I don’t know for sure if they were already feeling a bit of electricity in the air as they gathered for supper, but I’m guessing they might have. Ever since Jesus had called Lazarus out of the tomb, the religious leaders had set their sites on putting to death the Raiser-of-the-Dead (still think that’s weird). Nevertheless, as Passover approached, Jesus determined to walk into their backyard, and enter Jerusalem He did — in a big way. The week had begun with Jesus’ Messianic looking entry into the city. And, during that week, He continued to teach His disciples and confound His detractors. And so, as they gathered for the Passover, I’m thinking there was a bit of energy in the room.
The night starts off kind of weird. Jesus “having loved His own” and “knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,” gets up from supper . . . lays aside His outer garment . . . pulls out a towel and ties it to His waist . . . and then begins to wash the disciples feet (John 13:1-17). Ok, if there wasn’t an edge to the night before that, you gotta think that after reclining back at the table, everyone around that table is on high alert. I imagine that they were all ears concerning everything Jesus taught about His foot washing “object lesson” and about everything else He would say afterward.
Then Jesus drops a bombshell, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (13:21). Jesus, having loved His own, knew who wasn’t His own.
John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved” was reclining at the side (literally “in the bosom”) of Jesus. Peter must have been near as well, as he motions to John and says, Pssst! . . . Ask Jesus who He’s talking about . . .
So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to Him,”Lord, who is it?” 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. . . . So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
(John 13:25-26, 30 ESV)
And with all the dynamics swirling around the room that night, here’s what struck me this morning. John leaned in, but Judas walked out.
Both had been called by Jesus. Both had followed. Both had seen the signs and heard the teaching. Both had been given access to the Son of Man’s inner circle. Yet John abided, but Judas betrayed. John set His face towards the Lord, Judas gave Jesus his back. John leaned into the bosom of his Savior, but Judas walked out overtaken by the Serpent.
Equal access . . . equal opportunity . . . equal knowledge . . . very different responses. How come?
While I could spend time figuring trying to come up with the different dynamics of John and Judas in processing the revelation they received concerning the Son of God, and though I believe both had full freedom to respond as they chose, this morning I just sit in wonder as I’m reminded that “only sovereign grace can explain the difference” (note from my Gospel Transformation Bible).
The awe focused as much on John leaning in as it is on Judas walking out.
John, like Judas, was a sinner. John, like Judas, had been dead spiritually. John, like Judas, had been a rebel and an enemy of God. And this John, unlike Judas, now leans into the bosom of Jesus. Called of the Father . . . wooed by the Spirit . . . given as an eternal trophy of grace to the Son.
Amazing grace! That one leaned in . . .