July 20, 2014

When Satan Entered Into Judas

Speaker: Bret Rogers Series: The Gospel According to John Passage: John 13:21–30

Sermon from John 13:21-30 by Bret Rogers, Pastor
Delivered on July 20, 2014

We’re going to make verses 21-30 our meditation this morning, a very painful passage to read in light of the preciousness of Jesus and the hatefulness of Judas, who betrays Jesus under the Devil’s influence. But at the same time, I see very powerful truth to take away from these words.

Thanksgiving for Time Off

Before I read, though, I do want to say thank you to this congregation for giving me the last three Sundays off from preaching while Rachel and I welcomed Abbi into the family. Your help in this transition, your support behind reducing the strain that the demands of ministry often place on the family, your realistic expectations from your elders, your assistance with meals has all been an immense blessing to us—not to mention the opportunity to sit under Dan’s preaching through Habakkuk. I was very encouraged; very encouraged by all of you contributing in your own ways; very encouraged to see the church being the church. I know Rachel has been very thankful as well for your kindness.

Now, let’s read our passage together; and what I’d like to do is actually begin reading in verse 18—it’s been a while since we’ve been in John; so let’s give our passage some context—and then work our way down through verse 31. We won’t look much beyond verse 30, but I do want us to end on the note struck in verse 31 about Jesus’ glorification even in the mist of darkness. Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet; he’s told them they’d be blessed to imitate his sacrificial love; and now he speaks of the betrayal by Judas. Verse 18…

18I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” 21After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, 24so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. 31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

What Jesus Does for His New Community

Several things I want us to see this morning; all of them revolve around something Jesus does for his new community of followers. I’ve mentioned this before, but let me say again that by moving from chapter 12 into chapter 13, we’ve encountered a major shift in John’s Gospel. For the next five chapters Jesus isn’t dealing with the Jewish crowds at large; he isn’t dealing with the religious leaders in the public square; he’s dealing only with his disciples privately. He’s preparing them as his new community where old Israel failed.

But something more must happen to prepare the new community, before they’re commissioned into the world. You see, there’s still a devil among them (6:70-71). Even one of the Twelve is still dancing with the devil in the secret places of his soul; and beneath the surface, he’s no true follower of Jesus. So, as part of Jesus’ preparation of the new community, as part of his care for the other eleven, as part of his protection of them, we see at least four actions by Jesus—four things Jesus does for the sake of his new community. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, then you’re part of that new community. We call it the church.

1. Jesus Provides His New Community with an Eyewitness to the Truth

First of all, Jesus provides his new community with an eyewitness to the truth. The disciples are absolutely stunned when Jesus announces that one of them will betray Jesus (13:21). All they can do is look at each other with this great uncertainty hanging in the air (13:22). Nobody in the room knows the truth about the betrayer except Jesus. But he doesn’t keep the truth hidden from them, does he? No, he reveals the truth—it’s just that the way he reveals the truth is through the eyewitness testimony of the apostle John. John is the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” and he’s the only one who knows firsthand why Jesus dipped the morsel of bread and gives it to Judas. He knows firsthand, because Jesus told John what he was doing, while John was laying in Jesus’ bosom.

That’s what it means when verse 25 says he “was leaning back against Jesus;” he rested his head against his bosom. It’s the same language we find in chapter 1 applied to Jesus’ close relationship with God the Father. Remember that one? “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side [literally, “in the bosom of the Father”], he has made him known.” So the closeness of Jesus to his Father uniquely qualifies him to testify about the Father—he has witnessed his glory firsthand. The same can be said of the apostle John in relation to Jesus: his closeness to Jesus uniquely qualifies him to testify about the truth. Jesus told John what he was doing: “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” And then John spells out exactly what he witnessed: “So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.”

This is very kind of Jesus. He doesn’t just send Judas out and leave everybody in the dark. He tells one of the eleven—namely, John—so that after all these things play out, he can tell the rest of them the truth about what’s going on and why it took place the way it did. And John wouldn’t be giving them just a lucky guess on why Jesus gave Judas the bread; he’d be giving them the truth from the mouth of the One who knows all things and who sees all things about us.

Rest Assured that You Have the Truth

This should be a great comfort to you, too, that when you read, not just this passage but the whole of John’s Gospel, you’re reading the words of an eyewitness. They are true. John ends his gospel with, “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”

I’m often struck at how quickly people will believe a second- and sometimes third-hand report from people—whether through a newspaper or the internet—but then just outright dismiss the eyewitness accounts of the Gospels. I once asked a skeptic at Starbucks why he was more quick to believe the words of the newspaper in his hand than we was to believe the Bible; and the conclusion we eventually came to was that he was simply morally opposed to the Bible’s message—regardless of how much evidence I provided. He agreed and didn’t seem to care.

And that’s the case for everybody who rejects the testimony of the eyewitnesses in Scripture: ultimately, they find it morally distasteful. Church, these are not embellished fairy tales. The apostles bear witness to what they saw and heard and touched regarding eternal life (cf. John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-2), and Jesus has been kind to give us a heads up on the truth. He hasn’t left the church in the dark. He told his disciples who he was; he showed them everything that was going on; and they wrote it down for our instruction by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21).

2. Jesus Endured Trouble to Help His New Community

Secondly, Jesus endured trouble to help his new community. If you remember when we looked at verses 18-19, we saw how much Jesus was in control of everything going on with the betrayal. He was not going to the cross as a mere victim of circumstances, he was laying his life down in obedience to his Father’s plans (cf. 10:18)—plans that were already mapped out in the Old Testament (13:18), and plans that only Jesus had the authority to unfold (13:19).

And even as the betrayal of Judas plays out, it’s very clear who’s in control of the situation—it’s Jesus. He announces that the betrayal is about to take place: “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (13:21). He then identifies the betrayer in verse 26 by giving Judas the piece of bread. And even when Satan himself enters Judas, it’s neither Satan nor Judas who’s ultimately controlling the situation; it’s still Jesus: “What you’re going to do, do quickly.” But even in the midst of such a remarkable display of Jesus’ sovereign majesty—his foreknowledge of all things (6:64, 71); his control over all things (13:3)—we’d be missing something remarkable about our Savior if we overlooked the note in verse 21 that “after saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit.”

We’re right as a church to stress the absolute sovereignty of God in all things; but let’s guard ourselves from becoming so one-sided in our theology that we become less than biblical. Jesus is sovereign, but that doesn’t make him some cold-hearted, stoic Savior, who doesn’t identify with the sorrows felt by human beings, with the deep grief caused by ungrateful friends and betrayal. Part of the Son of God’s redeeming work was to take to himself a human nature and feel what we feel, and identify with our grief, and carry in his body the sorrows that plague all humanity.

Isaiah 53 says that he’s a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and that sorrow and grief wasn’t limited to the cross. Jesus’ suffering on the cross certainly brought all his sorrows to their climax; but his entire earthly ministry was drenched with trouble. Just in John’s Gospel alone, we’ve seen how much he suffered from the rejection of his own people, the Jews; how much he endured from the false accusations of the Pharisees; how much the top religious authorities wanted him dead; how fickle the faith of his own disciples really was; how much inner turmoil sin and death brought upon the One who had created all things good. And now another trouble we see added here as he faces the betrayal of a close friend, Judas, and as he looks in the face what that betrayal will ultimately cost him, his own life.

Now, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is without sin when he feels these troubles (Heb 4:15). He’s not controlled by his emotions like we are; his emotions are always in line with his perfections. But as a man, God’s Son still knows grief, trouble, sorrow, distress, forsakenness, suffering, betrayal, loneliness—and he chose to endure all these things for you, to demonstrate the extent of God’s love for you.

It’s rather unthinkable when you consider the holiness of God’s Son and the rottenness of our rebellion against him—when you consider the preciousness of Jesus and the way our sins trample his beauty under foot. If we deserve anything, it’s an eternity of trouble under his wrathful response to our sin; it’s an unceasing anguish of soul tormented in outer darkness away from his glorious presence. And yet, in mercy, God’s Son chose to identify with our humanity and suffer unspeakable trouble without sinning, so that he might be offered up as a perfect sacrifice to remove the eternity of trouble facing our wicked souls. Jesus enduring trouble is part of God’s extravagant love.

Jesus Endured Trouble to Demonstrate God’s Love

He endured trouble to demonstrate that despite the innumerable troubles he faced, there was not a single one that would keep him from dying for you, not a single one that would make him turn his back on you. Not even the agonizing cries in the garden when the weight of God’s wrath stood on the horizon would thwart his love for you. Every step of Jesus’ earthly ministry should remind you that God’s love will not fail you. It didn’t fail you amidst some of the most severe troubles faced by our Savior—climaxing in the cross—and it will certainly not fail you now with that same Savior risen from the dead, victorious over every trouble known to man. He entered the troubles—the greatest of them being the darkness of death itself under God’s wrath—and rose victorious from the grave to ensure that all who trust in him will one day have all their troubles removed, because all their sin will be removed, and every tear will be wiped from their eyes in his kingdom of peace.

Jesus Endured Trouble To Be Your Ever-Present Help

He also endured trouble so that until that day comes, you can come to him with your troubles, your loneliness, your maltreatment, your forsakenness, your ungrateful friends, and find grace to help you in time of need. Heb 4:15-16, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” You want to hang on to something practical this morning? Jesus opened the door of heaven for you through all his troubles. Draw near to God in your troubles, and God will be your help. He will not be your help apart from Jesus. But if you come to him through Jesus, he is for you.

What a great encouragement for the mom whose husband and children show little thanksgiving for her day-long labors of love! She can cast her burdens on the Lord in the midst of everybody’s complaints and sour attitudes, and find the grace to stand against temptation and keep loving as Christ loved her. Mothers, hear this word from Heb 12:3, “Jesus endured hostility from sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”

What a great encouragement for the new believer in Christ who loses his friends because of his new-found love for Jesus! Christ is still his help, even when friends walk away. Christ stands beside you as one who identifies with forsakenness by friends—even forsakenness under God’s wrath—so that you would gain God himself as your forever-companion. And if God is for you, who can be against you?

What a great encouragement for the wife or husband whose spouse has caused so much turmoil in the soul! You can go to the sovereign Jesus without questioning if he really knows what you’re dealing with. He not only knows your turmoil—his own spouse, Israel, betrayed him too (John 1:9-11; 12:36-43)—but he’s already done something about it, so that regardless of what the next thirty years may bring, he’s guaranteed you a trillion years of the best marriage relationship the universe will ever know—that of Christ and his bride.

What a great encouragement for the one whose boss couldn’t care less about you, or your family, or your weekends, or your vacation time! Jesus endured similar hardships, not to purchase you escape from your difficult work environment, but to give you free access to the very presence of God while in your difficult work environment.

And what a great encouragement this is for us as we engage the people in White Settlement more intentionally with the gospel. Knowing this about our Savior prepares us to endure the betrayal of people who may just want to use us for their own ends. It prepares us to endure the rejection of our love, and then find grace to help us continue loving in the face of temptations to quit loving. Even if numbers on Sunday night stay low; even when we see few people right now responding to the gospel; even if only a handful of folks show up this week to VBC, we have nothing to complain about before our Savior. He endured similar rejection, so that you would not faint, so that you would be full of more love to extend to others.

Whatever your troubles may be or whatever troubles you may encounter, Jesus is no stranger to them. God’s Son became a man to identify with them and then do something about them through his life, death, resurrection, and return. Such extravagant love has to move us to keep pressing on in the Christian life, despite what troubles may come our way. So, keep this in mind as you go about your day and your various ministries to others: Jesus suffered trouble for his new community; and if you believe in him today, you are part of his new community.

3. Jesus Purges What Is Satanic from His New Community

Third, Jesus purges what is Satanic from his new community. In verse 27, Judas takes the morsel from Jesus, and then Satan enters into Judas. Now there’s no reason to see this possession as something undermining Judas’ will—as if to say that Judas is merely the devil’s puppet. We’re told in verse 2 that the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus (cf. Luke 22:3). In 12:6, we’re told that Judas was a thief—he treasured money more than he treasured Christ. That’s certainly Satanic. In 8:40-44, we see that the desire to kill Jesus is the result of being children of the devil, and desiring to do what your father likes to do. Judas does the same here. And then in 6:70, Jesus already made it clear that Judas was in cahoots with the devil.

In other words, Satan entered into Judas because Judas wanted him to. On the day of judgment, Judas will not be able to excuse himself with “the devil made me dot it.” He had opened the door of his heart to the devil’s temptations long before this possession took place. The devil had been feeding him lies, and Judas started believing them. The devil had tempted him with all that money could buy, and Judas found 30 pieces of silver more valuable than the God of infinite riches. Jesus told Judas that joy was to be found in sacrificially serving others, but Judas believed that Satan’s way of putting one’s self first is better. The result was Satan entering Judas to rule the whole of his inner man like a tyrant, as J. C. Ryle put it. So (Gk. “therefore”), Jesus sends him out from the Twelve.

And it’s at this point that he tells them what must characterize the new community. Look at verse 34, “A new commandment I give to 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 [you eleven] are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus’ new community is to be characterized by lovers not liars.

No Room for the Satanic in the Church of Jesus

There’s no room for the Satanic in the church of Jesus Christ—no tolerance for people who dance with the devil Monday through Saturday and show up Sunday to make good impressions; no tolerance for folks who give the appearance of “being in” without loving Jesus from within. This is why we do our best to maintain a regenerate church membership and practice church discipline when somebody proves with their words or deeds that they don’t really love Jesus. It’s why church discipline is often spoken of in Scripture as handing one over to Satan—we are turning unrepentant people over to the kingdom of darkness that they prefer, outside the protection of God’s people and the grace of the gospel, in hopes that they might remember Jesus’ gracious rule as opposed to Satan’s tyrannical domination.

The Church Must Fight the Good Fight of Faith

This is why we must remain aware of Satan’s devices (2 Cor 2:11), and take up the shield of faith in Christ (Eph 6:15), and resist the devil, firm in our faith (1 Pet 5:9), and pray to the One who is stronger in heaven (John 14:30). The devil still roams about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8), and we must not open the door to him like Judas did. We must not entertain his wicked lies like Judas did. We were chosen for something infinitely greater, weren’t we? Jesus tells the remaining eleven disciples in 15:16, “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” We must fight with all vigilance against temptation and sin, because we are different than Judas! We were chosen for deliverance, not destruction; for joy, not jealousy; for love, not licentiousness; for wonder, not worldliness; for beauty, not betrayal.

So, please hold fast to Jesus and strengthen your fight of faith. Jesus sent out Judas to form a new community under his perfect care, which we go on to witness in chapters 14-17. He didn’t send Judas out for us to follow Judas. He sent Judas out to protect us, and keep us following Jesus. In fact, the whole reason why any of the eleven stay with Jesus in the first place is Jesus. Judas wasn’t the only one to encounter Satan’s temptations. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have [all of] you [Gk. plural], [so] that he might sift [all of] you like wheat [just like he did Judas], but I have prayed for you [Peter], that your faith may not fail.” The power and prayers of Jesus stand behind the eleven who don’t betray Jesus. He has kept them in his power for a different purpose—that they might enjoy his presence in his community forever.

And the same is true if you’re trusting Christ today. Consider that you’re not better than Judas. Eph 2:2 says you came into this world, following the prince of the power of the air. Without Jesus, we’d all walk out with Judas. But he has prayed for us and worked to redeem us from Satan’s grip. Jesus has prayed for you to overcome the devil through his power; and his prayers will not fail you because his cross will not fail you. Let that move your soul to say “no” to ungodliness and unrighteousness and to escape temptation by laying hold of the One who already has hold of you, Jesus Christ. Do not forget that this present world has a ferocious devil. Revelation 12:17 says he’s a furious dragon, who makes war on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Watch and pray to keep from his hateful assaults against your soul; and then set your dependence on Jesus who overcomes his onslaughts of darkness.

4. Jesus Dies to Rescue His New Community from Darkness

Which leads us to one last thing that Jesus does for his new community: Jesus dies to rescue his new community from darkness. In reading this passage, we’ve actually entered the cosmic drama that’s been unfolding ever since the devil declared war against God’s Messiah and brought the entire human race under his influence. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, followed the devil’s lies in the Garden, their rebellion brought every generation since into the power of sin and the punishment of death—two things the devil uses to control his kingdom of darkness, sin and death.

Satan tempts people with sin and blinds them with sin and even uses their guilt to accuse them before God and send them spiraling into hopeless despair (Zech 3:1; Col 2:13-15). And since death stands as a judicial sentence on humanity for their sin, the devil even holds this threat over people’s heads to get them to do his bidding (Heb 2:14). So, sin, death, and the devil are all linked in this world of darkness that opposes God and his Messiah—the devil’s work is sin; sin has gripped humanity and we stand guilty for it; and therefore we all face death.

None of this was outside God’s control of course, and God had even revealed his plan to deal with the problem of sin, death, and the devil right from the start. The promised plan from Gen 3:15 onward was that one day a woman like Eve would give birth to a Son; and that Son would crush the devil’s head. He would undo his wicked works and destroy his kingdom once and for all. That Son was born to a virgin named Mary, and his name is Jesus Christ. As John puts it elsewhere, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

But here’s how Jesus deals the decisive blow to the devil—he subjects himself to his darkness, in order to overthrow it for his people. He doesn’t dodge the darkness; he meets the darkness head on and willingly lets our sins and the death we deserved and the devil’s wicked schemes, all swallow him up on the cross. When verse 30 says, “And it was night,” John has more in mind than just giving us the time of day it was when Judas betrayed Jesus. He also means that the night had finally come when the Light of the world would be snuffed out (John 1:5; 8:12; 9:4; 11:10; 12:35; cf. Luke 22:53).

That’s why verse 31 brings in the note about Jesus’ death once again: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Jesus’ glorification is his death on the cross—we know this (12:23, 28). The whole world system of sin and death and Satanic darkness—which we could never escape by our own strength—would swallow up Jesus on the cross and put him in the tomb, but only for three days. Why? Because he alone had the strength to overcome the darkness. He alone was destined to win. He alone was qualified for the job. He suffered the penalty for sin, slew the power of sin, entered the prison of death, shattered its chains, and nullified Satan’s power over all his people forever (Rom 16:20; Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15).

The cross is the darkest moment in world history, and yet in it we find the brightest triumph of all history—God almighty defeating sin, death, and the devil for everybody who would trust him. The Serpent of old may have bruised Jesus’ heel on the cross, but his head lies crushed beneath the feet of the risen King of kings. Satan cannot win. He can still make life pretty miserable in this age for God’s people, but he remains a defeated foe, and we know his end is in the Lake of Fire.

Draw Strength from the Victorious One

We also know our end, because of the work of Jesus. If we belong to Jesus, victory over the enemy is ours forever. Church, here’s where you need to draw your strength every day you wake up. You will not survive unless you’re drawing from the One who is infinitely stronger than you are. We will not be string from a mere ‘get-it-together’ sort of self-dependence, or an escape to this or that comfort or mind-numbing entertainment. We will only be strong through a union and encounter with the person of Jesus himself who stands victorious for his people and delights to tell them the truth about what he’s done for them and what he’s going to do for them.

I fear that some of us have grown very weak in the fight of faith, because we’re looking to the wrong sources for our strength—whether that be in our own abilities, or our own cleverness, or our own strivings after comfort in this world, or our own avenues of escape through social media and endless entertainment options. If you turn to your own devices to wage war against the enemy, you will be like Israel going into battle without God’s blessing—the enemy will have you.

But if your hope is in Christ, if you put on his armor, if you stand in the strength of his might, then you will be well equipped. That doesn’t mean the battle will get easier. If anything, it will put a big target on your back. That’s what happens when you’re transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. The devil doesn’t rage against people already deceived; he rages against those who look like their older brother, Jesus Christ. So, it won’t be an easier fight, but it will be a victorious one, because Jesus wins in the end. His cross and resurrection already guarantee it and his return will finish it.

So when you rise in the morning, step on the Serpent’s head early. Ask Jesus for his help before you even before you hit the button on your alarm clock. Then ask Jesus for his help again to help you quit hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock. Then get some truth in your mind, so that you will be equipped to discern the enemy’s schemes; and memorize promises from Jesus’ word to help you resist the devil. And then trust Jesus to fight for you in everything. Even when you don’t understand what’s going on or why this or that is happening to you.

The disciples didn’t understand everything that was happening with Judas. Not all of them knew why Jesus told Judas to leave yet (13:28-29). But that didn’t mean Jesus wasn’t fighting for them. Even when they were unaware, Jesus was working out their salvation perfectly, not missing a single thing—even with Judases and devils in the mix. Jesus will not miss a single thing with you either. If you belong to him, he will be faithful to deliver you. Look to him always, and not to yourself. He is the victorious one.

Moreover, take every advantage of the new community that he established, the church. Jesus established the church to help you persevere in the faith, to help you say no to temptation, to help you overcome the devil’s schemes. Don’t let a day pass without encouraging one another in the truth of God’s word, so that we may not be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin.

other sermons in this series