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Teaching

Glory in the Midst of Betrayal (John 13:21-38)

John 13:21-38 (ESV)

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, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus 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. 

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. 

  • Betrayal of Christ (John 13:21-30)

    • Christ troubled in spirit at the betrayal (21)

      • Christ has just predicted the betrayal of one of His disciples in vv 18-20.

      • He does so to encourage the disciples with the certain knowledge that Christ’s very betrayal is according to the plan of God.

      • Yet, we must remember that Christ’s confidence in the things He knows about Scripture does not relieve Him of grief and sorrow.

      • Verse 21 states that Jesus was very troubled in His spirit…

      • He’s grieved to His core with the knowledge that one of His own is going to betray Him.

    • The disciples are understandably concered, which one of them is the betrayer? (22)

      • It should be noted that nobody at this point knows who will betray Jesus.

      • That is, except Judas, but I want you to understand the blindness of hypocrisy.

      • You need to understand the way in which sin can permit Judas to pretend, like the others, that he is able to act as if he has not already struck a deal with the authorities.

    • The disciple whom Jesus loved (23)

      • John records that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was reclining at Jesus’ side.

      • This information is given to explain John’s proximity to Jesus and how events unfold.

      • John is referring to Himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”

      • Many interpret this as John sort of underlining a special relationship that Jesus had with John.

      • They argue, perhaps, that John was young and Jesus had a particular fondness for John.

      • It’s not that Jesus didn’t love others but the manner of Jesus’ affinity or friendship with John perhaps set John apart so that the others just sort of knew that Jesus and John were particularly close knit.

      • I suppose that’s possible but is it also possible that John is actually just being humble here?

      • As the author, instead of proudly placing himself by name in the story he wrote about himself simply as one, like all disciples, as the disciple whom Jesus loved.

      • Given the impending death of Christ, John must be overwhelmed by the sense of Jesus love for him, a follower, a disciple.

      • Might we also think of ourselves and say of ourselves we are a disciple whom Jesus loves. 

    • Who is the betrayer?  (24-26)

      • Jesus and the apostles were all laying on their left sides with their feet away from the table (not like in Da Vinci’s painting).

      • John would have been leaning on Jesus

      • Peter asks John to let him know who the betrayer is.

      • John leans back into Jesus and asks Jesus which would be easy to do in a quiet manner.

      • Jesus tells John that is the one to whom Jesus will hand a morsel of bread.

      • There’s something that happens next that we need to meditate upon.

      • Judas, up to this point, has been a thief.

      • None of the disciples knew this.

      • Judas was the treasurer and was, by all appearances, a trusted individual.

      • Yet, just days before Judas had witnessed Mary anoint Christ with perfume worth a small fortune.

      • His heart had been hardened by theft and, further, by hearing Christ’s Words for years.

      • The Word had not penetrated but had only hardened the stony soil of his heart compacting it and adding to his stubborn refusal to hear the Good News.

      • Being close to Jerusalem at this point, Judas had seized an opportunity to enrich himself and be in the graces of the Jewish leaders by offering Jesus up at an opportune time.

      • Judas didn’t mistakenly fall into betrayal but his heart had been prepared for it.

      • The Scriptures had foretold it, this Jesus knew, but the heart and desires of Judas were his own.

      • As Jesus handed Judas the morsel of bread it was the last straw of deceit.

      • The hardened heart of Judas accepted a morsel meant for one friend to receive from another but Judas’ heart was intent on betrayal.

    • Satan enters Judas (27)

      • Verse 27 records that Satan entered Judas’ heart at that point.

      • Whatever restraint of evil that God had permitted at this point was withdrawn.

      • Satan did what he desired to do and found in Judas a willing and easily manipulated accomplice.

      • But Jesus was not a hapless victim.

      • He did not stumble into betrayal.

      • He went into it with eyes wide open.

      • Those eyes were filled with tears I imagine but Jesus commanded Judas to do quickly what he had planned to do all along.

      • The time was at hand for the Savior to suffer.

      • This He had come into the world to do and He sent the betrayer out to set the final acts into motion.

    • Judas departs and disciples assume he’s giving to the poor (28-30) and it was night.

      • Even as Judas left the disciples still didn’t understand.

      • They only later found that Judas was a betrayer.

      • They thought Judas was going to give an offering to the poor.

      • Verse 30 concludes that “…it was night.”

      • Indeed, the Son of God had come to bring light into the world but Judas loved the darkness and his heart had remained in darkness.

      • The light came into the world but the darkness did not comprehend it.

  • The Son of Man glorified in suffering (John 13:31-32)

    31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

    • Does this seem at all out of place in terms of what is going on?

    • Christ is having a meal among disciples that don’t understand what His true purpose is.

    • One of the twelve has just left to betray Him.

    • Within hours all will flee and He will suffer utter reproach and humiliation.

    • Yet, the path for the Son of Man’s glory is through perfect obedience.

    • Hebrews states that Jesus was made perfect by the things He suffered.

    • That is to say that Jesus, a real man, is making real decisions of obedience.

    • He is in the dark night of the soul withstanding the worst kind of temptation and man could ever undergo.

    • It is an incredible act of obedience that Christ is not only steeling Himself against any idea of disobedience to the work set before Him but He knows that it is in this work of sacrifice that the glory of the Son is being laid out.

    • The glory, the love of the willing Victim.

    • He loves His Father so much that He agrees with the Father to be a victim for the people He has come to save.

    • He loves His own so much that His heart goes out to them.

    • He knows, as well, that in spite of the fact that He can’t see events that are about to unfold (He is a true man) He knows that the Father will vindicate Him in His death and glorify Him again.

    • Right now, as He experiences ever increasing humiliation, the glory of the Son is on full display.

  • Love One Another (John 13:33-35)

    33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    • Line from the Book of Eli:  “Do more for others than you do for yourself…that’s what I got out of it.”

    • One of the saddest things about many who call themselves Christian is that they miss the supernatural character of Christ’s work.

    • We’ve seen it on display throughout the Gospel of John.

    • Nicodemus cannot see the Kingdom because He has not been born again.

    • The people do not believe in John 6 because they have not been given by the Father to the Son.

    • So many Christians want to jump to “love one another” without considering what this truly represents.

    • How is this a new command?

    • Lev 19 commands the love of neighbor.

    • Christ Himself states that the whole of the commandments is comprehended in loving God with all your heart soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself.

    • How is this a new commandment that we love one another?

    • Because, beloved, our very problem is that we lack the ability to love one another.

    • This is why Christ came.

    • He came because we were enslaved to sin and death.

    • It’s not that the commandment to love our neighbor is not a requirement for all men, women, and children.

    • It’s that we are born in sin and lack the capacity to do what the Law commands.

    • The Gospel has to begin with a supernatural act that is going to free Christ’s own from the dungeon of spiritual death.

    • Christ is about to go where His disciples cannot go.

    • Christ is about to go to the place they deserve.

    • Christ is about to suffer the shame, reproach, and wrath of sin.

    • They don’t understand it now but Christ is about to break the stronghold of sin by becoming sin and putting its power to death on the Cross.

    • The commandment to “love one another” is new because it comes with new power.

    • It comes under the freedom of the New Covenant that Christ is about to procure for His people.

    • We don’t come to God directly but we come in the power of the Son and the accomplished work and power of the Cross.

    • Only then are we truly free to love one another.

    • Only then are we freed to obey and love the things of God with renewed hearts and minds that are united to the living Savior’s.

  • Will you lay down your life for me? (John 13:36-38)

    36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

    • Do you see what I’m talking about?

    • Do you see how Peter himself is missing the point?

    • Other Gospels record that every single disciple is spiritually obtuse here.

    • Christ has just made clear that there is something He alone can do and they cannot follow him.

    • But Peter, brave in comfort.

    • Peter, confident in the power of his own unaided mind and flesh.

    • Peter states bravely that Christ will not go alone.

    • Peter is willing to die for Christ.

    • Do you see the cosmic irony of Christ’s question:  Peter, will you die for me?

    • Do you see the world looking at Christ as He announces the necessity of His death for sin but those who see no need for a Savior announce their own power and bravery.

    • Who, exactly, is going to die for whom?

    • Is it not necessary, is it not crucial that Jesus must die for Peter?

    • In fact, Jesus, notes, Peter is going to deny that he even knows Christ before the evening is out.

    • Such is the power of the flesh.

    • Such is the power of man.

    • Such is the need for Christ.

  • What about you, Christian?

    • I’ve witnessed elders proclaim their fealty to Christ turn their backs on their wife and children.

    • I’ve witnessed others who everyone would say:  that man or woman is sold out for Jesus – and these same people renounce the vows they make before the Lord.

    • Whenever we read these passages we need to ask ourselves in what ways we are just like those that came before us.

    • In what ways might we be hard to the things of the Word like Judas.

    • Week in and week out the Gospel of Jesus Christ bids us come.

    • Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

    • Yet we prefer the things of the world and the Word falls like rain on parched ground and hardens it.

    • Perhaps we’re like Peter, sure of our fealty of Christ.

    • We sin or stumble but we’ve chalked up the Christian life to “…I’ll do better next time.”

    • We see in Christ not a Savior but someone we need to live up to and prove that we’re serious about.

    • We face temptation and give in to it and then tell Jesus that we’ll do better next time.

    • We reckon we are not like other men and will follow Him whatever His demand.

    • Yet, the Son of God is reminding us:  will you die for me?

    • Today is the day of salvation.

    • A crucified and risen Savior demands your belief.

    • The announcement comes out as Good News:  Christ has died for sinners.

    • Are you a sinner?

    • Do you need a Savior?

    • Christ has risen again because we need power against sin.

    • Do you believe in Christ?

    • Then reach out.

    • Lay hold of a risen Savior Who empowers you.

    • You need to admit powerlessness in your own self so that you can reach out for the power of the risen Savior.

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