Holy Spirit, prepare my heart and mind to receive new understanding and new truth from You now.
Read John 13:18-30
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What’s the greatest act of love you’ve ever witnessed? Remember it, and reflect on what it was that struck you about it at the time.
Verse 20 follows on from yesterday’s passage, and looks ahead to verse 35: Jesus’ disciples will be marked out by a completely different way of being in the world, pointing to the love of God himself! And now we see another amazing instance of that love, in practice. Jesus reveals with tears (21) that one of the disciples will betray him. As the meal goes on, a whispered conversation takes place between Jesus and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (23), who is lying at the table close to Jesus, possibly facing him rather than with his back half-turned, as would have been conventional. (The NIV translation, “leaning back against Jesus” in verse 25 preserves the traditional seating plan!)
Jesus whispers that he will give a piece of bread to the betrayer (26). This is more than just a secret signal: such a gift was an expression of respect and love from the host to a specially honored guest–and this is surely genuine. Jesus loves Judas. Psalm 41:9, which Jesus says is to be fulfilled in his betrayal, talks of “my close friend, someone I trusted.” He doesn’t expose or denounce Judas, but accepts and honors him with the gift. D.A. Carson suggests that, because Jesus can give him the bread so easily, Judas may already be in the place of honor on Jesus’ left.
What love! Judas receives the bread but not the love, and he falls into Satan’s grip. His thought becomes a determination (2), and Jesus gently encourages him to act as he will. Scripture must be fulfilled, but it must have been heart-wrenching for Jesus to watch Judas go out into the night. This is a supernatural instance of the servant-love which, a moment before, led Jesus to wash Judas’s feet, knowing that he nursed betrayal in his heart.
How do you feel as you read about this love? Let it shape your prayer as you receive Jesus’ love for yourself.
Lord Jesus, so often I live my life doing what comes naturally. But You have called me to do what comes supernaturally–to love. I want to love as You do, in Your way.
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