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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Identifying the Betrayer (13:18-20)

As we read this passage, the first thought that comes to mind is the contrast between the attitudes of Jesus and Judas at this time. Jesus was determined to serve others, Judas was determined to benefit only himself. A second thought that may occur is the catastrophe that befell Judas. He must have had his reasons for initially following Jesus, some hopes that he was the one to liberate Israel from Roman rule. Judas probably had belonged to the extreme nationalist party of Jews. A third thought that may cross our minds is the control of God, linked to his secret dealings, arranging for Jesus to be betrayed. Fourthly, we are reminded here of the deity of Jesus, that the secrets of Judas’ heart were known to Christ.

Jesus informs his disciples that among them there is a traitor. There are several details in this intimation that are worth observing. Note the two reasons why Jesus gives this information: to show the accuracy of the Bible and to prove that he was the Messiah. Although the betrayal would be an evil act, that did not mean it would not be a spiritually profitable one if his disciples looked for the appropriate blessings. There is a principal here worth learning, which is that bad situations always indicate the truth of the Bible, and when these occasions occur, we should strengthen our faith in Christ as the Saviour. It would not have helped the disciples if the treachery of Judas caused them to doubt the word of God and the claims of Christ.

Of course, Jesus could have allowed events to unfold without telling his disciples. Their ignorance would not have affected the outcome, but it would have affected their sense of comfort. And Jesus did not want their souls to be troubled. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Jesus quotes from Psalm 41:9, which is a reference to Ahithophel who betrayed David by following Absalom. In that psalm David took his case to God, looking for comfort in a severe disappointment. We too can do the same when we are let down or betrayed, and not only can we draw near to God but we can also obtain sympathy and help from a Saviour who has passed through a similar experience. 

Jesus reveals to his disciples that he was aware of what Judas would do when he selected him as an apostle. This is a reminder that Jesus did everything with a view to his suffering on the cross. 

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