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Bottom Line: Love or Betrayal

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Text:  John 13:18-38


            Friend or foe.  What makes the difference?  If love is offered and rejected, then the telltale signs are there that they are a foe.  You know friendship is genuine because of the bond felt in the heart.  And when they are supposed to be a friend, but they betray you, the sting hurts even more.  In Jesus’ case, He even knew it was coming.

            Lots of people struggle with Judas’ role among the twelve.  Was he ever a real believer?  Why did Jesus choose him if He knew how Judas was going to turn out?  Did Judas ever have a choice in the matter?  Are we therefore predestined to Heaven or Hell?  Tough questions – each deserving an answer, and that’s our goal with tonight’s study.

            Read Text.

            In Heaven there will only be those who accept by faith the sacrifice Jesus offered in our behalf.  But in the upper room was one who was an apostle, yet would not accompany them in Heaven.  It’s a tough reality, but a reality it is, that traitors mix company with friends…tares grown up with wheat.  The wake-up call comes when we understand that the choice of which we will be is in our hands.

            In the previous chapter, we saw Jesus draw the line with the crowds as to whether they would be a disciple of His.  Now He draws the line with His inner circle.  By the time we finish this study it will be your turn: Will you love Him or betray Him?

1.      Our beginning verse (v.17) records Jesus stating that you are blessed if you the things He just got through talking about.  What is He referring to?  (Loving one another enough to serve them – wash one another’s feet.)

2.      Verse 18 states that Jesus is very aware of those He has chosen, and yet one of them is going to lift up their heel against Him.  First of all, what picture comes to mind with the phrase, “lift up their heel against Me”?  (A horse that violently kicking against his master’s presence on his back.)     Second, what would it be like to minister alongside one who you KNOW is going to later betray you to death?
Insight: It was a part of the mysterious plan of God that His Son would be betrayed by one of the Apostles.  Understand it, we may not, but we can all be grateful, for YOU and I were included in the results of that plan!

3.      Describe Judas’ inner struggle as he contemplated his plan to betray Jesus.     Have you ever found it easy to keep secret something similar from those that surround you? having to lay off a friend? having to turn in someone for breaking the law?

4.      Now reverse the role – Jesus had to keep to Himself the knowledge of what role Judas would play.  What strength of character does it take to not polarize your comrades against a Judas in the group?     Do you have that strength of character?

5.      Why does Jesus now partially expose Judas?  (The betrayal is so certain and so imminent that there is no longer any need for silence.  It gives Judas an opportunity to exit the group and go do what’s in his Heart.  Also, Jesus uses the prophecy of what Judas is about to do to strengthen the faith of His disciples when they see it come true.)     How old is the original prophecy that Judas would do this very thing?  Ps. 41:9

6.      Verse 20 stresses the high calling of the Apostles.  How so? 

7.      How would you feel if you were one of the twelve hearing Jesus’ announcement in verse 21?     This verse also says that Jesus became troubled in His spirit making this announcement.  What do you think was going on inside Him at this point?

8.      (V.22)  What’s going on in the mind of people when they are advised there’s a Judas in the group, but they don’t know exactly who?     What must we guard against should we be put into a similar position?  (Not to become a hanging party and use every little nit-picky detail to then label who is the Judas.)     If this gets carried away, what can happen?  (You may hang the wrong person…a Peter, instead of a Judas.)

9.      Who is the one leaning against Jesus’ breast…the one whom Jesus loved?  Jn. 19:26; 21:20, 24   

10.  (V. 24)  Why do you think Peter gestured to John to tell them who Jesus was referring to?  (Peter probably wasn’t sitting next to Jesus; they are dumfounded and don’t want to speak out loud; perhaps they thought John would have inside news they didn’t.)

11.  (V. 26)  Do you know anything special about dipping sop that this would catch John’s attention and include it in this gospel account?  (Dipping sop – piece of bread in a broth – was a custom of a host to offer to an honored guest, as a mark of love for them.  He is intentionally expressing His love for Judas in hopes the love would overcome the evil in his heart.)
Insight: Jesus’ expression of divine love was temporarily impotent.  It is the hour of darkness and the prince of this world is allowed to enter Judas’ heart for the final treacherous deed.  In accepting the sop, yet going through with his plans, Judas reveals he is numb to Jesus’ appeal of love.  From that moment on he is wholly the tool of Satan.  Satan can tighten his grip only on those who make a hardened, final decision to reject Jesus.  Ps. 109:6

12.  How long can one who is wholly evil remain in the company of those who belong to Christ?  (They poke their head in for a brief moment, but they don’t like the company and will leave.)     What must be done for someone who is playing roulette with playing on both sides?  (Pray for them; pray for the H.S. to bind Satan in that person’s life.)  Acts 5:3

13.  Notice that Jesus made no overt attempt to keep Judas from His plans, but told him to expedite them.  Why is that?  (Jesus is now irrevocably committed to the death He came to die which Judas is going to set in motion.) 

14.  What does the text say what the disciples thought as to why Judas left? (v.29)

15.  When Judas left, Jesus then states that "Now is the Son of Man glorified.”  What does this mean?  (The Passion is set in motion where God’s love for the sinner will be shown to the whole world; He will soon be crucified, and glorified in His soon resurrection.)

16.  Verse 34 states that Jesus was giving them a new commandment on love.  How is it different than the old commandment on love they previously followed?  (Love your neighbor as yourself.  This one breathes of sacrifice in the words.)
Insight: This new kind of love would from this day forth, mark those who say they belong to Jesus.  Love that does not betray, but loves to the end is the mark that YOU belong to the band of Jesus’ believers!

17.  The disciples are dismayed that they can’t immediately follow Jesus where He is about to go?  How does Jesus’ words in verse 36 give them comfort? what does He mean by those words?  (This is only physical separation, not spiritual separation.  Though they cannot follow Him at once into Heaven, they will follow some day and be reunited with Him.)  2 Cor. 5:6-7


            Next Peter pledges to stand with Jesus and even lay down his life for Him.  It’s a pledge of love.  Peter will have a moment of weakness, and Jesus prophesies his betrayal, but Peter’s love will revive and eventually lay down his life for the Lord.  Peter or Judas?  Friend or foe?  Which are you? 

            And the new commandment…can you follow it?  Can you love others not because you like them, or are bound to them by family, or because they are your neighbor…but solely because they are fellow sinners redeemed by Christ?  Obedience to this new command reveals those who can cut the mustard…whose heart have been pierced with the sword of HIS love.  The old commandment demanded us to love your neighbors as ourselves.  To follow the new commandment is love our brothers and sisters in the Lord better than yourself…to die for them!

            So what’s your bottom line?  Love or betrayal?!

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