John 13:22-26 – The disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was at the table, leaning against Jesus’ breast. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.” He, leaning back, as he was, on Jesus’ breast, asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus therefore answered, “It is he to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
I confess that I have felt guilty about things that I didn’t do wrong. This isn’t true guilt, it’s insecurity. We can see this in the reading for today. Jesus mentions that one of them is going to betray Him and everyone is suddenly insecure.
I have often been troubled by people who believe that just because someone acts insecurely that it is evidence of their guilt. It is very bad for a judge or a pastor to treat people poorly just because they feel insecure or to treat them like they have sinned because they look insecure. This opens the door for injustice. All a wicked judge or accuser would have to do is make a person look insecure, then they are justified in pronouncing a sentence or blaming another person.
One of the interesting things about this is that it would appear that the only one who seemed secure was Judas. Bible teachers believe that, at this point, Judas had already made arrangements with the Jewish leaders to give Jesus over to them. It is very likely that Judas knew what He was planning on doing. Yet, the disciples were insecure. If justice depended on exposing the uncomfortable, it could have been perverted here.
We should be insecure about our “flesh.” We, even as Christians, can’t control our own bodies without the power and presence of God in our lives. Being insecure in ourselves is ok, but avoiding the help of the Holy Spirit is not ok. If we trust in our own abilities, we should be very insecure because we will fail given the right circumstances. Sometimes these circumstances are not present right away, but they can be arranged, and Christians have a powerful enemy. The disciples, however, had Jesus right there with them. They needed to trust in His power to “keep” them rather than to act as if they had to keep everything together themselves. In that way, things are the same for us today in our relationship to the Holy Spirit. We need to trust Him.
Roman Culture: I am told that offering a dipped piece of bread at a meal in Roman culture at that time was similar to offering a “toast” to that person. It was an act of friendship. Jesus, knowing what He knew continued to offer friendship to Judas. The Bible tells us, as Christians, to not pay evil for evil but repay evil with good.
Romans 12:19-20 – Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.”