“Our skin is soft, like tightly woven fabric. It appears porous from the outside—with millions of tiny openings that ooze sweat. But you might be surprised to learn how effective a barrier our skin can be.
For decades medicine makers have tried to develop drugs that can be administered through the skin. Doctors call them ‘transdermal’ drugs—like some pain-relieving sprays and nicotine and hormone patches. Pharmaceutical companies are racing to perfect a way to make drugs that can be accepted this way—and painlessly.
But for all the work, they have only been able to find a handful of compounds that go through our skin. However, if our skin is prepared—temporarily altered—medicines can permeate it. Scientists have developed ointments that make the skin able to transmit drugs. They've used very low electrical currents to propel drugs through the skin. They've even invented little patches about the size of a band-aid with tiny microneedles that pierce the top layers of the skin enough to get drugs in but not deep enough to be felt by our nerves.
All of this to try to overcome the barrier of our skin.
Spiritually we're the same. Our hearts have barriers. We can be immersed in God's grace, but at times none of it permeates into our hearts. Judas spent over three years up-close with Jesus himself, but in the end He handed Jesus over to be murdered for 30 pieces of silver. A child can be raised by godly parents, hearing Bible stories and earnest prayers at home, faithfully attending church every Sunday, but then grow up to be a prodigal who never returns.
Sometimes the problem isn't the environment. Sometimes the problem is that we are impenetrable to the gospel. Just as the skin must be treated to transmit medication to the body, so our souls require the special work of God's grace before we can receive the life and healing that he wants to bring.”
John B. Carpenter
Scared of needles
Growing up I didn’t like going to the doctor, especially if a shot was involved
I didn’t like needles, so I was scared every time I had to go to doctor
I’ve grown to tolerate needles and it doesn’t bother me to have to get a shot anymore
I’ve always admired the fact that my father has faithfully given blood throughout his life
I don’t know how many galloons he has given
At one point in my life, I desperately wanted to start giving blood on a consistent basis, because of my father’s example, but I never did
In times past, when I did donate blood, I would always get light headed afterwards
The last time I gave blood, which was many years ago, I had hyped myself up and was determined to be so mentally strong that I wouldn’t get light headed
It seemed to work until the nurse told me to put my arm up over my head – I got light headed
My fear of needles has been greater than my desire to imitate my father
There is no way I can fake being a blood donor
I could pick up T-shirts at the thrift store that say how many pints or galloons of blood I’ve donated
I could join social media groups for individuals who are blood donors
I could champion the American Red Cross and the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank and post images on my social media accounts
I could volunteer with those organizations
But none of that would make me a blood donor
From the outside looking in, you would perhaps assume that I was a blood donor – and I may let you believe that
Fake it ‘til you make it
This idea is prevalent with multilevel marketing companies
Those companies operate on the idea of gathering family and friends underneath you as partners in business
The way that you “make it” is by having a large network of people in your pipeline underneath you
At the beginning, when you don’t have a large network underneath you, it’s important that those you are recruiting believe that there is an incredible potential to make a lot of money
So, you introduce them to people in the company who are making lots of money, so they will catch the vision and join you as a partner in business
If everything goes well, you eventually advance to the point where you are making a significant amount of residual income (you get a percentage of the sales from everyone in your pipeline)
As we’ll see today, the disciples didn’t have any idea who Jesus was talking about when He told them that one of the Twelve was going to betray Him. They were at a loss. None of them suspected that Judas was the one. Judas had ministered together with them for three years. He had healed and cast out demons, just like they had. He had shared with others about Jesus. John wants us to understand, from this passage, that . . .
BIG IDEA – You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.
GOD (John 13:18-30)
Betrayal predicted (vv. 18-20)
Pastor Marc did an excellent job last week of walking us through Jesus washing His disciple’s feet
The first statement that Jesus makes in this section of Scripture requires us to look back at what was said in verse 17
Jesus ends his time of washing the disciple’s feet by saying, Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them
Jesus is talking about his example of washing their feet and His teaching about how they should wash each other’s feet
Jesus knew that not every one of them was going to be blessed, because He knew that one of them was going to betray Him
This one individual was not going to wash the other disciples’ feet – he wasn’t going to do what Jesus had just modeled for them and taught them about
In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew we learn that Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus and trying to return the 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3-10)
Jesus says that He knows those He has chosen
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)
We know that Jesus willingly gave up some of His supernatural abilities when He became human
We also know that God, at specific times, would allow Jesus to access those same abilities for God’s glory and to accomplish His purposes
At this point, God has given Jesus the ability to know the hearts of His disciples
Some believe that Jesus’ statement here contradicts what He said in Capernaum
John 6:70-71, Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
“But it is simply another way of saying the same thing: the disciples are ‘chosen’ corporately as ‘the Twelve,’ but not all are individually chosen. Jesus is simply repeating in different words what he said a few verses earlier, ‘and you men are clean, but not all of you’ (v. 10).” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 739]
While God’s sovereignty is evident in the fact that Judas would betray Jesus in order to fulfill scripture, I don’t believe that Judas agreed to be one of Jesus’ disciples with the sole purpose and premeditation of betraying Him
I believe, he genuinely followed Jesus at the beginning, but Jesus also knew the kind of man that Judas was and what would tempt him to betray someone
Burge highlights Brown’s translation of verse 18, “What I say does not refer to all of you: I know the kind of men I chose. But the purpose is to have the scripture fulfilled . . .” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 371]
Jesus uses Psalm 41:9 as the scripture that is being fulfilled
This Psalm was David’s lament about being abandoned and deserted
“Rabbinic interpretation took Ps. 41:9 to refer to Ahithophel’s conspiracy with Absalom against David.” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 411]
2 Samuel 15:12, 31 record the fact that Ahithophel had joined Absalom’s conspiracy and rebellion
Ahithophel had been a close friend and counselor for David – he had shared hundreds, if not thousands, of meals with David
There are two important cultural aspects of the Psalm, that Jesus quotes, that we need to discuss
The sharing of bread
In the Near East and the Semitic settings of the Old and New Testaments, the sharing of bread or a meal was considered a symbol of personal intimacy and loyalty to a superior
It was not something that was taken lightly
Judas had shared hundreds of meals with Jesus over the three years they were together
To betray someone whom you had shared a meal with was considered “a gross breach of the tradition of hospitality.” [Bernard cited by Köstenberger, 411]
The lifting of the heel against another person
From a cultural perspective, in the Near East, showing the bottom of the foot to someone is considered a symbol of contempt and a breach of honor
Borchert shares, “Having taught in both the Middle East and the Orient, I learned quickly to keep my feet on the floor and not show the bottom of my feet. Such a practice is a change of style for anyone from the West who identifies relaxation with the putting up of one’s feet.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 89]
The lifting up of the heel could also suggest the kick of a mule, which gives us a wonderful word picture of what it would look and feel like to be betrayed by someone who is close to us – who has shared a meal with us
All of this sets the stage for what Jesus says next
Jesus is telling them before it happens
He’s telling them that Psalm 41:9 is going to be fulfilled in their presence
The reason He’s telling them ahead of time is so they will believe that I am He
The original Greek does not have the word “He,” so Jesus is saying that He is telling them ahead of time so they will believe that He is the I AM
This is so significant, because God used this same identification for Himself when talking with Moses in the wilderness
If you recall, Moses wanted a name to give the Israelite leaders in Egypt when He went back to bring them out of Egypt
The name that God gives Moses is, I AM WHO I AM
God told Moses to tell them that I AM had sent him to them (Exodus 3:14)
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is divine, He is God!
This naturally leads into His next truth statement
Chain of acceptance
Jesus had already sent the disciples out two-by-two
He would eventually commission them to spread the good news about Him to every nation (Matthew 28:19-20)
Jesus is basically saying that if anyone accepts His disciples, whom He has sent out to share the good news, then they automatically accept Him
If they automatically accept Jesus, then they automatically accept the One who sent Jesus from heaven to earth – God, the Father!
“A modern parable: A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art: everything from Picasso to Raphael. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, ‘Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart. He died instantly. He often talked about you and your love for art.’
The young man held out the package and said, ‘I know this isn't much. I'm not a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’ The father opened the package and gazed at a portrait of his son. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured his son in the painting. The father hung the portrait over his mantle. When visitors came to his home, he always drew attention to the portrait of his son before he showed them any other great works.
When the father died, his paintings were to be auctioned. Many influential people gathered, excited about the opportunity to purchase them. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel and asked for someone to start the bidding. The crowd scoffed and demanded the Van Goghs and the Rembrandts. But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Who will start the bidding? $200? $100?’ The crowd again insisted on seeing the famous paintings. Still the auctioneer solicited, ‘The son! The son! Who'll take the son?’
Finally a voice said, ‘I'll give $10 for the painting.’ The longtime gardener of the father was poor and couldn't afford anything more. While the auctioneer continued to pursue a higher bid, the crowd became angry. The auctioneer pounded the gavel and sold the painting for $10 to the gardener.
An eager buyer from the second row bellowed, ‘Finally, on with the auction.’ But the auctioneer explained, ‘I'm sorry, the auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything.’
Source unknown; submitted by Leslie Bauer, Barrington, Illinois
The same is true for us, as it pertains to accepting the good news of Jesus Christ from one of His disciples
If we accept the testimony of the transformed life of our family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker, then we are accepting Jesus and God also
If we accept the testimony about Jesus, God’s Son, we get everything!
What is everything?
It is the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life with God
Quote John 3:16
God loves us so much that He already had a plan in place to deal with our rebellion against Him, which He calls sin
Every one of us has sinned, no one is exempt – we’re born sinners
God is also just and has to punish sin, but He sent Jesus to die on a cross to take our punishment for sin, so we can have eternal life – that’s everything!
My Next Step Today Is To: Believe in Jesus and accept His perfect sacrifice on the cross, so I can have eternal life.
I encourage you to follow that chain of acceptance today
Jesus is predicting His betrayal, because it is just about to happen
Betrayal begins (vv. 21-30)
Jesus is troubled in His spirit
The statement, “After he had said this” marks the conclusion of the previous discourse and the beginning of a new one
This is the third time, in the Gospel of John, that we see Jesus experiencing deep anguish
The same Greek word was used two other times concerning Jesus
John 11:33, when He saw Mary weeping at the death of her brother Lazarus
John 12:27, when Jesus was explaining to His disciples why He must die
Jesus is probably troubled in His spirit, because He knows those He has chosen – He knows what Judas is about to do
While it fulfills Scripture, it doesn’t make it any easier on Jesus – He is fully God and fully man
Jesus didn’t want His disciples to miss the fulfillment of Psalm 41:9, so He tells them directly that one of them is going to betray Him
The disciples are confused by the news and try to get an answer
None of them had any idea whom Jesus was referring to
We don’t see it in the Gospel of John, but Matthew and Mark record what I think is an incredibly powerful principle for us to embrace
PRINCIPLE #3 – Self-evaluation is important and profitable.
Each of the disciples were saddened and immediately ask Jesus if it was them (Matthew 26:22; Mark 14:19)
They didn’t point the finger, because they had no idea who Jesus could be talking about
When we’re confronted with something like this do we immediately take time to ask ourselves if we are the one who has betrayed Jesus or someone else
Or, do we immediately begin to think about someone else in our group and say to ourselves, “I bet they’re the one.”
I have to admit that I don’t always do self-evaluation first, and have found myself questioning, in my mind, those in the group trying to determine who needs to pay attention to what is being said
More often than not, I do self-evaluation to make sure that I’m not at fault
I remember a situation where a memo was sent out to the entire organization I worked for, about the speed limit entering the grounds. I had no idea who was speeding and who wasn’t, but I immediately begun to question whether or not I had been speeding when entering the grounds. I was very mindful about my speed from that point on
My Next Step Today Is To: Spend time evaluating myself, first this week, as situations come up.
PRINCIPLE #4 – Anyone can look like a disciple, but God knows our heart.
Judas did a pretty good job of hiding the sin that was overtaking him
His love of money was more powerful than his love for Jesus and the lost
He had been taking money from the money box that the disciples kept (John 12:6)
He accepted 30 pieces of silver as payment for betraying Jesus
1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Judas had been with Jesus for three years
He saw Jesus do the miraculous
He heard Jesus teach about many things
He probably performed miracles and cast out demons, himself
He probably prayed and taught others about Jesus
Even though Judas had done all these things, his heart was corrupted by the love of money, and Jesus knew that about him
You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.
We can’t point fingers at Judas, because some of us suffer from the same thing
From the outside we look super religious and holy
Other people would acknowledge that we are a true and genuine follower of Jesus
Perhaps we teach Sunday school or lead a discipleship group, we attend church whenever the doors are open, we give sacrificially to the church and other organizations, we do all these things that make it look like were a genuine follower of Jesus Christ
They would never suspect that our hearts are corrupt with some kind of sin
We can’t hide that from God, because He knows our heart
Are you a true and genuine follower of Jesus Christ?
Is there some sin that would identify you as a betrayer of Jesus and not a genuine follower?
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess any sin that is keeping me from truly following Jesus, and determine to repent and turn from it today.
You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.
What we see next is a private conversation that takes place between Jesus, John, and Judas
Peter is the first one to perhaps ask the question that every disciple had
He prompts John to ask Jesus which disciple He means
In order to understand the scene, where John is prompted to ask Jesus the question, and then leans back against Him to ask, we have to understand the cultural setting for the meal they were sharing
For special meals, the Jews would use the Roman way of reclining at the table
A low three-sided table shaped like a “U” would be set up and couches/cushions would surround it on the outside
Those serving the meal would do so from inside the U-shaped table
Each guest would recline at the table with their head toward the table and their feet away from the table
They would all recline on their left elbow and eat with their right hand
The host of the meal would be at the center of the table with the guest of honor at his left and the second guest of honor to his right [Köstenberger, 415]
Jesus was the host of the meal and was sitting in the center with John to His right and, as most believe, Judas to His left (the place of honor)
John has his back to Jesus, so the most natural thing for him to do, in asking the question, is to lean back against Jesus’ chest
John asks Jesus who it is that is going to betray Him
Jesus doesn’t say Judas’ name in response to the question
Instead He tells John that the person He gives the piece of bread to, after He dips it in the dish, is the person who is going to betray Him
This sets the stage for Jesus’ final appeal to Judas
Jesus immediately dips the bread in the dish and gives it to Judas Iscariot
The reason most scholars believe that Judas was in the position of honor, to Jesus’ left, is because Jesus is able to give the piece of bread to him without the other disciples knowing the private conversation that has just taken place between He and John
Jesus tells Judas to quickly do what he is about to do
We all know what Jesus is talking about, because we have the rest of the story provided in the Gospels
The other disciples, around the table, didn’t understand why Jesus said this to Judas
They speculated that because Judas was in charge of the money (the treasurer) that Jesus was asking him to go buy supplies for the Feast or to give alms to the poor
Judas would not be buying supplies for the Passover Feast, because that is what they were participating in that night
He would have been buying supplies for the Feast of Unleavened Bread that would begin that night and last for seven days [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 475]
It would not have been unusual for Judas to go and give something to the poor on Passover night, because this was the traditional practice at that time [Borchert, 95]
The temple gates would be left open from midnight on, so those who were poor, and had to beg for alms, could gather there [Carson, 475]
While Jesus’ command to Judas was heard by the whole group, the conversation with John about who was going to betray Him was private
John knew what Jesus was talking about when He told Judas to go quickly and do what he was going to do
How did the other disciples miss that conversation?
First, John had leaned back against Jesus and probably whispered in His ear
Second, after each disciple had asked Jesus if it was him, they were probably talking among themselves about who it might be, but also a dispute had broken out among them about which of them was considered to be the greatest (Luke 22:24)
The disciples were distracted, which is probably why they didn’t hear the conversation between Jesus and John
Jesus’ love for Judas
Perhaps Jesus had set Judas to His left as a way of showing him how much He loved him – it was the place of honor
As Jesus offers the piece of bread to Judas, I come only imagine that His desire was that Judas would reconsider the plans he had made with the chief priests to betray Him
This was His final appeal to Judas, His bread appeal
Judas couldn’t fake it any more, he had to make a decision – accept or reject Jesus
You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.
Satan enters Judas and he leaves
As soon as Judas took the bread, he had made his choice – reject Jesus
He immediately left the Passover meal
It was night
John’s statement about it being night is not only a time stamp, but is also a spiritual reality for Judas
He had chosen darkness instead of light
That’s the same choice every one of us has to make
Will we choose to accept or reject Jesus Christ, the Light of the world?
Will you accept Jesus by believing in Him, so you can have eternal life?
Will you take time this week to do self-evaluation concerning any situation that arises?
Will you take time to evaluate if there is any sin in your life that is keeping you from truly following Jesus Christ?
As we all commit to these next steps, we will see transformed lives, that are genuinely committed to Jesus
“Think of Judas. Judas decided to follow Jesus. Judas heard Jesus teach. He went out two by two with the others, healing the sick and exorcising demons. Judas did a lot of disciple kinds of things. Yet he is remembered solely for how his relationship with Jesus ended.
How a life, a ministry, how a relationship ends is absolutely crucial to everything that goes before it.”
Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.
“It is startling to think that Satan can actually come into the heart of a man in such close touch with Jesus as Judas was. And more--he is cunningly trying to do it today. Yet he can get in only through a door opened from the inside. ‘Every man controls the door of his own life.’ Satan can't get in without our help.
S. D. Gordon in The Bent-Knee Time. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 10.