It is an awesome responsibility to teach or to lead another person. Whether you are in the role of a parent, a teacher, or a mentor, it is a great privilege to teach another.
But what do we do when things go wrong? What do we do when a student turns away from what they have learned? When they reject the teacher? We can blame ourselves, but we cannot change another person’s decisions.
You could be a perfect teacher, and yet some would still turn away. The best teacher who ever walked on the earth had a student walk away from him.
That student did more than turn away from him. He turned him in to the authorities to be arrested, tortured, and then executed.
Jesus had intensely taught his disciples for three and a half years. They all saw him teach, work miracles, and raise the dead. Each of them were able to teach and do miracles themselves. Eleven of them would follow Jesus to their own death, yet one refused to believe.
Jesus was at the final Passover dinner with his disciples when he became greatly disturbed. To the shock and amazement of everyone in the room, Jesus announced, “One of you will betray me!”
The traitor had hidden himself so well that no one suspected him. Instead, they were all asking, “It’s not me, is it?” They suspected themselves more than they suspected the betrayer.
No one suspected Judas. He was the cultured and educated one. They trusted him with all of their money. He cared for the poor.
But the devil had already put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus (see here). Judas was already convinced that he no longer wanted any part of Jesus. Unknown to any of the other disciples, Judas had already secretly made plans with the chief priests to arrest him (see here).
You may already be familiar with Judas, but the surprising part of this section is how Jesus treats him. Jesus knew that Judas has rejected him and that he was about to betray him, yet how does Jesus act?
He washes his feet. He gives him the place of honor at the table. He passes the food to him, giving him the best piece of food (a gesture of friendship).
This was intensely upsetting for Jesus. He felt the agony of being betrayed by a close friend (see here). Yet even at the last minute, he showed nothing but love and friendship to Judas. He took every opportunity to try and rescue Judas.
But it is too late for Judas. After the last gesture of friendship, Satan took full control of Judas. Jesus told him to go and do it quickly. Judas knew that his game is up and he quickly leaves.
John’s final summary is as much poetic as it is factual: “It was night”.
It was night for Jesus. He would face the agony of separation from the Father as he takes the guilt of the whole world.
It was night for the disciples. They are on the darkest night of their lives. Before daylight, their master would be arrested, tortured, and headed for a Roman cross. They will all be scattered in terror.
But most of all, it was night for Judas. Jesus would rise again. The disciples would be brought back together. But for Judas, there would never again be light.
Jesus is very clear. He will be arrested and killed according to God’s plan, but Judas was no machine. Judas rejected and betrayed Jesus out of his own free will. Both Matthew and Mark quote Jesus’ statements about Judas, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
- Jesus knew about Judas, but never stopped trying to rescue him. Don’t stop trying to rescue those who do not believe.
- Jesus never pulled back his friendship from Judas, even when he knew that Judas would betray him! Don’t pull back from friendships because of how they might fail you — they will! Only God will not fail you.
- You are in God’s care, even the darkest times! Rely on God when it is night.
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