v 18. As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
Jesus must have felt this betrayal very keenly. What emotions must have swept through His humanity when He saw what Judas was about to do! To eat with a friend was the summit of acceptance and fellowship, yet here was that friend on the verge of breaking that trust. The inevitability and hurt of it must have stretched Him to near breaking point.
I honestly can’t remember a time when I have been badly let down. For sure, friends have forgotten what they promised to do, work colleagues have failed to do what was asked of them, waiters in a restaurant have brought the wrong food to the table and even family members have proved unreliable in some way, but in this element of bible history the word ‘betray’ comes to the front. It was not forgetfulness, nor incompetence, and it was not the result of some unfortunate circumstances. This was betrayal, a deliberate act of wild malice by a person who claimed to be a friend and follower of Jesus.
That hurts – betrayal always does.
I find it impossible to imagine how Jesus felt at that moment; a deadly mixture of sadness and regret, with the inner turmoil of knowing the inevitable outcome of what Judas was doing. He was lighting the touchpaper that would explode on Calvary as the nails were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet by the Roman soldiers.
Betrayal must have hurt Jesus every bit as much as the nails.
John’s record of this, in John 13, indicates just how Jesus was prepared for all this. ‘Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night. ‘ The disciples didn’t know in advance about this betrayal, but Jesus did.
For Jesus, the die was cast, the final countdown to the cross had begun.
But Jesus knew even more; He knew that in the coming hours He was going to bear the sin of the world – yours and mine – to reconcile us to the Father in Heaven. What began in the stable at Bethlehem was now coming to its climax as Judas walked out into the darkness to betray his friend.
Jesus was a Man like no other, betrayed by a close friend.