jesus never did say, “It’s Judas.”
None of the other disciples recognized who it was that Jesus was pointing to. But Judas did. I can practically hear his breath stopping as Jesus hands him the piece of bread. I feel his cheeks burn in anger as Jesus says to him “What you are going to do, do quickly” (verse 27). I see him glance back over his shoulder as he leaves the room to see if any of the other disciples have figured it out.
“How did He know? Is He going to out me? He thinks He’s so smart. Let’s see what He thinks of Himself after they arrest Him. A few nights in jail will do Him some good. Maybe it will bring Him down a peg or two.”
Satan helped Judas stay strong in his decision. Satan didn’t make Judas betray Jesus, but he egged him on. He probably put the thought in his mind in the first place. But Judas chose to take hold of that thought and plant it in his heart. Once in his heart he nurtured that seed of discontentment until it was ready to harvest. It was a full grown tree by the time Judas left the room that day. There was no turning back now. He was all in.
We know from prophecy that there had to be a betrayer in God’s plan. We also know that Judas chose that role. God didn’t assign it to an unwilling participant. God simply stated what was to come because He is not bound by time and space. He saw it happen long before it actually happened in our finite time line.
So many “if only’s” for Judas. How many “if only’s” do I have? Probably too many to count, but the biggest difference in mine and Judas’ “if only’s” is the final one he made. If only he had come to Jesus and repented instead of hanging himself. That last “if only” sealed his fate forever. It also made him a household word. His name is now synonymous with betrayer.
Father God, I have failed Jesus in so many ways. Not exactly like Judas but maybe just as hurtful. Thank You that I can still come to You and ask for Your forgiveness. Thank You Jesus for the care and compassion You showed Judas, even at the end. You didn’t point him out directly to the other disciples. You didn’t berate him or even refuse him the gift of washing his feet. You treated even Your betrayer with love. Thank You that You shower me with that same kind of love today, even when I fail. Help me rise again every time and come back to You. That was Judas’ final condemnation. He judged himself unworthy of the forgiveness that Jesus had been sharing for the last 3 12 years. He didn’t believe it applied to him. Honestly, I am angry with him for what he did to Jesus but my heart also hurts for him. To be so close to Jesus and miss the single most important point He was sharing; His life for ours. I wonder if the other disciples felt that way later on. If only…