After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly. I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (John 13:2)
When I was a young girl, a friend hand stitched a sampler, framed it, and gave it to me as a gift. It’s stitched message reads “All the wealth of the world could not buy a friend.”
When we visualize this dramatic scene in John 13, we see a friend who is a perfect actor and a perfect hypocrite. Judas’ act of love and loyalty deceived even his closest friends. But there is no hiding things from the eye of Jesus. In John 13:18, Jesus quotes from Psalms 41:9, “But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”
In the eastern mind, Judas’ sheer cruelty can be pictured when Jesus quoted from this psalm of David. To eat bread with anyone was a sign of friendship and an act of loyalty. Some believe Judas sat at the right side of Jesus, a place of honor. Jesus offering Judas a special morsel from the dish was another sign of special friendship. When Boaz wished to show how much he honored Ruth, he invited her to come and dip her morsel in the wine (Ruth 2:14). David allowed Mephibosheth to eat bread at his table when he could have easily eliminated him as a descendant of Saul. The very act of eating the bread at a friend’s table was a pledge of friendship.
It was a bitter thing when someone was disloyal to a friend they ate bread with. Jesus knew his betrayer’s dark heart. It’s why he was deeply troubled in spirit. The literal Hebrew meaning for “he lifted up his heel against me” is a phrase describing an act of brutal violence. Psalm 55:12-14 says, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.” The treachery of Judas is seen at its worst. If the other disciples had known what Judas was about to do, he would have never left that room alive.
This tragic drama played itself out to the end. Jesus relentlessly showed his affection to Judas until finally he told Judas to, “go and do what you purpose to do.” Judas took the bread and the devil entered him. It is a terrible thing when love’s appeal becomes hate’s dynamic. That is what the devil can do. He can twist the loveliest things until they become the agents of hell. He turns love into lust. He can take holiness and turn it into pride. He takes discipline and turns it into sadistic cruelty.
Jesus invites us to partake at his table. He wants us to be his guests of honor. But, we are to imitate him in love. He wants us to love purely. He wants us to walk in holiness and humility. He asks us to respond to his call with surrendered discipline. He wants to be our best friend. He wants us to know that, “All the wealth of the world could not buy a friend.”
The sampler…it goes with me wherever I go. It’s maker and I remain very good friends!