September 10, 2023 |
John 13:21-35 | How Jesus Handles Betrayal | Sermon Only
John C. Majors |
Well, good morning. Valley View . It’s great to be with you all today as we continue studying the book of John, we’re in John, Chapter 13 again today. And we’re going to see a passage where we see the ultimate betrayal. And as I’ve thought about that theme of betrayal, I’ve thought of some important or memorable betrayals in history, one you may recall from studying Shakespeare in high school. Go ahead, throw that image up on the screen. You have Caesar’s betrayal. In fact, the famous phrase he uttered, according to Shakespeare, is “et tu brute.” And you, Brutus, you of all, I never thought you would betray me in this moment. Of course. Then we move forward a few years to the next image. This is Lancelot, Sir Lancelot, the top knight serving King Arthur. What does he do? He falls in love with Guinevere Arthur’s wife, betraying his closest guy. A little bit more forward in history, more relevant to American time here. This is Benedict Arnold. In fact, we might still call someone that who has betrayed especially a cause. Benedict Arnold was a general in the American army, and he switched back over to the British army. The ultimate betrayal going to the other side. Now, before we show this last image, … I really hesitated to show it because I know there’s going to be some sweaty palms, some anger, some frustration. But, you know, in fact, the other part of it was usually I only offend about half the crowd when I make this kind of joke, but I’m going to upset everyone with this one. Okay. Go ahead and show this next image right. Some people, maybe a few, felt betrayed by this individual. Can we go back to this prayer time? I think some people need to deal with some hard issues. It’s a game. Okay. Keep in mind, it’s a game played by kids. I know none of you heard any of that. But the point being, Mike, calm down, okay? The point being, we all have faced betrayal at times. Everyone has. If you’ve lived any amount of years, maybe it was a classmate at school on a very small thing. Maybe it was a family member, maybe a close friend that you thought was there for you no matter what. And then for some, even maybe it was a spouse. Now an ex spouse facing betrayal can be really hard, devastating. And it’s going to be really interesting today to see how did Jesus face betrayal? What did he do when he faced the ultimate betrayal of all those images? There’s none greater than what Jesus encountered. What did he do? How did he react to it? When we look at this passage, I think we’re going to see five ways, as I looked at it, that he responded to betrayal and how he led others through his betrayal. So we’re in John chapter 13, looking at verse 21, and if you don’t have a Bible, we’d love for you to have a copy of the Bible. They’re out in the connection corner, slip out there any time you want. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, nudge someone to you, ask them to grab one for you. But the page numbers on the screen are tied into that copy of the Bible. Out in the connection corner. I’m going to read starting at verse 21 and read a couple of versus to give us the setting here. John 13, verse 21 after saying these things, meaning last week we talked about him washing the disciples feet and he gave some teaching along with that and what it meant to serve and love one another. After saying those things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit and he testified Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me. The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. I think the very first thing we see here in the way Jesus responded to betrayal was just that He acknowledged the trouble. He acknowledged the reality that this is troubling. Go ahead and put up that first point on the screen. He acknowledged that this is difficult and we’ve talked about Jesus being both God and man, and he doesn’t try to hide the human side, the emotional side. In fact, this is the third time we’ve seen him say specifically, I’m troubled, I’m disturbed by this. My spirit is stirred up within me. We saw it with Lazarus, Chapter 11. We saw it in chapter 12, where he was already beginning to wrestle with his upcoming death in all three times, where he says, I’m troubled, it’s related to death, which I think is helpful for us to hear. It’s okay to be troubled by death. It’s not unspiritual to be upset by someone’s passing. This isn’t the way it was meant to be. Originally. Death was brought into the world through sin and rebellion. It should bring us sorrow. It’s okay. And Jesus starts by saying, I’m troubled by this. This bothers me. But also note the way he said it. If you look back at the verse, he said he was troubled in his spirit. And I think it’s important for us to recognize there’s many times in our life where there’s a challenge we’re facing. There’s something that troubles us. And usually, often times, almost always there’s a spiritual reality, a spiritual element, probably a deeper spiritual issue underneath that. I’ll give you an example of that In my life this week I was driving, had a number of people in the car with me and I wasn’t paying attention, almost pulled out right in front of another car. I mean, it was inches from them hitting me. And of course I slam on the brakes. Everybody’s jostled in the car and one person in the car says something just obviously spontaneously reacting to that. The fear of that, just saying, hey, oh, dad, be careful. Oh, I just gave away that. It was at least a child. We won’t get any more specific than that. There was no harm in it. It’s just a natural reaction. And of course, me my response is What do you think I’m doing? Of course I’m being careful. I’m slamming on the brakes for you. I just saved your life. Now, thankfully, we weren’t on our way to church and instead we were going to the library. The next best place to do that, right on the way to just perfectly setting the tone for a lovely family outing at the library. And, you know, I just thought, of course, you know, in the terms of the things we encounter in life, that can be rather mild. But I thought, why don’t I snap back immediately, get defensive immediately, What’s going on in my heart? It wasn’t that car’s fault. I almost I didn’t see them. I almost pulled out in front of them… what was going on, and I just had to do some heart work for a minute. No, you know what the problem was? You got into the car impatient, You got into the car upset about something else totally unrelated. You didn’t deal with that. And then you were rushing. You were hurried in your spirit. And I had to pause when we pulled up to the library and just say, You know what? I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me? Let’s pray for a reset. I don’t want to go in there. Still being touchy and upset. I want us to enjoy one of the most enjoyable places there is. By the way, you should check out your local library. I want to enjoy our time there together. I don’t want us to all be on edge. Let’s pause and pray. The issue was the trouble was deeply spiritual and on me to begin with. So he noted if he notices that and he says troubled in his spirit. And I love how the disciples react in this moment, they just start looking at one another, wondering, who is it? Who is the person? The interesting part of this is that no one immediately goes Judas. We all know it’s him. We’ve been waiting for you to point him out. Obviously, he’s the guy. None of them do that. They start looking at one another. In fact, in one of the other gospels, we get a really interesting account. Turn to Matthew 26:20. Some of the additional background information in Matthew 26. They don’t only start looking at one another. Look what they say. When it was evening, he reclined at the table with the twelve and as they were eating, he said, Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me. And they were sorrowful, … Matthew 26:20, which is on the screen. They were sorrowful, which I love hearing that they were sorrowful. Their first reaction wasn’t defensive. No way I’m betraying him. No, it startled them. They were sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, Is it I Lord? The first question they ask, Could it be me? Are you talking about me? Keep reading as to how all but one respond. They one after another say, Is it our Lord? He answered. He, who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The son of goes at Is it written to him? But woe to the man by the son of man is betrayed. It would have been better for that man if he had not been born. Look at how Judas responds. Judas, who would betray him, answered. Is it I, Rabbi, the only one that won’t call him Lord Rabbi, Teacher. In this moment, though, all the disciples except for Judas in their own heart. I think what this is pointing at is that they’re saying, could it be me? I hope it’s not me. Maybe it is. And I think it’s really important for every one of us to pause and recognize the reality that even though others have betrayed us and done awful things toward us, some of that capacity is in our own heart. Each of the disciples. Maybe it is me, I’m not sure willing to ask the Lord, Is it me? I think part of this may be part of the reason why we don’t see the disciples hating on Judas all throughout the rest of the Bible. I mean, his name comes up, but there’s an element of I didn’t betray him, but I sure abandoned him and it could have been me maybe. So glad it wasn’t. I know that capacity was in me. It’s really healthy to just take a step back and do that and not just walk around hating everybody that’s ever done you wrong, especially in church. I mean, if there’s anyone here that you just despise and can’t stand to be around, can’t stand to see, that’s a problem. That’s a big problem. And that’s not just my opinion. Look, throw this verse up on the screen. The 1 John 4:20 If anyone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar. And if you find yourself in that place with someone, I’d deal with that today. Don’t wait another day. Don’t carry around that anger and bitterness. And look, I get that there are people that you do need to create a healthy, appropriate distance from. I’m not talking about that. That takes wisdom. But I’m talking about deep seated anger, hatred, bitterness. Those two can’t coexist in the body of Christ. That’s a strong statement. He is a liar. I don’t want to be called a liar and I don’t want to harbor anger or bitterness toward anyone. One here. So the first thing Jesus does is he acknowledges the reality that betrayal is troubling. He doesn’t ignore it. It is difficult. Look at what happens next. The disciples are looking around at one another, wondering who did it. And some of them want to know more. We want to know more specifics. We want names here. Look at verse 23. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus’s side. So Simon Peter, motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, It is He whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it. So here we have this phrase used for the first time in the book of John, the one whom Jesus loved. Who’s that referring to? Thank you, John. To referring to the author of this book. Much like with modern authors, sometimes, especially with nonfiction, they’ll write themselves in, but they’ll say this this present author, the current author, they’ll use some other statement other than I or me. It’s just a way of creating a little bit of respectful distance from the content. But you see, John called himself the one who Jesus loved, and maybe at face value, you might feel like that’s a little arrogant, is it, Isn’t it, John? Almost like the one who Jesus really loved the others he tolerated. But I’m his favorite kid, you know? It’s like, Well, no, that’s actually not what John’s doing here. John’s doing the opposite. This is a great sign of humility, because who needs to remind themselves that they are loved by Jesus? Usually it’s those who don’t naturally feel that way. Peter probably didn’t have to go around reminding himself that he was loved by Jesus, you know, stereotyping Peter a little bit, but he seemed to really self-assured. But it’s those who go out. I don’t know. That’s when you need to claim it. No, I am loved by him. I’m deeply loved by him and cared for by him in ways I can’t even imagine. I remember reading a book in college “Blue Like Jazz.” Any of you remember that book or did you read it? It was real popular at that time by a guy named Donald Miller who was wrestling kind of writing out his own, wrestling with his faith. And he had hit a season where I don’t know about this Jesus guy. I see so many, you know, preachers or ministry leaders who maybe seem to be faking it don’t seem to be all in. So he wanted to meet with some well-known Christian leaders it and just see what did Jesus really mean to them. And he met with Bill Bright, who’s the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ Ministry. Julie and I served with the largest missions organization in the world, and he met with Bill Bright, and he just sat down and they asked him, Tell me what Jesus means to you. And it was several minutes for Bill could even- before Bill could even speak. He just wept, overwhelmed by thinking about how much Jesus loved him, the one whom Jesus loved. What a way to be described. What a picture of humility and what a picture of identity and deeply loved by him. Now notice what happens in this interaction. Peter kind of motions to him, Hey, whatever they had going between him and Peter, by the way, I knew I better not be the one. Go to Jesus and ask him. He won’t answer me. You know how siblings learn that pretty quick. Let’s end this one. The mom and dad, they’ll get an answer where the rest of us won’t. And Peter knew. Ask him. See if you can find out who it is. And notice the intimacy of this moment. I think, especially for some of the men in the room, this is rather uncomfortable. But you see, he’s sitting at Jesus’s side. But it even says here in the ESV footnote in the bosom of Jesus, I do not like that wording and it’s very uncomfortable. What does that even mean? You know, it’s got to be translated chest right up against him, and then he leans his head back against him. I mean, they are as close as you can get. I think that could be awkward for us as men in this room. You’ve never seen one of the elders come up and lay their head in my lap or something. Right. Hey, John, how’s it going? Let’s talk. You know, that would be weird. Even if I want to show affection to another man, we can hug. But it’s got to have an element of violence to it, right? We we start with a handshake, But we keep our arms between us, and then we’re. We’re smack at each other’s back pretty hard. You want the other person to really wonder if it was worth it or not. At the end. And we keep that hand here just in case I feel unsafe. I can push him away in any moment. You know, we’re not as comfortable in male friendship in this kind of situation. I’ve been overseas where men would walk down the street holding hands with their good friend in other countries. In fact, in some of those countries where men would walk down the streets holding hands together, showing their sign of friendship, it would have been inappropriate for a man and woman to walk down the street together, holding hands. That would have been an inappropriate display of public affection. So we look at this and we go, I don’t know what all is going on here. The point is they were very close. And John, probably in almost a whisper in the ear, Jesus, who are you talking about? Let me know. The second reality of this that I think is important for us to acknowledge that when Jesus deals with betrayal, he’s not going to drag every one into the midst of this mess. You know, when you’re dealing with betrayal, you don’t have to drag a whole world into it. It’s okay to keep it a private matter. That doesn’t mean you don’t tell anyone. You may need to get confidant, you may need to get wisdom, you may need to assess, is it me or am I a big part of this problem? That’s a healthy thing to do. But do that immediately, drag everyone else into it. Which is weird because when I first read this for years, I took this as… well. Let’s just keep reading, read a few more verses here and you’ll see Jesus had just said, It’s the one I’ll give this morsel of bread to. So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, What you’re going to do, do quickly. Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that because Judas had the money bag, Jesus was telling him, Buy what we need for the feast or that he should give something to the poor. So after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out and it was night. You know, I often thought of this story. I heard this and I thought, Could the disciples be more dull? It’s like Jesus is going, I’m about to give this piece of bread to the guy who’s going to betray me, Judas. Here it is. And everyone goes, Who are you talking about? Jesus? What’s he doing? I don’t understand what’s going on. But it wasn’t like that. Here’s John up against Jesus’s chest. Who’s going to betray you? I’ll show you what I give this to. No one knows. No one else knows. John doesn’t say anything. He’s probably to shocked Judas, which probably means Judas had a lot of trust. Judas? No, really don’t need to drag everyone else into the issue in the midst of it. The other warning here is that it says it was night is how this passage ends. We see this theme all throughout the book of John Light versus Darkness. In fact, in chapter 12, just a couple of Sundays ago, we talked about fight for the light in your life. Don’t stay in a place of darkness. And Judas intentionally moves towards darkness. He intentionally moves towards betraying Jesus. He intentionally opens up his heart to partner with Satan and let this be a warning. Don’t don’t allow a hint of evil into your life because the enemy will use it. Just a glimmer. We know it goes back to his greed, just a glimmer of evil. Walk carefully. Walk wisely in this world. I heard Tommy Nelson, a preacher. I like to listen to talk, He said he’s from Texas. He said, When I go out to West Texas into the rough part, I’ll wear boots. I wear tall boots because there are rattlesnakes. And if you go out there unwisely, you are inviting grave danger. Walk wisely. Be aware that this world is full of evil and don’t don’t play around with evil things. Do whatever it takes to get any hint of evil out of your life. So Judas has gone out and it’s night. And I think what we see here that’s really important for this third aspect of how Jesus responds to betrayal is that he sends out the betrayer. You know, to wrap up this whole section of verses where there’s the interaction, and he points out Judas, at least to John, and then sends him out. Jesus does send out the betrayer. There are times in the life of the church where it’s important to draw healthy boundaries. So right now, this meeting, this service is open to anyone. Anybody could have walked in here. We didn’t have a sign out front that said Christians only, you know, show us your Christian card on the way in or this political party or this sports team only. No, anyone. Anyone could come in. But to be a member of the church, that requires a little more focus, a little more clarity around what you believe, and do you really follow Christ or not? And you can be here and not be there, but you can’t be a member yet. And then if you want to be a leader, there’s another level of scrutiny and then a leader of leaders. We don’t just let the guy who just walked in off the street be an elder next week, even if they have an amazing, persuasive, charismatic personality and they seem to be the best leader on earth. No, look, there’s no hurry. We’re going to take time getting to know each other. I want to make sure that your character matches up with what Scripture says. There are appropriate places to draw boundaries in the life of the church and Jesus before he is starting to intentionally invest deeply in his disciples in the eleven- He sends out the one that’s not really a part of them. And that’s his third response to the betrayal. And then number four, look at verse 31 when he had gone out, Jesus said, Now is the son of man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify Him in himself and glorify Him all at once. And so in this last section of verses what happens? Jesus sends out Judas, and immediately he starts to give instructions to the remaining eleven because they’re going to need it. They’re going to need some wisdom. Some hard days are coming. In fact, I think the next two points of how Jesus responds to betrayal are the most important for us today. And the first thing he does here, they see that he is being betrayed. If they don’t realize it then, they will later. And his first response is to focus on God’s glory, which is his fourth response to betrayal. But in this moment, in his sermon to them, focus on God’s glory. In the midst of being betrayed, his first response is to say I’m going to be glorified and God is going to get so much more glory from this. And, you know, that’s not always easy to do in the moment, is it? You don’t immediately go, Thank you, Lord, for this hardship. I know this is going to bring you glory. I sure didn’t in the car the other day. You know, it’s not our natural reaction, but it’s a choice and it’s one Jesus makes in this moment and sets a model, sets a pattern for us. And I think I could go around this room to a number of you and you could share of moments where in the moment it seemed unbearable and you can look back and see how God got the glory, how he made you a better person. That doesn’t excuse how hard it was. That doesn’t excuse the sin of others. That’s not a Band-Aid. Just pasting over every issue around that. But it’s a truth. It’s a reality that in the moment of the betrayal, focus on his glory, not in a fake happy way, but in a way that says, God, I’m trusting you in the midst of this. That’s the first thing he says to them Focus on God’s glory and it’s about to come. You don’t really know what it’s about to come. This is for God’s glory. Focus on that. But then look at what else he says. Little children, yet a little while I’m with you, you will seek me, just as I said to the Jews. So now I also say to you where I am going, you cannot come. A new commandment I give you that you love one another, just as I have loved you. You also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. So Jesus has his eleven together. Judas has gone out. This sets up this long section of Scripture I mentioned last week the farewell discourse, the Upper Room discourse. This is one of the longest sections of teachings of Jesus we have in all the Scripture, and these are really the first few verses setting up the theme for it all. Here’s what I’m going to talk about, which I think is we’ve seen an important thing to do. If you knew you were going to die in probably now what is hours, maybe minutes. If you knew the end was that near before Judas comes back with the army in tow, you’d want to gather up those you’re closest to. You’d want to say a few things. There are some final words you want to leave with them. I did a funeral for a man a few months back. He knew the day was coming. He had been sick for years and in his final months he said, I don’t want to leave anything undone with anyone. And he began to call around to person after person after person and just say, Look, is there anything between us? Is there anything that I can make right? I don’t want there to be anything between us. My time here is not long. I don’t want to leave here having left any hint of bitterness or anger in anyone’s life as much as I am able to, can’t control all that. But I want to make things right. It was a powerful example to me to be able to stand in front of a crowd of loved ones and say, I am inspired by this guy’s example and Jesus is leaving them with some powerful last words and here’s what he leaves them with. Look back verse 33. He says, Little children that might be offensive to grown men, but at this time it would have been similar to how you might say my boys or my bro’s, very affectionate, a word that says, You guys are my closest guys out there. And he says to them, A new commandment I give to you that you love one another. So he’s going to give them a new commandment. And what he’s doing here, by the way, of these five ways Jesus approached betrayal in the midst of betrayal, he’s focusing outward. This is something for us to take away in the midst of this so many times. If you’re facing the challenge of a betrayal or an impending betrayal, you want to go inward. You want to say, No, I will never be hurt like that again. I will shut myself off from anyone that could hurt me. That doesn’t protect your heart. It does the opposite. It deadens your heart. It makes it atrophy. You’re never going to be able to perfectly protect against that. And Jesus says, I’ve got a new commandment for you. Love one another, love one another just as I have loved you. Just as I showed you Wash one another’s feet, serve one another, love one another. Now, when I first read that, I thought, How is this a new command? Jesus, this is confusing. You’ve been talking about love all throughout the Gospels. I mean, we can go back to Deuteronomy – Love the Lord, your God with all your heart. soul, mind and strength. Then in Leviticus 19, love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus reaffirms those. And Mark, Chapter 12. These are the greatest second greatest commandment you’ve been talking about Love. What do you mean new commandment? In this moment? I think there’s three ways as I studied, as I looked at a lot of different commentators, I think there’s three ways we can see this as a new commandment. What does he mean by a new commandment? There’s three aspects of that. First is that this is a new standard. Maybe you might use the word example. Now they have a new example in Christ. He just set this example for them. Be willing to do what no one else will do. Get down and wash the feet of others. There’s a new standard. It’s Christ. Second is a new covenant. If you look back in the Old Testament, in Ezekiel, Jeremiah, there was the promise of a day where God’s law would be written in our hearts. I’d take away your heart of stone, give you a heart of flesh. It will be a new day when no longer do I have to lean entirely on an external law. But the Law of Christ working through the Holy Spirit, will be within me. There’s a new covenant working within us. The power of Christ is working within us. Then I think that the third way this plays out, and specifically for this group at this time, there’s a new community, a new community, meaning in this moment he’s creating the church. Up until this time, you would have loved someone based on genealogy. If you’re a Jew also, then, hey, we’re in this together. I love you automatically. I don’t have a choice. It’s like family, whether I want to or not. We’re in this together. But now he’s brought to gather this rag tag group of guys who have nothing else in common, as many of us can say here, but the bond of the love of Christ is so much stronger than any other. In that way. It’s a new love. It’s a new community. And I think each of us here, many of us here have experienced this in different layers in life. I can say confidently that there have been times where I’ve experienced a new type of love. I mean, when I was little, I said, I said to my mom, I love you. And I did because she gave me food and hugs, warm blanket, whatever. I loved her. Still do, by the way. But then you meet that special someone and you realize, I’ve never felt anything like this before. Some call it love Sick. I say, What is this? This is love. I thought that was love. And you still love your mom? You do. But this is this is really different. It’s a different kind of love. This is a new love. But then there’s that day where for the first time, you hold. You know what I’m talking about. You hold that child in your hands and you say, I’ve never felt anything like this. I’ll do anything. Don’t let anybody get in between me and this child. And I still love my wife and I still love my mom. But this is different. This is a new love. And when Jesus comes to this community and he says, a new command I give to you, you thought you knew love before. This is a new love. Love one another like you’ve never experienced love one another through every betrayal and abandonment. Love one another through all else. Stick together. Hard times are coming. That’s what he’s calling us to do in this passage. A new commandment I give to you. And that’s our call as a church. Love one another. Let’s pray, God, we thank you that you love us. May we walk around today declaring it to be true, We are the ones whom Jesus loves. And as a result, because you love us, help us to love one another as you loved us. I pray today that this church, that Valley View, would be known throughout all of Southwest Louisville as a place where you are loved, where Jesus is loved, where we are loved by him and where we love one another. Well, we’re not perfect. We make mistakes. We’re not going to be loving to each other always. But our hope is to move towards love. Love like Christ, love, love with sacrificial love. I pray right now, specifically for everyone here that going into this week, there would be no hint of bitterness. There would be no point of anger or dispute with anyone else here. And where there is that we would move towards reconciliation and love. Give us wisdom, Lord, we love you. Amen.