John 13:21 ‘One of you shall betray me.’
This Week’s Focus Passage:
John 13:21 ‘One of you shall betray me.’
We may read, in Psalm 41:7-9, the following, rather astounding words of deception and betrayal, in this predictive Davidic psalm, when the Holy Spirit says; All that hate me whisper together against me;
Against me do they devise my hurt.
An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him;
and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted,
Who did eat of my bread, Hath lifted up his heel against me.
Jesus pronounced the fulfillment of the prophecy contained in the 41st psalm, when he declared it unto those seated at the table with Him, as He said in John 13:18-20;
I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled,
He that eateth my bread lifted up his heel against me.
From henceforth I tell you before it come to pass, that,
when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send
receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Keep in mind that Jesus had, immediately prior to this announcement, washed the feet of His disciples. We deliberately point out that He washed the feet of all twelve of His disciples. In the periscope surrounding our focus text, we may be granted a greater picture in our minds of the event. At a Paschal meal, symbolizing the slaying of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, Jesus declares that one of those having partaken of the foot-washing, as well as the meal, one of you, He testified, shall betray me. We are then further advised that these disciples looked on one another, doubting [wondering] of whom He spake. This event is of such a singular nature that it is very hazardous to attempt any sort of analogy to help us understand -somewhat better the feelings of these twelve disciples. We are not attempting any sort of analogy of our Christ; He is the only Lamb of God; the symbols of His body and blood are before His disciples as they are before us when we partake of the Lord’s Table in a communion service.
But try to imagine, in an admittedly weak analogy, at a men’s meeting with twelve of the ‘men of the church’ seated around a table, with the pastor; that is to say, the under-shepherd of the church at the head of the table. After a round of prayer, a solemn plea unto God to have His way and His will in this meeting, for His glory, this pastor stands before these men and solemnly declares, ‘one among you is going to betray me.’ Perhaps, in our analogy, it is a season of political unrest, political turbulence, and general chaos around the nation. Authorities are searching for any who may be found unwilling to go along with unrighteous political schemes. In such a searching, religious leaders are particularly suspect. In the midst of this ‘Orwellian drama,’ this pastor rises up to tell the men of the church that one from among their number would betray him to the authorities. Imagine the consternation of unbelief as they look around among themselves. Each one among them has been with the church for a number of years, faithful in every circumstance. How could it possibly be any of them; they are in such a state as to inquire of their own hearts; could it be me; is it I, Lord?
Surely, as we have allowed, this ‘picture’ does not meet the extremity of the situation with the disciples, with the Lord of Glory standing before them. The God of all Truth telling them that one of themselves would betray Him. This was no pastor of a small church in our day, or even the ‘minister’ of a large ‘Mega-Church’ in the community. This Man; this God-Man, speaking these words, was the God who cannot lie, and He has prefaced His remarks with a Verily, verily [Truly, truly], veritas, veritas, Amen, and Amen, coming from the lips of Him who is Himself, The Way, and the Truth, and the Life. These twelve men had each been walking with the Lord Jesus Christ for about three years. They were eye-witnesses of miraculous healings, amazing other miracles—Christ feeding thousands of individuals gathered to hear His message of salvation; at least several thousand—specifically, in one case, five thousand men; in another four thousand men; the numbers in each case allowing for potential amendment, when it is added, besides woman and children. Bottom line, there were a great many fed from a few fishes and a few loaves. Back to the point, these disciples [the twelve] were eye-witnesses to the reality that this Person before them for three years, had marvelous testimony before them that this was the Christ, the Son of David, the Son of God.
It is additionally interesting to consider the manner in which it pleased Jesus to reveal [or not reveal] just which one of them would betray him. We are informed that Peter asked John, who was leaning on the breast of the Savior, to ask the Lord which one of them would do this terrible thing. Upon Simon Peter’s having beckoned unto him to ask Jesus, John leaning back, as he was, on Jesus’ breast saith unto Him,
Lord, who is it? Jesus therefore answereth, He it is, for whom I shall dip the sop, and give it him. So when he had dipped the sop, he taketh and giveth it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. And after the sop, then entered Satan into him. Jesus therefore saith unto him, What thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
Even at this point, no one appears to have known who the betrayer was. Tis a mystery that not one of these twelve was suspected by the others. The primary suspect in the minds of each of them seems to be themselves. Matthew and Mark each record, for us, that immediately following Jesus’ initial announcement, Matt. 26:22; Mk. 14:19,
And they were exceeding sorrowful,
and began to say unto him every one, Is it I, Lord?
If these disciples, if these men who had been so long with Christ, did not know who the person was of whom Jesus spoke, how greatly that should humble His people today, to not venture to pretend that any among ourselves can read another person’s heart, or mind. May this account before us bring us to such humility. Let us count each among us better than ourselves, and ask ourselves first; Is it I, Lord?
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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