LIFE TO THE DEAD SELL OUT [JOHN 13:18-30]
by Pastor Mike Fortune
November 15, 2008
Introduction: BlueFishVideo: The Same Crush
Life Comes From...
- Loving friends and enemies [John 13:18-21; Matthew 18:10-14]
- Living fake free [John 13:22-27; Jeremiah 17:9]
- Coming back to Jesus [John 13:28-30; Jeremiah 9:23-24]
The thing is Jesus did pick Judas. He did offer him the bread. Which was not merely a symbol of Christ’s body that would be shortly broken on the cross for his sins. But was an unmistakable token of friendship. He wasn’t embarrassing Judas by calling Him out. He was protecting Him. Which we’ll see shortly.
But last time in John we witnessed how Jesus got up after the meal was already being served and washed Judas’ feet. Literally showing love and living grace. Clearly saying by doing so, “I’m going to love and serve you to the very end. Even if you choose not to love and serve me.” And that’s when Peter stood up and made a scene and started saying things like you can’t wash my feet.” And then Jesus reminded him that “If you don’t accept grace, you can have no part of me.”
But here’s the mind bender. Judas accepted grace. Or at least it looked like he did. Judas let Jesus wash his feet. Scripture records no outburst from Judas. Only Peter. Not only that, but Scripture records that Judas also accepted the bread. Even after Jesus said, “This is my body broken for you. Take eat and do this in remembrance of Me.” Judas, at least outwardly, said yes to Jesus. But as we’ll see today, life comes from loving our friends and enemies, living fake free lives, and from coming back to Jesus. Which is the lesson Peter learned last but Judas obviously did not.
So let’s dig in. John 13:18-30 reads, “18"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' 19"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." 21After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." 22His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." 25Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" 26Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, 28but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
Show love and live grace like Jesus did
I think it’s interesting that our passage today begins with a blessing. We start our meals with a blessing. Thanking God for our daily bread. Even if we’re just having salad right? And Jesus has a special blessing for people who love each other till the very end. Not because we’re worthy. But because in showing love and living grace, we are modeling what it is like to live a life of faith. Like Jesus did. That’s why foot washing is such a big deal to Jesus. And why it should be to us. We’re gonna be doing a Friday night Christmas Communion on December 26 where our young people, Youth Operate, will with Pastor Rachel’s help be leading us in this special service. So I hope all of you in town make plans to be there for that.
And Jesus is saying there is a special blessing if you do. But Judas, would not be around to receive many more of them. That’s why He says in verse 18, “I am not referring to all of you.” Now Jesus didn’t say that because He didn’t want to give Judas more grace. He said that because He knew Judas wouldn’t be around to receive it. John 6:64 says “For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.” That's why Jesus says in John 13:19, “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.”
And that, friends, is the point of prophecy according to Jesus. We talked about this a couple weeks ago in the message Life to the Dead Prophecy. But still I find that as a church we need to be reminded of this. Because every day it seems a scarier email arrives. Every day it seems a more threatening situation occurs. And the temptation to crawl into a fetal position and start crying about all the awful things in the world is overwhelming. And yes, there are some scary things in the world. But Jesus knew that! That’s why He said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble!” But He didn’t stop there did He! The rest of that verse says, “But take heart” why? “Because I have overcome the world.” After the meal He added, “Let NOT your heart be troubled.” He knew it would be from time to time. Even among the bravest and most sincere followers of Jesus. And that’s okay. But by faith, let’s choose not to let it stay troubled. Because if we stay that way, it is not from God. How do I know? Because 2 Timothy 1:7 clearly says so. Paul tells the young pastor Timothy “God did NOT give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
And friends, it takes self-discipline to hit the delete button and not forward fear. It takes self-discipline to remind yourself that Jesus said the point of prophecy is to help us look back not forward. It takes self-discipline to solidify our faith that Jesus has been in control of the past. And therefore will be with us and in control of our future. Amen? It takes self-discipline and faith to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. But it can be done. Or Jesus would’ve never asked his disciples to do so. Go to my blog or pick up the hard copy of this week’s edition on the table in the foyer if you want more info about that.
Life comes from loving friends and enemies
But in the meantime, don’t miss point number one. Jesus isn’t calling down curses on Judas. He’s simply saying, because He’s God and knows all, that some folks won’t love Him back. That one of them will not accept the blessings and challenges and joys of humble faith. And that after everything is over, when the rest of the disciples remember what took place, they’ll remember that not only was Jesus still with them and in control, but that Jesus still loved Judas. And showed him that love to the very end. Even though He knew Judas wouldn’t love him back. And that’s what we’re supposed to do.
We know this is true because Jesus told a parable about that. Alex read it earlier. It’s found in Matthew 18:10-14. So we won’t read it again now. But it makes a great family discussion question. Why would the Good Shepherd leave 99 sheep on the side of some hill to go look for the one lost sheep that wandered away? Growing up, Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Story books gave me the impression those sheep were safely tucked inside some pen on the side of the hill. And the shepherd would sleep in front of the only gate. Counting the sheep, nursing their wounds, and calling them all by name. But have you ever noticed that’s not what Matthew 18 says? There’s no guarded sheep pen in Matthew 18! This is a crazy kind of love the shepherd has for His sheep. One in which He’s willing to leave the 99 hanging out together on the side of some hill while he goes looking for the one that is lost. Point number one: Life comes from loving our friends and our enemies.
Jesus showed love to Judas too
This becomes even more obvious as we keep reading in John 13:21-24 which says, “21After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." Jesus loved Judas like crazy too!!! He wanted him to change his mind. That’s why Jesus lived grace and showed Judas love to the very end. Life comes from showing love to our friends and yes even to our enemies. Even if we’re sure they won’t love us back. But verse 22 continues, “His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means.”
I love that part. John is the only Gospel writer to include this little anecdote. That the big brave Peter who minutes earlier was waxing eloquent how there is no way Jesus would wash his feet is now passing notes like a Pathfinder in vespers. “Psst. Ask him if it’s me. No, you ask him. No you ask him. No you ask him!” So John, who is so humble that he refuses to even call himself by name in his own Gospel, says in verse 23, “One of them, the disciple that Jesus kept on loving flaws and all”—And by the way, we talked about that already right? That in Greek “beloved” means “kept on loving flaws and all?” So it should read, “Simon Peter motioned to the beloved disciple, John, the Son of Thunder Jesus kept on loving flaws and all, and said, ‘Ask Jesus what he means.’” So John, knowing that it’s always okay to ask Jesus anything, leans back on Jesus [which is a sermon all by itself, just think about that] and asks Jesus, “Is it Peter?” Just kidding!
That’s not what he asked. Life comes from showing love to our friends not publicly embarrassing them. So even though his friend asked him to ask, John doesn’t embarrass his friend who’s already suffered enough public scrutiny that night and instead asks, “Is it I?” Not is it him? Is it I? And as we’ll see, Jesus could have replied yes to John too. Because the Bible says they all ran away when Jesus was arrested. They were all huddled in the upper room scared spitless. Yes, they would all betray Jesus. Not just Judas. But the blessing of coming back to Jesus and continuing to serve Jesus flaws and all would be reserved for the rest of the disciples not Judas.
So Jesus answers in verse 26, “26It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.”
Now when we read that, it sounds bad. Not only that Satan entered into him. Which we’ll talk about. But that Jesus is publicly embarrassing Judas. But that is not what was happening. And the reason we know so is because Jesus was quoting Psalm 41:9. Which says, “ 9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Which was a psalm written by David against the backdrop of the rebellion of Absalom. You can read about that in 2 Samuel 15. But long story short: Absalom was David’s son. Whom he loved like crazy. Even after Absalom determined to conspire against him to take the throne.
But David kept on loving him flaws and all! So it couldn’t be more appropriate that Jesus quotes Psalm 41 to express the way He feels about Judas. And to make sure Judas understood that, he offered him bread. Which in the middle east is a customary way of saying, “You are my friend.” And since John was sitting next to Jesus, and Peter was obviously next to John, most folks think the guy on the other side of Jesus was Judas. Jesus let Judas sit beside him. Jesus wasn’t embarrassing Judas. He was befriending Judas. He was showing him love and giving him grace even though He knew he wasn’t going to accept it!
Jesus showed grace to Judas
Some people think when there’s a conflict in the church or home that if they follow the steps in Matthew 18 and still the other person refuses to reconcile, then that gives Christians the right to cut that person out of their lives. To throw them away. To treat them rudely. To publicly embarrass them. Wrong! If you keep reading that passage of Scripture in Matthew 18 that follows immediately after the parable of the good shepherd that leaves the 99 to look for the 1 lost sheep, what Jesus says is you should treat that other person bugging you like a tax collector. That’s in Matthew 18:17. But how did Jesus treat tax collectors? When no one else would, he showed them love. He lived grace. And that’s what Jesus was doing to Judas in letting him sit by his side and offering Him bread.
Point number one: Life comes from loving our friends and enemies. And point number two: Life comes from living fake free. Jesus knows all about you, but loves you anyway. But if you’re determined to live in darkness, in duplicity, as a fake follower of Jesus, He’ll let you. Jesus told Judas, “To get on with it. To do what you do quickly.”
And Jeremiah 17:9 says that’s something we all do very well. Why? Because “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” That’s why God has to give us a new heart to write His law of love on. Transplants and pace makers don’t cut it. We need a brand new heart. Not someone else’s old one.
And that’s what the new old covenant gives us. You can read about that in Jeremiah 31:33-35. But as verse 28 reveals, there was as much confusion about that then as there is today. “No one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him.” I think the disciples were beginning to see that life comes from loving our friends and enemies. That they knew. What they didn’t know is that Judas was one of those enemies.
The other synoptic Gospel writers all describe the sell out of Jesus as having already been decided. John alone describes it in terms of things not yet. I love that about John. The apostle Jesus kept on loving flaws and all better understood perhaps than even Peter that there was still hope for Judas. That love wins. That small things done with great love still change the world. So he writes his account in such a way as to keep the door open for Judas as long as possible. But even John sees the results of living a fake life. So he adds these words in verse 27 and 30 which say, “27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him” and “he went out” and “it was dark.”
Life comes from returning to Jesus
But good news people, Jesus is the light of the world. And if your old heart is still beating, there’s still time for God to create and give you a new one. And that’s exactly what the famous novelist Anne Rice has chosen to receive. Raised as a person with faith, she abandoned it in college and became an atheist writing books about the darkness, using in the interview I heard on Focus on the Family with Dr. Dobson, vampires as the metaphor to describe the spiritual darkness she was experiencing. And she was very successful at it for 38 years writing 22 novels selling over 75 million copies spawning a movie by one of her most famous titles Interview With the Vampire. And though it would take her many years to see the light much less come back to it, she eventually would. And when she did, the friendship of Jesus was waiting. Today, Anne Rice has just written the 4 th of a series of books about Jesus. Using the Gospel accounts, excellent archaeological info, and extra doses of her imagination and [to be honest] some not so reliable sources such as the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, she nonetheless weaves together a compelling picture of the authentic and endless love of God shown to us and lived by Jesus. Numerous people have asked her why she no longer writes books about vampires.
“My objective is simple: It's to write books about our Lord living on Earth that make him real to people who don't believe in him; or people who have never really tried to believe in him,” she said. “I mean, I've made vampires believable to grown women. Now, if I can do that, I can make our Lord Jesus Christ believable to people who've never believed in him. To be able to take the tools, the apprenticeship, whatever I learned from being a vampire writer, or whatever I was — to be able to take those tools now and put them in the service of God is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity,” she said. “And I hope I can redeem myself in that way. I hope that the Lord will accept the books I am writing now.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says something similar. “23 This is what the LORD says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me.” Is that your desire? Aren’t you glad sell outs are welcome at Jesus’ table? Aren’t you glad you can always come home?
Point number one: Life comes from loving our friends and enemies [John 13:18-21; Matthew 18:10-14]. From living fake free [John 13:22-27; Jeremiah 17:9] lives flaws and all. Point number two. And most important of all, life comes from coming back to Jesus and living in the light [John 13:28-30; Jeremiah 9:23-24].
If that is your desire today, would you please repeat what these Pathfinders are reminding us of today? “Lord, help me find my path!” Say that. “Create in me a clean heart.” Repeat that please. “I want to live in the light.” Amen and amen which means so shall it be.