. . . as The Lamb of God went to Calvary.

Scripture Text: John 13:18-22 Title: Betrayer Revealed

Question of the Day: Why would Jesus wait until the last minute to reveal to the disciples the identity of the Betrayer?

David Virts

If we are to understand the life of Jesus and learn from it, we must study the timing that He chose to unveil certain truths and do the specific things He did. This is illustrated in this passage as we have now just moved through the last Passover meal with Jesus and the disciples. Jesus had just washed their feet and explained to them why He did it, and now the time had come for Him to reveal the Betrayer to them. John indicated that Jesus knew from the beginning who it was who would betray Him, and in these verses Jesus even reveals that He specifically chose each one of them, and He said it in the context of revealing the betrayer to them.

Here is what He said: “I am not speaking about all of you. I know each of you that I have specifically chosen, and you were chosen so that the Scripture would be fulfilled that says, ‘He that eats bread with Me is the one who will betrays Me.’ I am telling you now so that when it happens, you will then believe fully who I am. The absolute truth is in these words: the person who receives the person that I send will receive Me; and when one receives me, the he also receives the One who sent me.’ When Jesus had said that, He was deeply troubled and got all chocked up and His spirit was deeply troubled as He said, ‘The absolute truth is in these words: one of you will betray Me.’ The disciples looked at each other in shock and wondered which of them He was talking about.”

Jesus had stated near the middle of His ministry in John 6:70-71 that He had chosen the twelve, but that one of them had a devil—speaking of Judas Iscariot who would betray Him. The rest of the gospels mention Judas when listing the twelve disciples that Jesus picked to be His closest followers, but none of them figured our who He was speaking about until at the last Passover meal. John remembered that Jesus had recorded those words in John 6, but the surprise he demonstrated when Judas showed up in the Garden of Gethsemane with the arresting mob showed that neither he nor the rest of the disciples had figured the identity of the betrayer until that moment.

Jesus knew His disciples well: He had heard them talking among themselves often about which of them was the greatest and would have the coveted position of being next to Jesus in His kingdom and sit at His right hand of power and authority; Jesus rebuked them several times for their pride and wanting a position of influence; just before today’s text Jesus had washed their feet and showed them what it meant to be a real Servant; and Jesus knew that if He told them what He knew—that Judas was the one who would betray Him—it would cause even more tension among these young and immature believers who had become His closest followers. At times Jesus had to rebuke them sharply and keep them in line so that they didn’t bite and devour one another.

When the time came to unveil the betrayer, Jesus was deeply “troubled in spirit”, the text says, and it was hard for Him to point the finger at one He considered His close friend with these words, “He that eats bread with Me is the one who will betrays Me.” The disciples were about to come to pieces as a group: one would betray Him; another would swear and deny Him three times; and the rest would forsake Him and flee. Jesus was deeply troubled to have to identify to this group that one of them would do such a dastardly deed as to betray the innocent Son of Man into the hands of evil men. But Jesus revealed to them why He unveiled the betrayer before it happened, “I am telling you know before it happens so that when it does happen, you will then believe fully My identity.”

God’s Spirit had revealed to Him through the Scriptures that one of His closest associates would turn against Him and betray Him, and after much prayer to His Father, He specifically chose a man—Judas—to be one of His closest followers with the knowledge that he would betray Him. Now that is what the Son of God in action does! It bothered Jesus deeply, and in revealing publicly the betrayer at the last Passover meal, He was giving Judas one more chance to repent before he carried out his evil plan. Jesus’ revelation of the betrayer clearly showed His deity, brought the rest of the disciples to a deeper faith in Him, and sealed the doom of a wicked man who would turn on an innocent man that he was so close to. Yes, Jesus is Lord, and Master, and God!

Prayer: Lord, we learn so much from Your life when You were here on earth. Bring us all to a full and much deeper faith in You so that we will see You, the Son of God, in all of Your glory and splendor. We believe, yet we need to come to believe fully—and You proved it again and again when You were here on earth. Amen!