1 Corinthians 11:23-24 - For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." John 13:18 - "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, `He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'" Psalm 41:9 - Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
Have you ever been betrayed? By a friend? By a close friend--someone you completely trusted? Such an experience is beyond emotional grasp for many of us. We all know how it feels when people take advantage of us or when unprincipled individuals step on us. But to be betrayed by a trusted friend hurts much more. When we think of the suffering of a dedicated and faithful wife who is betrayed by her husband or an innocent young child who is betrayed by parents, we can begin to comprehend the emotional hurt that comes with betrayal. This kind of suffering is deeper and more grievous than physical suffering. Usually there are limits to physical pain, but there is continual mental and emotional anguish associated with personal betrayal. Our Lord Jesus was betrayed. He was betrayed by a close "friend". He was betrayed on the special night that was meant to be a time of intimate fellowship between Himself and His trusted companions. Jesus knew full well that this betrayal would lead to His death by crucifixion the next day. (See Luke 9:22-23 and John 13:1-2, 11.) Imagine how we would feel, on the night before our death, if we knew our lives were to be taken from us--in the prime of life. What would we be thinking if we knew that our violent death would be brought about by the betrayal of a close friend? Our feelings would probably range from helplessness and fear to a mixture of bitterness and anger. Our thoughts would likely include ideas of revenge or notions of recanting our faith and certainly plans for running away while there was still time! But all of these thoughts and feelings were foreign to our Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 informs us that He gave thanks on the night in which He was betrayed! The Lord was not thinking of preserving His life for Himself but of giving His life for us! He was not going to run away in fear. He would persevere to the end and finish His special work. We gain a greater appreciation of the magnitude of our Lord's courage and commitment and endurance, as well as His incredible love for us, as we remember that the events of Good Friday took place against the black background of His betrayal. The extent of the treachery of our Lord's betrayer is seen in John 13. During the course of the "Last Supper", Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. In verse 18, the Lord introduced the subject with a quotation from Psalm 41: "He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me." Soon after this statement the Lord privately indicated to Peter and John that Judas was the betrayer. Judas! Who would have suspected Judas? He was the appointed and trusted treasurer of the group. Maybe impetuous Peter, but certainly not responsible Judas! Religious artists usually portray Judas as a sly and crafty individual in appearance, but that is not the picture of Judas that emerges from the Bible. His unbelief and his traitorous character were amazingly masked right to the end. Over a three year period he was able to pilfer money from the others without arousing the least suspicion (John 12:6). Even after going to the authorities, bargaining for the blood money and deliberately plotting to betray Jesus, Judas still posed as a model disciple. Along with the rest of the disciples at the Passover, Judas innocently asked, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" (See Matthew 26:15, 16, 25; Mark 14:19 and John 13:2.) In John 13:26 we learn that Judas readily responded to Christ's friendly gesture of sharing food during the meal without the slightest misgiving or indication of the base designs that were in his heart. The gesture of Jesus, as the host, giving a portion to Judas, one of the guests, was an indication of honor in that culture and thus further heightens the hypocrisy of Judas. And when Judas left the upper room to do his heinous work, some of the other disciples thought that Jesus was sending him on a responsible mission for the group (John 13:29). What an extraordinary coverup Judas was able to pull off for his outrageous treachery! In the light of these details we stand amazed and awed at the patience and gentleness of our Savior as well as His willing submission to humiliation. The Lord was not fooled by Judas. He knew the hearts of all men (John 2:24-25). He knew from the beginning that Judas was the betrayer (John 6:64, 71). And yet for three years the Lord Jesus graciously tolerated Judas, a man of whom Christ Himself said, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24). Think of all the times of joy and sorrow that Jesus shared with His own--and Judas. Think of the long hours that our Lord spent teaching His close followers--among them Judas. Think of the supernatural power and authority that Christ conferred on the twelve--including Judas (Matthew 10:1). Think of how the Lord washed all the disciples' feet (John 13:5,12). Think of the many eastern-type embraces that the Lord must have shared with Judas. (Since the kiss was probably the normal greeting between Jesus and His disciples, Judas would have felt confident that it could be used as the betraying signal.) Finally, think of how the Lord Jesus endured that final embrace and kiss of betrayal from Judas (Mark 14:43-46). How it must have hurt the deeply tender, gentle and sensitive soul of the Lord to look directly into the eyes of His betrayer and say, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48). Why? Why such long-suffering and tolerance on the part of Christ? Why did the Lord show such willing submission to humiliation? There were probably a number of reasons, all of which involved the working out of God's sovereign plans for man's salvation. For example, the cruel and sinful depravity of man was clearly shown--not only in the mockery and spitting and scourging by the paganRoman soldiers, and the rejection and despising by the religiousJews, but also the betrayal by one of the disciples. In addition, we certainly have before us a remarkable demonstration of the way the Lord deals with one of us. What incredible long-suffering the Lord has shown toward us! How long did He put up with our hearts of rebellion before we turned to Him for salvation? How much humiliation have we, as Christians, brought upon the One who gave His life for us? How much hurt have we caused the heart of our Savior through our actions--or our inaction? How many times have we hypocritically compromised in the faith and "betrayed" our Lord for literally less than 30 pieces of this world's silver? Consider the deadly sins of pride, covetousness, jealousy, ambition and wilfulness that lie in the depths of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Surely we must agree that but for the amazing grace of God, every one of us could have taken the place of Judas. Psalm 41 gives us further insight into the betrayal and the humiliation of our Lord. In Psalm 41, David is reflecting on the time when his son, Absalom, seized the kingdom and usurped the throne of Israel. David fled from Jerusalem with his loyal followers, but his close friend and trusted counselor, Ahithophel, betrayed David and sided with Absalom. He even told Absalom how to go about destroying David! (Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 15-18.) The fact that our Lord quoted Psalm 41:9 proves that Ahithophel prophetically portrayed Judas. It is noteworthy in this connection that Ahithophel, like Judas, hanged himself when he realized that his counsel to the enemies of David had been over-ruled (2 Samuel 17:23). It is also significant that when our Lord applied this Scripture to Judas, He did not quote the first part of the verse. Jesus left out, "Even my close friend in whom I trusted," for obvious reasons. By quoting the second half of Psalm 41:9, the Lord Jesus indicated that He was keenly aware of the hatefulness and the blackness of the treachery before Him. As Ahithophel deceptively posed beneath the shelter of oriental hospitality and sat at David's own table, so did Judas at the Lord's table. As Ahithophel disgracefully partook of his master's bread, so did Judas at the Passover feast and institution of the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19-21). As Ahithophel shamefully betrayed the king and plotted to assassinate him, so did Judas, with such deceitful candor. As Ahithophel viciously lifted up his heel and "kicked" his lord, so did Judas, with sudden and shocking brutality, in the most infamous betrayal the world has ever known. As we reflect on the betrayal of our Lord, may our hearts go out to Him in more love and devotion for all that He suffered. His road to the cross for our salvation was paved with incredible sorrows. May we also examine our hearts and lives for areas in which we are guilty of bringing humiliation to the name of Christ. May our all-too-frequent "betrayals" of our Savior for worldly profit or popularity be brought to an abrupt end! May we, with His promised help, take action to live out a clear profession of faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.