Lessons from John 13: Judas
If you remember in our last lesson, Jesus identified Judas as the one who would betray Him. Therefore Jesus told Judas to go and do what he was going to do quickly. And at the command of Jesus, Judas left. At that point, Jesus was left alone with the remaining 11 disciples.
The first thing Jesus did in Judas’ absence was to predict His own death. Jesus told His disciples, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself and will glorify him at once” (John 13:31-32).
It seems rather strange that Jesus would refer to His death as His glorification.
Yet, Jesus knew that this was the moment He and the Father had long awaited. This was the purpose for which Jesus, the Son of God, had been born.
This was their plan since before the beginning of time and now the time had come. The time when Jesus, the Son of God, holy and perfect in every way, made His way to earth through the womb of a virgin.
He took on flesh and then lived a holy and perfect life without sin. And yet He would go to the cross and willingly lay down His life to become the perfect sin sacrifice. He did it on behalf of sinful mankind as a ransom for the penalty of sin.
Jesus did what we couldn’t do for ourselves and that made a way back to God.
The scriptures tell us in Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we are in need of a Savior. Someone who could save us. Someone who could save us from the power of Satan in this world and the penalty of our sins.
And Jesus did this perfectly!
He did this as He suffered silently as a Lamb who is sent to slaughter. He was stripped of all of His clothes and was spit on. And the Roman leaders, who God Himself had put into place, mocked Him and placed a crown of thorns upon His head. After suffering several severe beatings, He was then crucified as a criminal.
If all of that wasn’t too much to bear, all of His disciples deserted Him. And then, for a moment in time, Jesus faced the ultimate separation from His Father. He bore the sins of the world so that you and I wouldn’t have to live under the power of Satan and the guilt and condemnation of our sin and eternal separation from the Father.
There is a sense in which Jesus was perfected at this time. He not only gave all His life to God but as Philippians 2:8-9 talks about, He made Himself of no reputation. He was obedient not only through His life but also unto death.
Now, friends, that is His glory. The glory of His character which God says has been perfected, matured through sufferings.
Hebrews tells us that the pioneer of our salvation was made perfect through His sufferings. And therefore Jesus referred to His death on the cross as His glorification! His glory fulfilled!
Jesus spoke with confidence, stating that His death, as awful as it would be, would glorify not only Himself but ultimately would glorify God the Father. Because Jesus was obedient unto the Father, even to the point of death on the cross, God the Father was glorified in Jesus and Jesus in Him.
Maybe you too are suffering or being humiliated or falsely accused. Could it be that God is saying this is for His glory and your good?
But you can’t imagine how. It seems so counter-productive, so upside down.
But maybe God is saying, “I am taking you where Jesus went. I’m taking you through the cross. I’m taking you through this trial. I am taking you through a place outside of your comfort, outside of your understanding, or earthly comprehension. Yet in it, I will glorify Myself and purify your life. It is going to build your character and perfect your thinking.”
This was the glorification Jesus was talking about, yet His disciples had no clue! And though they did not understand what Jesus was saying at the time, after Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension they would gain the wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit who would bring all these things together for them.
But for now, Jesus continued His conversation with His disciples by addressing them as His children. He said in verse 33, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.”
I think Jesus referred to His disciples as children first because they had become a part of His family, His earthly family. Yet, He also knew they had become a part of His eternal family and that He would see them again in eternity.
But as a Father who loves His children, Jesus also knew His departure was going to cause them pain and grief.
They would face many trials and tribulations after He left. He also knew that they would suffer greatly for the cause of Christ and the spread of the Gospel.
And so Jesus told them in verse 34-35, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
We all know what can happen when a loved one dies. We either play the blame game, if only, I should have, would have, or could have. Or we get so down and depressed or even sink to the brink of despair. Yet none of these are productive. Yes, we grieve, but we don’t stay there.
When the time is right we get up and move forward!
We aren’t to alienate ourselves from others or from God. We are to continue to live in the spirit of love and unity.
And that was what Jesus was telling His disciples. He was really saying, don’t fall apart, don’t go your separate ways. No, instead comfort one another by putting your brother’s needs before your own. Seek the good of My people and be My living examples of love and kindness. This is how people will know you are My disciples if you love one another.
There is nothing is worse than when there is disunity in the body of Christ.
You see, if we can’t get along with each other, in whom Christ resides, how can we get along with those who are not a part of the body?
And what does that say to others outside of the church?
Jesus set the example as He washed the feet of His disciples, including Judas. He expects nothing less of us!
His command means it’s not a choice; it’s expected that we would love one another not just in word but also in deed.
Who is it God is commanding you to love in spite of yourself? From whom do you need to seek forgiveness for an indifferent attitude? Won’t you take it to the Lord in prayer and then do the things He requires of you?
There is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey! Love covers a multitude of sins the scriptures tell us!
Now it appears that Peter was still caught up in Jesus’ statement that where He was going the disciples could not go.
They had traveled with Him for the better part of three years. They ate together, they traveled together, they sat under Jesus’ teachings and had been eyewitnesses to His miracles. In fact, they left their former lives behind in order to follow Him! And now, now Jesus was saying where He was going they could not follow!
What? What did that mean?!
And so Simon Peter, as John puts it, asked the question. Simon referring to Peter’s fallen nature and humanity before Christ came along and changed him. Simon was changed in character into Peter, the little rock on which Jesus would build His church.
But here there seems to be more of Simon than Peter. We are told that Peter questioned Jesus as to where He was going.
And Jesus repeated His original statement, “Where I am going, you cannot follow” but this time Jesus added, “but you will follow later.” He was referring to their eternal destination–heaven! Where they and every other believer for that fact will spend eternity with Him and each other.
But Peter, who often reacted impulsively, asked Jesus, “Lord” (referring to Jesus as His master, suggesting that Peter would do anything for Him), “why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
And Jesus, knowing better, asked Peter, “Will you really lay down your life for me, Peter?” Terri? Mary? You put your name in there!
Then Jesus predicted, “I tell you the truth, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times!” Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. And Jesus was fully aware that Satan had indeed asked to sift Peter as wheat and God was going to allow it. Yet we are told that Jesus said He would be praying Peter through it.
You see, friends, though Satan sought to undermine Peter, God would use even Peter’s temporary failure to strengthen Peter. It would purify his heart and mind and grow his character not only as a follower of Jesus Christ but also as a leader of His church.
You cannot love Jesus unless you rely on Him.