JOHN:The Book of Heartfelt Belief

Preparing For Betrayal

John 13:18-30

Jerry A. Collins



We have often used the phrase who would have ever thought that about him or her. Usually when we hear a bit of news that we could not have imagined to be true about someone we will make this statement. Unfortunately in this life there are a good many things that are difficult to understand or explain. In our passage the disciples found it very difficult to comprehend what Jesus was saying when He told them of the one who would soon betray him. Of course, we have the benefit of knowing the beginning and the ending but for the disciples what Jesus was saying was so far from what they expected that they simply could not grasp what seemed so clear. What Jesus makes clear is that He is about to be betrayed by one of them. Maybe that news was what was so hard to comprehend given the fact that they had been together now for over three years. Jesus is preparing for His betrayal.


Jesus selection of Judas was not an accident or mistake. Jesus chose a betrayer among His 12 disciples in order to fulfill scripture, namely Psa 41:9. As David was betrayed by His trusted table companion Ahithophel who then hanged himself (2 Sam 16:20ff) so Judas, Jesusí companion betrayed Him and then hanged himself. While Jesus knew all of this in advance, Judas made a choice to betray Christ vs 21 and he was responsible for that choice.

It is true that in the Bible God predetermined in His eternal plan every single event, small and large, that ever happens (Isa 14:24; Eph 1:4-11). However, we humans also have complete unhindered free will to make choices (Gen 3; Deut 30:19 choose life; Pauls writings full of commands to choose to obey or not).The Bible says God predestined everything and it never says He did not. The Bible says people have free will and it never says they do not. Putting this together is an area where we do not have enough knowledge. Even Judas betrayal which may have looked like Jesus lost control is part of Gods predetermined plan. At same time Judas was responsible for his choices including stealing money from money box 12:6, striking deal with chief priests to betray Christ Matt 26:14-15, leading soldiers to Jesus betraying him with a kiss Luke 22:47-48, regretting and trying to reverse his actions returning money too late then hangs himself Matt 27:3-10. Yet all of this fulfilled scripture prophesied years before it happened. Nothing happens in your life and mine that God has not already determined would happen and my choices are part of that outcome. We participate with God in the outworking of his purposes for us as we freely choose the paths we will walk.


This is the third time John describes Jesus in great distress. The idea is to be stirred or agitated. He was distressed at the burial site of Lazarus 11:33. He was greatly distressed at prospect of His coming hour of suffering the penalty for mans sin 12:27. Here it is at the thot of one of His own followers betraying him. But it is not a self-centered focus but at the spiritual condition, conduct and destiny of Judas. Here is someone who witnessed casting out of demons, giving site to blind man, still the storm, walked on water, fed 5000 but was about to betray Jesus. Here is someone so hardened by unbelief, so deceived by his love for money that even in close proximity to Jesus it made no difference. This causes great distress in Jesus.

There will be people we will witness to, bring to church, have Bible studies with and pray for that will remain as spiritually hardened as Judas was. That anyone in this close fellowship to Jesus could do this is almost beyond comprehension. Who would have ever thot that about him? Even the disciples were at a loss as to whom Jesus was speaking of. Judas had covered his tracks very well. It is not what you are doing for Jesus but what you believe about Jesus that determines your eternal destiny. Judas was the treasurer but he did not possess the treasure. Sometimes you will be greatly distressed at the unbelief of people. It causes distress because we know what the stakes are. They are eternal.


The disciples were curious about Jesus comment and Peter and John decide to ask Jesus to identify this betrayer. Matthews account of this incident contrasts the 11 disciples with Judas response. The 11 say Surely not I Lord? while Judas responds Surely not I Rabbi? The 11 see Jesus as the Lord while Judas after all he has seen and heard still views Jesus only as a teacher. After taking the morsel we read that Satan entered into Judas vs 27. Satan has already been at work influencing Judas vs 2. Judas has become a tool to accomplish Satans plan. Even though Satan is influencing Judas so that he can destroy Christ, Jesus dismisses Judas to get on with it since everything is moving according to Gods timetable. The disciples still missed what Judas was up to. He had cleverly deceived his peers but not Jesus. Even Satan is controlled by Christ and can only do what he is allowed to do when he is allowed to do it.

It is true that we can participate with Satan in accomplishing his will 2 Tim 2:26. The world, the flesh and the devil can influence us toward unrighteousness in our lives. The point being that this world is passing away and what makes pursuing this worlds passions so stupid is that they are temporary. Satans system will always ask you to give up the future for the present even if its 30 pieces of silver. God always asks you to give up the present for the future. There is only lasting value in doing the will of God.


John ominously concludes this story with the thot and it was night. So it was. In John this is symbolic since Judas was leaving the Light 8:12; 12:35, 46 and going into the darkness of sin 3:19. There is a point in time which it is too late to be saved. No one knows that time. Judas and Peter close proximity one a believer another unbeliever. Judas looks perfect till he betrays. Peter seems messing up even denying Christ. Peter failed many times but repented every time. Judas failures few but betrayal was point of no return.