Reading Time: 7 Minutes
John 13.21-30 – After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples — the one whom Jesus loved — was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him.
Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”
28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
What about Judas?
I was tempted to skip the verses that are part of today’s article. I like good news stories and this one is a “horrible” news story. Both Judas and Peter reveal a part of humankind that is one I would like to ignore.
Think about all of the opportunities that were squandered by Judas. He traveled with Jesus for three years. He witnessed numerous miracles. He was taught by the wisest teacher one could ever hope for. At the dinner party, Jesus reached out to him by giving him the place of honor at the table. I personally think this was Jesus’ last ditch offer to help Judas make the right decision.
As soon as Judas ate his portion of the first Lord’s Supper that had ever been observed, Satan entered him. Imagine that! In the midst of what should have been the highest moment of worship and devotion, he was open to the activity of Satan.
When I read a story like this, I ask myself how I could be like the “bad guys” in the story. Could I ever betray Jesus?
There is a lengthy passage in 1 Corinthians that warns people to not turn their back on Jesus, as did Judas. Below is a summary of what Paul wrote in Corinthians. (See 1 Corinthians 10.1-22 for the whole picture.)
1 Corinthians 10.1-4 – The people had remarkable spiritual experiences with God.
1 Corinthians 10.5 – However, God was not pleased with their behavior.
1 Corinthians 10.6-11 – These people are examples for us, so that we will not worship substitutes for God (idols), indulge in sexual immorality, test God’s patience, and be complainers.
1 Corinthians 10.12-13 – We are to watch out and make sure that temptation does not overtake us.
All of the activity listed in verses 6-11 can cause us to drift in the direction of Judas. Let’s take Paul’s direction to heart, “So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall” (1 Corinthians 10.12).
What about Satan?
There are two extremes when it comes to thoughts about Satan.
(1) In some circles, it is not fashionable to believe in Satan or demons. In his writings, C. S. Lewis points out that it is a clever trick of Satan to get people to deny his existence. What enemy wouldn’t want his opponent to act as if he didn’t exist.
(2) The other extreme position is to give Satan too much power. To give Satan powers, such as being all-powerful, everywhere-present, and all-knowing is to give him the same power as God. Satan is not another god, who is competing with God for the victory. He is a created being, who does have enormous power, but nothing to compare to that of God.
I think what James teaches is most helpful, as we strive to not be like Judas. One very godly old warrior for Jesus gave me this piece of advice, concerning spiritual warfare. He said, “Abiding in Christ is 99% of the battle.” If you read James 4.4-9, I think you will see that James places the same emphasis on our battle with the evil one.
John 13.36-38 – Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus answered, “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? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”
One of the worst stories of my entire ministry was a time when I was filling holes in a driveway and shoveling gravel from the back of a truck with a co-worker. The man was about twenty years older than me and was a fairly intimidating person. God’s Spirit made it very clear that he wanted me to speak to this man about his salvation.
The story I am telling is nearly fifty years old, but I remember my resistance to the Spirit like it was yesterday. In my mind I said to the Holy Spirit, “It’s not time.” The Spirit continued to press me and I continued to resist.
What I didn’t know was that this would be the last time I would see this man alive. He caught a rare disease and the next time I saw him was at his funeral. I can’t express how bad I felt, while I sat on the back row of a funeral home, knowing that God wanted me to tell my friend about Jesus.
Sandwiched between these two difficult passages is a command by Jesus that we love just as Jesus loves. I look forward to that subject tomorrow.
For today, let’s take our spiritual inventory again. Let’s look deep within and see if our behavior could resemble that described by Paul in 1 Corinthians.
If there is someone who needs to know the story of how you came to experience Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and you have delayed in telling them, now is a great time to do so.
Dear Jesus, please forgive us of the ways that we have betrayed your love and denied your activity to others. Please fill us with your love, so we can best live with you and the people around us.