The Last Supper And Jesus’ Betrayal (john 13:21-36)

15159465421 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.

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The very thought that someone from his most intimate circle of disciples could betray him gave Jesus what the Gospel calls “trouble in his spirit.” Judas Iscariot was so trusted hat no one looked his way. They looked around with bewilderment.

One of the ways we know Judas was trusted by the twelve is because he was the one responsible for the disciple’s treasury. The money bag was guarded from thievery and bandits by Judas Iscariot, which may suggest that the word “Iscariot” was etymologically connected to the word sicarii. The sicarii was a Jewish ultra-zealot terrorist group operating in Judea that leveled blow after blow to the Roman occupation and their supporters. It is possible that Judas was a former sicarii. (They were largely men of principled convictions and excellent fighting skills. Judas was not entrusted with the money because he could count better than the other disciples. Had this been the case, Mathew, the former tax-collector, would have been chosen.)

23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,

In a world where tables were on the same level as the floor, the disciples partook of their food reclining (almost prostrate) around the area where food was served. One of the disciples was this mysterious person who is called “the beloved disciple.” There have been various theories put forth as to the identity of this disciple. (None fully convincing). He was most likely the author of this otherwise anonymous Gospel. (Read more HERE).

24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.

Notice the level of detail that the Gospel gives. It can best be explained by the author (in opposition to Luke’s account) being an eyewitness to the narrated events. He remembers the small points, like the beloved disciple motioning to Jesus to get his attention during the meal where no doubt the disciples were loudly talking.

25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus 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.

We can almost feel the tension. Jesus speaks of his betrayal by one of the disciples. The beloved disciple asked him quietly to show him who would betray him. Jesus answered just as quietly: “I will show you now”. (It was customary to take a piece of bread and dip it in something tasty and give it directly to another person nearby.) It was the perfect way to tell the beloved disciple something in such a way that no one would guess what Jesus was really doing.

27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some 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. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

As Jesus extended his hand to give the peace of bread to Judas Iscariot he told him out loud that he should hurry up. Jesus had routinely given Judas assignments, so it looked like nothing unusual had taken place.

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’

It is intriguing that while we normally ascribe the term glorification to Jesus only after his resurrection, Jesus does so in advance of the events. It seems that Jesus viewed betrayal, death, resurrection and ascension as one package, so much so that at the time when the events that ultimately led to his death and resurrection began, he was already able to say: “Now is the Son of Man glorified”.

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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This was intended for of all faithful Christ-followers everywhere and at all times (and rightly so) but originally it was in reference to the 12 apostles. How you may ask? If Jesus was appointing new heads of the tribes of Israel and as such was renewing Israel’s hope; when could we expect there to be some correlation with the narratives of the 12 heads of the tribes of Israel. One of the foundational stories of the sons of Jacob was the story of Joseph’s near-killing and eventual being sold into slavery in Egypt. One can hardly speak of anything more unloving than the heads of Israel’s key family attempted murder of their brother. In our text, here, at the foundation of the renewed Israel through the twelve new heads/apostles, Jesus begins by commanding them to love one another. This is indeed how their authority as true disciples of Christ would be recognized by those who are true Israel.

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Peter’s commitment would soon be tested. Jesus told Peter that when the time would come, Peter would deny him. That time was rapidly approaching. One of the reasons Jesus said this was because he already knew Judas Iscariot was on his way to the Temple to betray Jesus’ location to the authorities for his immediate arrest.

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  1. ginette kelley

    thanks Kat
    i understand now your confusion, even as Christians we still should obey the ‘law’ as Gods requirements for all His people Jew and Gentile, unfortunately Paul is often misunderstood when he is wrongfully quoted as saying that gentiles do not have to be observant of the Mosaic Law, but this said more about circumcision ( the Jewish Patriachal law) of new believers (male) in Christ and even to this day when a male child is born parents are asked if they want their son circumcised, and not for religious reasons but for health reasons its still a good idea although i hear in California they are trying to get it banned as genital mutilation, a sorry situation for many males unable to have sex without surgery and I know Abraham did it to himself as part of his covenant with God but it must surely have hurt and the risk of infection in an elderly male obvious, so take heart few of us at sometime in our life break one or more of the commandments you are not alone, hope we get to chat again ginette

  2. ginette kelley

    hello Kat,
    thank you for your contribution to this forum, i understand the part about works because most people quote this in reference to Paul who said faith/ justification was by faith alone in Jesus not by works, however i fail to see why you question ‘How could they keep Gods law ‘ are you referring to the Ten commandments? The apostles /disciples were practising observant Jews as was Jesus, even after His crucifixion they still went to the temple, and succeeded in annoying the temple authorities, although there was no true evidence of any wrong doing , except Caiaphas was coming to realize his desire to stamp out any thing to do with his opposition to Jesus was failing, perhaps you would like to clarify this point and how you understand it

    1. Kat Hobaugh

      Good to meet you ginette Kelley,
      Yes I am referring to The Ten Commandments. Understand I had very little scripture. Actually all I had was the Ten Commandments. I saw as a child that the Israelites committed to keeping the Ten Commandments, so I committed to keeping them (forgot often 🙂 ). What I didn’t know was that all of us are born with a sinful nature. I also had two words for eternal life; heaven and life. I had put my faith in God to get me into heaven, but I didn’t know God wanted to help me with life (works). What I was speaking of is the realization that I needed something (The Holy Spirit) to love others. My failure caused me to entrusted God by faith to provide this too. Applying this to the study, how could Peter say “I will lay down my life for you” prior to the Holy Spirit coming? I believe Peter denying Jesus three times answers the question. Hope I have answered yours. Kat

      1. Rafael

        Actually, Peter grabbing a sword and attacking the arresting party answers that. It wasn’t just words. He meant it. Jesus rebuked Peter. Peter was prepared to lady down his life to save Jesus from harm. He was sure that Jesus was the Messiah.

        But when he finally understood that Jesus was going to die no master what, his whole understanding collapsed. He was no longer sure about anything. His whole world was falling apart around him, right before his eyes. There is no doubt that Peter indeed loved Jesus, even amidst his denials. What Peter said was actually the truth. He hadn’t truly known Jesus. And he finally realized it.

  3. Roy Foster

    It is worth noting that John gives specific details of what we refer to as the Last supper. Actually, it was the Passover Feast for the Jews. John had announced Him to the Nation in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” At this “Passover Feast” the Lord Jesus Christ takes bread and wine and makes them the symbols of His body to be broken and His blood to be shed. The Spirit of God had prepared long for this day and now Christ, our passover, is about to be sacraficed for our redemption. The revelation of God, in human flesh, is never clearer than it is in John’s Gospel, The Hebrew writer conforms the same message as John in Heb. 1:1 “God hath in these last days spoken unto us in Son…” Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift (II Cor, 9:15). I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Jewish people who are the foundation of my faith and confidence in the Lord Jesus christ.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Roy, welcome to our group and thank you for your comment.

      Dr. Eli

  4. ginette kelley

    Of all the Gospels, John is probably the most beautiful, eschatologically as it is in glorification of Our Lord.
    Glorification between God the Father and the Son in the incarnation of Jesus is sorely missed by most Christians , because they base their beliefs so much on the teachings of Paul of Tarsus, and consequently on Luke and the acts of the apostles rather than concentrating more on the other Gospels, especially John, probably because of the misplacing of the Gospels, (Luke should have been last followed by Acts) my own thoughts on this is that the indescribable knowledge that John tells us right at the beginning Who Jesus is, but that so many don’t realize exactly what this means, The fact that Jesus in His Divine form as the son of God created everything for the Father and walked with us even in the Garden of Eden.
    Glorification starts early in His Ministry, when God the Father made one of His rare appearances at the Baptism of Jesus, When He said “This is my Son in whom I’m Well pleased” and again at the transfiguration, so often forgotten in the western churches, When Jesus showed the three Apostles on the Mountain , just who and what He was, proving His Divinity.
    So we come to the final hours in His (Jesus) ministry, starting with the passover meal, (although Judas Iscariot had already put into play his betrayal, showing that satan was already in control of him not at the supper) although that was when Jesus knew His betrayal was about to happen and by whom, and announced it to the apostles.
    The fact that this knowledge came to Him , i do not think that He was fully aware( i think that the Father allowed Him only what any mortal could handle at any one time, even a Divine one) of exactly what form his death would take or of the unremitting agony He would suffer in the last few hours before His death on the cross, I think that full knowledge came to Him whilst praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his statement reprimanding the apostles for not staying awake was also to Himself , ” that the Spirit is willing but the Flesh is weak” as His prayers to the Father , was to” take this cup from Him , but Your will be done” Jesus was obedient to the Last.
    This is the beginning of the end, but also the Beginning of Our Faith and Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who without His death on the cross and Resurrection their would be no Christian Church, just another tragic execution.

  5. Gamal R. Scharoubim

    It is quite interesting to look at Christianity from a Jewish point of view. There is a lot of insight gained especially when some incidents are clarified. I am keen on learning more and more even though I view my self as a firm Christian. Yet I also believe that man should not close his mind to other peoples views.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Gamal, I think every Christians by studying Jewish background of New Testament will only become firmer and better Christ-follower! We welcome you to this forum and thank you so much for your ongoing contributions. Dr. Eli

  6. Kat Hobaugh

    I wonder if these words, “Jesus begins by commanding them to love one another”, was also intended to prune any thoughts of works (self effort). I understand the scriptures to say that the Spirit would not be given until after Jesus death. How could they keep God’s law? I experienced this pruning (for lack of a better word) before I heard the gospel. I had had faith mixed with works. I would never return to works after my experience. (Romans 7 the good I wanted to do I did not do).