18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,[e] 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus[f] of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “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. (John 13:18-30)
There was once a time in western society where it was the common belief to recognize the depravity of the human heart. Even among those who were not orthodox Christians, such as deists, there was yet a common acceptance that the heart of man was fallen and prone to wickedness without proper restraint. It is with such a belief in view that the constructs of our government and society were built. But we have long since fallen into apostasy from such a once held common belief. Our society has been secularized by the humanists who would deny the depravity of the human heart, and thus elevate man and his desires and will to be the determinative factor for how we ought to behave. It is quite common to hear cliches such as “follow your heart,” “listen to your heart.” Even evangelicalism hasn’t been untainted by such a sentiment as you will often hear pastors who just want to “share what God laid on their heart” instead of what God has laid on the pages of scripture. Not only that, but many congregants there are who want a preacher who will just “share his heart” and “be authentic.” I pray that such words will never be uttered here and where the desire for it may spring up I pray that it would be corrected by the Word of God. For such sentiments do not come from the word of God, but it is purely secular thinking.
If the humanists disguised as Christians in our society today were honest, I am sure they would want to hear Judas’ heart. After all, poor Judas never gets a fair shake. He never gets to speak for himself with his own gospel account. Maybe he had a very good leading in his heart that he should do what he did. After all, all that matters, is that he follow his heart, right? We didn’t read it today, but verse two in John chapter thirteen tells us that the devil himself put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus. When you hear some of the vile blasphemies and gross heresies spouted out from the mouths of modern secular humanists who call themselves Christians today, it becomes evident that the devil has not stopped putting it into people’s hearts to betray Jesus Christ. Yet we have somehow convinced ourselves that “listening to our heart” is a wise means to come to the truth.
The human heart is depraved enough to reject such a loving Savior without the aid of the devil’s influence, yet it is drawn out for us by the gospel writer to show us that the betrayal of Jesus was a satanically inspired treachery. Not only are we told in verse 2 that the devil put betrayal of Christ in Judas’ heart, but verse 27 tells us that Satan entered Judas.
The Spiritual Realm Around Us
Imagine this scene: the disciples have just had this incredible moment of teaching by Jesus. He washes their feet, and teaches them the meaning of it, and they are now around the table, reclining there together enjoying a meal together. Jesus had mentioned that He did not speak of all the disciples, and the disciples don’t seem to pick up on it, and verse 21 tells us that Jesus is troubled in His spirit. And as He is troubled in His spirit He reiterates to His disciples that one of them will betray Him. The disciples seem to be largely uncertain and clueless as to what is going on. And momentarily Satan will enter into Judas unbeknownst to the disciples there.
This is an interesting scene in Scripture because on the one hand its very earthy, and human, and normal with the disciples eating a meal together, and at the same time on the other hand there is a great spiritual battle going on. Jesus’ spirit is troubled. His spirit is troubled over the reality that Judas, one of His own disciples was about to be overcome by Satan and betray Him. This of course did not take Jesus by surprised, this was not a battle that Jesus had lost, after all we just read where He said that He was not speaking of all of them and the betrayal is to be the fulfilment of Scripture. Yet the troubled Spirit of Jesus shows us how much compassion and love flowed out of Christ even for those such as Judas who He had not chosen. Jesus presumably even just washed Judas’ feet knowing what the Devil had put into his heart. The weight of what is happening is heavy on the spirit of Jesus, yet most of the disciples’ hearts are light. Satan has entered Judas and most of the disciples think he is going to give alms to the poor or something.
I believe this shows us what the nature of common spiritual warfare is. It is happening all around us all the time, and we do not realize it. We are unaware. I am not saying our lack of awareness is a bad thing, or a good thing, I am just saying that is the reality of the world we live in. There things going on around us that oftentimes we cannot see, and we cannot sense. Sometimes we do feel that trouble in our spirits. Other times we may have no clue what is happening. I am sure that some of us here, if not most all of us, have had times in our lives where we have been protected or ministered to by angels in some way and have not even known it, and still don’t. Hebrews 13:2 tells us to not neglect showing hospitality to strangers, for in so doing some have entertained angels unawares.
I believe that one of the reasons we are largely so unaware of our interaction with angels is so that we do not fall into the sin and idolatry of worshiping them. Yet, when we are rightly aware of them, we are reminded of our small and sinful humanity in light of the transcendent, and the God who sends angels as His ministers.
Yet I believe there is a simple goodness to the disciples being so unaware of what was happening around them. They were simply enjoying the physical presence of their Master and their brethren around a table of good food and drink. It is a good Christian way to live life to simply concern ourselves with the duties and delights right in front of us, that God puts down for us to do. They were at a dinner table with their teacher and brethren, that is where God gave them to be faithful. There was no obligation or expectation or duty put upon them to observe the spiritual battle going on around them. Likewise as Christians we are not to go around trying to fell the room with our spiritual sensors to see what is going on around us in the spiritual world, rather we are to concern ourselves with each duty and delight that God puts in front of us to do, while knowing there is always more than meets the eye in this world in which we live.
Reprobation, Satanic Influence, Personal Responsibility
Shall we consider now Satan’s influence on Judas? What of it? How could Judas be responsible for his traitorous acts if the devil put it into his heart and entered into him? Was Judas but a robot for Satan? Certainly not. Let us note that Jesus, who knew what was happening in His Spirit, did not rebuke or cast out Satan. He dealt directly with Judas. He “cast” Judas out, by telling him what he had to do, go and do quickly. It was Judas whom Jesus dealt with. While we uphold the responsibility of Judas, we yet recognize here that there is a real element of demonic or satanic control that can be exerted upon a person. Yet we must recognize that treason was not put into the heart of someone who was not already treacherous. Satan did not enter somewhere he was not already wanted. Judas was not an innocent, honest, disciple doing his best to follow Jesus in spirit. His heart and life had long been one of betrayal. Satan did not enter one who was cleansed and trusting in Jesus. Judas did not have his salvation ripped from him. He was never Christ’s. He was not among those elected and given to be Christ’s. He was a traitor from the beginning.
We need to remember James 4:7 in our lives, which says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So when the devil enters into someone it is clearly someone who has not submitted themselves to God. It is someone who has not resisted the devil. By faith in Christ we have nothing to fear. Judas had heard all of Christ’s sermons, yet he was not submitted to Christ and His teaching. Judas had seen every miracle and demon cast out, yet he did not resist the evil one. Judas has no one to blame, but himself. And neither do we, if we were to betray Christ just the same.
At the Table, verse 22-26
So as we step back and look at the scene unfolding around the table, Jesus has just said that there is one there who will betray him. The disciples are confused, looking around, wondering who it could be. Then verse 23 tells that the disciple whom Jesus loved was reclining beside Jesus at the table. This disciple whom Jesus loved is very likely John, the gospel writer himself. And of course in those days they would recline around the table. So Peter then motions to this disciple next to Jesus to try and have him ask Jesus who it is. So the disciple leaned back against Jesus to ask him, and Jesus tells him it is the one to whom he will give the morsel of bread after he dips it. This disciple was very close to Jesus when he leaned back to ask Jesus who it is, so this exchange was likely a very quiet one that was not heard by the other disciples. We see this pretty clearly when Jesus gives the dipped bread to Judas, none of the other disciples have any clue that that was the sign of the traitor.
After giving the dipped bread to Judas, Satan enters him, and Jesus tells him to go and do what he is going to do quickly, so he does. I like what D. A. Carson says here, “Sold out to Satan though he was, Judas had no recourse but to obey the word of Jesus.” Even service to Satan does not give us autonomy from God. That is what every unbeliever wants – autonomy from God. But it is an impossibility. We cannot achieve autonomy from God or from Christ, for Christ is the very one who holds us together and keeps us alive and going, and all He has to do is stop, and we are no more. So the gospel writer shows us the sovereign control God has even in the betrayal of Christ. As this happens, the other disciples are completely unaware. They think Judas is going to get supplies or to give something to the poor, since he was the treasurer.
Judas Deceived the Disciples
In this we see how great was Judas’ deception of his fellow disciples. He was one of the last disciples they would have expected to betray Jesus. He was the trustworthy treasurer of the group. Certainly it couldn’t have been Judas! He was so concerned with the ministry to the poor, what piety! This is not at all the fault of the other disciples for not discerning the treacherous heart of Judas, it is to show how thoroughly man can be deceived by other men, for Judas gave no outward signs in his life that his heart despised Jesus. There was nothing about his life that gave the other disciples reason to believe he could be the traitor.
Throughout Judas’ life with the disciples he partook of all the benefits of Christ. He partook of Jesus feeding thousands out of 5 loaves and 2 fish. He was there when they were on the boat and Jesus calmed the storm and saved their lives. He was there to have his feet washed by Jesus. Think of the incredible forbearance and love of Jesus to wash the traitor’s feet. And imagine being of the select few who had their feet washed by Jesus, and yet to despise and betray him. Judas, even to the end, received the dipped bread from Christ as he was sent out to betray him. Judas betrayed Christ, but Jesus never betrayed Judas. Judas was happy to partake of all of Christ’s benefits that could be obtained by an unbeliever, and yet He would not partake of Christ. He despised Him. Thus we see that without faith, the foot washing, the meals, and everything else was entirely ineffectual unto life.
Let us consider the truth of this for ourselves. There are many persons, maybe even some of you here today, who are happy to partake of all the outward benefits of Christ that can be obtained by unbeliever, yet you refuse to take part in Christ by faith for yourself. There are many who have lived in Christian societies that are upheld by Christian morality and they have been happy to enjoy those benefits. There are many who love to attend to religious services, or do works of ministry and service to the poor and that brings them some benefit. There are many who are even so disguised as Christians that they have partook in baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Yet, because they do not partake of those things by faith it is nothing more than water and nothing more than bread and wine that gives them no true benefit, but only brings judgment upon them. Because you see, the substance of the ordinances and of Christian religion is Christ and partaking of Him by faith. Yet that is the part that we cannot see in others.
You see, you can do very well to deceive your fellow man. You can give them no reason with your life for them to doubt that you are one of the brethren, and yet, it could be the darkest night upon your soul. Verse 30 tells us that Judas went out, and it was night. I believe that is more than just a narrative descriptor, but an ominous spiritual statement about the condition of Judas. Judas was swallowed up by the most awful darkness. It was the dead of night upon his soul. He had sold his soul and betrayed his teacher.
I believe the notation that it was night, is also an indicator that the time of Jesus’ betrayal, suffering, and death, is nigh upon the reader.
Oh my friends, what a dangerous condition it is to be swallowed up in the darkness of a lost and traitorous soul, and yet your friends think you are one of the best of them. What a dangerous thing it is for someone to be a deceiver in this way, for when you put on all pretensions of light and righteousness, none will think to come after you and attempt to minister to you and rescue you in your lost estate. Surely had the disciples known they would have pleaded with him to not do such a thing. I can see Peter physically grabbing him and shaking the life into him or weeping at his feet begging him not to do this thing. But the skillfully lived double life of Judas prevented any such graces to be given to him. It was an utter darkness of the soul.
Judas did not deceive Christ
But let us note here my friends that though Judas had thoroughly deceived his brethren, he did not deceive Christ. You see, you can deceive your unbelieving friends, you can deceive your church family, you can deceive your own household, you can deceive your own spouse, you can even deceive yourself. But you can never deceive Christ. As the gospel writer has said much earlier, “Jesus knows what is in the heart of man. There is much we can hide from the eye of man, but there is nothing we can hide from the eye of Christ. The discerning Christian is able to spot a pastor who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing but false doctrines that taught. But it could even be a pastor who gave no sign of being a wolf by teaching no apparent false doctrine, and yet he could be a traitor to Christ in his heart. It could even be a deacon who serves his church faithfully for years, maybe served Christ for none of those years. Sadly we are seeing this unfold in evangelicalism in America. Many people who once seemed to be such faithful Christians, that maybe even taught us so much, have now apostatized to preaching another gospel – many who have gone fully woke – have shown themselves to be traitors of Christ. And many swaths of people going with them into the night. Many of these people are likely to be self deceived.
My friends, you cannot deceive Christ. When we stand before him one day and are judged, all will be laid bare before him. Everything hidden will be revealed. There will be nowhere to hide and nowhere to hide anything. And what a miserable way to live your life. Burdened with the guilt and difficulties of a double life. Friends, don’t do that. Just come out into the light. Come to Jesus Christ. Lay it all before Him. Give Him your treacherous heart; He will give you a new one. Surrender to Christ what He already sees and knows. It will be much better to come into the light now and expose yourself and surrender it all, than to have it all revealed on the last day. Jesus Christ stands ready to receive you to today. He knows your treachery and wants you to take it to Him and lay it down before Him. There have been many a traitor who have laid down there arms before it was too late, only to find that there more than enough forgiveness, more than enough mercy, and more than enough grace for them in Jesus Christ. My friends, there is enough for you as well. When the mercy and forgiveness of Christ is poured out upon a sinner who comes to Him, it does not subtract anything from the storehouses of mercy laid up for you. Thought the grace of God in Christ is richly and lavishly poured out on needy sinners every day, God never has less grace than what He began with. You are not too far gone until you are dead. No matter how traitorous and treacherous your heart is, or how much blood is on your hands, it is not more powerful than the atoning blood of Jesus.
I want to close by giving you two things that this teaching is not meant to do, and then encourage you.
First, none of this talk of betrayal is meant to make us doubt one another. If you, having heard what I have said today, have begun to look around at others here in the pews, that is the wrong effect it should have on you. Doubting and suspecting our brothers and sisters of wrong-doing without proper evidences, is sin. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love rejoices in the truth. And that love believes all things and hopes all things. Love does not go around doubting others’ salvation and suspecting others of sin. If we do that, we are the ones sinning. This does not mean that we don’t use proper judgment, but we must recognize that proper judgment is not going around suspecting and assuming others of being traitors and apostates. So, this is not meant to cause us to doubt one another.
Secondly, this is also not meant to make believers doubt their own salvation. There is certainly a time and a place for proper self examination, and some of that is certainly here. But this is not meant to make believers doubt their own salvation. It certainly should cause the self-deceived unbeliever to doubt their salvation, as they should. But for the believer, it should not. What it should do is spur us on to hold ever more closely to Christ. The thought of one of Jesus’ own disciples who heard all of his sermons and witness innumerable miracles betraying our Lord is a sobering thought that should drive us cling evermore closely to Christ, entreating Him to hold us evermore tightly and to keep us from all such apostasy. For as Jude says, He is “able to keep you from stumbling and present you blameless before the presence of glory with great joy.”
So if you are a Christian, I do not want you to doubt your salvation, I want you to cling ever more tightly to Christ, and resolve to be ever more near to Him, not trusting in your own works, but trusting His to be enough for you.
When we partake of the gospel, we are dining together as Christians with Christ, partaking of His great gospel feast. Just as the disciples dined around the table with Christ, the exhortation for those of us who have come to the gospel feast is: don’t leave the table. Stay at the table with Christ. Don’t leave the table. Don’t leave His Church. Don’t leave the means of grace. Don’t leave your brothers and sisters around the table. Don’t stop eating of the food of the gospel.
Jesus revealed these things about a traitor to encourage his disciples (v. 19)
It seems like the opposite, but it was actually for the encouragement of the disciples’ faith that Jesus tells them that He knows there is one who will betray Him. This is so they know it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, and that they may believe in Christ. It could be very devastating for the disciples to see one of their own betray Christ unto death, but if they knew that Jesus told them it must happen to fulfill the Scriptures, then it would actually be of great encouragement when they see it happen, and thus not despair. They had to know that this betrayal did not take Jesus by surprise. He did not fail in His discipleship. Even in betrayal, Jesus did not fail. Jesus doesn’t lose His own. All that are His He will not lose. They are His given to Him by the Father, paid for in His blood. They cannot be lost.
This can be of great encouragement for us to remember. When we see those who once ate with us at the table of Christ and then walk away and betray him, we don’t need to be shaken, as sad as it is. It did not take Jesus by surprise. He did not fail to complete His work in them.
It is also encouraging for us to know that when someone we have tried to disciple abandons us, it does not necessarily mean that we have failed, so long as we have been faithful.
I hope I am wrong, but it seems as if we are entering into a time of great apostasy in the American church. In many ways it has already begun. It seems there will be a great deal of Judas’ revealed. So let us prepare ourselves by staying at the table with Christ, eating from His hand, and resting assured that when we see traitors in the church, God has not failed, and not in the slightest. They are yet serving His purposes. Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension was not a loss for Christ, it was His victory, and the assurance that He will have what is His. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead and ascend to the right hand of God, we would have every reason to doubt and to fear. But Jesus did rise from the dead and ascend to the right hand of God. Therefore we have every reason to be hopeful, confident, and assured, that His will is done on earth as in Heaven, and Christ will have what is His, world without end, amen.
Leave a Reply