Betrayal – John 13:21-38

Have you ever been betrayed by someone you love? Has there ever been someone who turned out to not be who you thought they were? We have all experienced betrayal in one way or another. Here in John 13:21-38, we see the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. As we study this passage, there are several things to make note of.

Judas was a hypocrite. Contrary to what some may think, Judas was never a believer. He played the part, but, he was never a true follower of Christ. He was close to Jesus. He was a part of the organization of the disciples. He was the treasurer of the group. He was trusted and held in high esteem by the other disciples. Yet, his heart had never been changed. He went through the motions, he put on a good show, but, he had never been saved. It is sad to see someone who is so close to the Lord, yet, so far away. Unfortunately, many churches across America today are filled with Judas’. There are those who look like Christians, talk like Christians, even act like Christians, yet, they are as lost as lost could be. There are many who have religion but they have no relationship with Jesus. You may have joined the church. You may have been baptized. You may have served in the church. But, do you know Jesus? Do you truly believe?

Hypocrites must transform or transfer. Verse 30, John makes a very telling statement. He says that when Judas left the room it was night. “John’s little phrase “and it was night” carries a tremendous impact when you remember that light and darkness are important spiritual images in his Gospel. Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12), but Judas rejected Jesus and went out into darkness; and for Judas, it is still night! Those who do evil hate the light (John 3:18–21). Our Lord’s warning in John 12:25–26 went unheeded by Judas—and it goes unheeded by lost sinners today, people who will go where Judas went unless they repent and trust the Savior.”[1] Those who fail to trust in Jesus and believe on Him for their salvation will be eternally lost in darkness. Their only hope is that they be transformed by the glorious Gospel of Jesus before it is too late. Look at Romans 1:16. The Gospel of Jesus has the power to transform your life. Those who are hypocrites, those who are just playing a game, can be saved by the power of the Gospel. No matter who you are, you can be changed. When you by faith repent and believe on the Lord Jesus your life can be totally transformed.

On the other hand, if a hypocrite refuses to be transformed, they are transferred into darkness. In other words, there comes a point when transformation is no longer possible. Judas was given multiple opportunities to believe, yet, he continued to live a lie. There came a point in Judas’ life when there was no turning back. He had gone too far. My friend, do not let that happen to you. Give your life to Jesus before it’s too late. Your eternal destiny is not something to play around with.

When hypocrites transform or transfer, life and truth is revealed. Warren Wiersbe says, “The instant Judas was gone, the atmosphere was cleared, and Jesus began to instruct His disciples and prepare them for His crucifixion and His ultimate return to heaven. It was after Judas’ departure that He instituted the Lord’s Supper, something that Judas as an unbeliever certainly could not share. Judas was out in the night, controlled by the prince of darkness, Satan; but Jesus was in the light, sharing love and truth with His beloved disciples. What a contrast!”[2] This can happen in the life of the church. When you have people that are just going through the motions and their heart has not truly been changed by the Gospel, then they become more of a hindrance than a help. Sometimes, there are those who will never change, and it is a relief when they get out of the way. I am blessed to pastor a great church. I have seen people who have grown tremendously in their walk with God. I have seen people who, in the past, were a hinderance. But now, they are being transformed and instead of being a hinderance, they are a tremendous asset. Jesus was able to teach the rest of his disciples more effectively, when Judas got out of the way. It was after Judas left that Jesus was able to say, “Now is the Son of man glorified…”

The test of a true disciple is love. In verses 34-35, Jesus says that people will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another. What is the difference between those who are just playing a game and those who are true believers? The difference is seen in their love for one another. A true disciple of Jesus will have a genuine love and concern for other believers. I am proud to pastor a church that is known for its love. When you walk into this place, you feel the love that people have for one another. My friend, this is how every church should be. There should be an overwhelming sense of love for each other. This love is seen in our commitment to one another and in our ministry to one another.

Even true believers can betray Jesus by their actions. Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows he will deny Him three times. Unfortunately, there are times when even the best of Christians betray Jesus. How do we betray Jesus?

  1. By our silence. When we do nothing to share the Gospel. When we just silently go throughout our lives and never tells anyone about Jesus, then we are betraying Him.
  2. By our sin. When we allow unconfessed sin in our lives and we refuse to repent of our sin, then we are guilty of betraying our Lord.
  3. By our shame. When we are embarrassed or afraid to speak His name, we are betraying Jesus.

My Friend, don’t be a Judas. Believe on the Lord Jesus today while you still have the chance. Dear Christian, don’t be like Peter and deny the Lord. We have all experienced the pain of being betrayed. Imagine the pain we cause Jesus when we betray Him by our actions.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 348). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 348). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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