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God’s Word for You

Luke 22:21-23 Even my close friend…

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

One Will Betray Jesus

21 “But look, the hand of the one who is going to betray me was with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 They began to ask questions with one another: which of them it was who was going to do this.

Luke does not always present the words and actions of Jesus in chronological order (for this we usually turn to Matthew and then to John as a supplement), but since the other three Gospels tell us that Jesus exposed the traitor Judas before the Lord’s Supper was instituted, we have two ways of taking this passage where it is. Either Luke has brought this little scene forward to group another question of the disciples alongside (in verse 24 they will wonder which of them is the greatest), or else Jesus said this after Judas left. Note that Judas would not need to be present for this passage to have been spoken at this time. There is no main verb at all in the Greek of verse 21 (the participial phrase “of the one who is going to betray me,” τοῦ παραδιδόντος με, is subordinate), and either translation, “is with mine on the table” or “was with mine on the table,” is possible.

Jesus saw in Judas the same betrayal that David saw in his friend Ahithophel. This incident is from the third stage of David’s reign:

  I, Beginning Reign in Hebron (1010-1003)
  II, Early Jerusalem reign (1002-992) (ends with David’s adultery)
  III, Middle Jerusalem reign (992-983) (Absalom’s rebellion)
  IV, Late Jerusalem reign (983-970) (Adonijah’s rebellion)

The third period is entirely taken up by the revenge and rebellion of Absalom. A former companion of David’s sided with Absalom and even gave such good advice that people listened to him “like one who inquires of God” (2 Samuel 16:23). Yet when his advice was thwarted, and the rebellion of Absalom was doomed, Ahithophel went out and hanged himself. About this, David said: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). And again, “If a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave” (Psalm 55:12-15). Jesus and the surviving apostles took Ahithophel’s rebellion as a prophecy of Judas’ betrayal. Peter also quoted Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 (both written by David about a friend who betrayed him) as justification to assign a Twelfth Apostle replacing Judas after the Lord’s ascension (Acts 1:20).

Jesus let himself fall into the hands of a friend, knowing all the while what would happen. Jesus was not responsible for Judas’ betrayal, but he knew how serious that betrayal was. “Woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” Judas had fallen from faith into the pit of greed. Judas had been an apostle of Christ, a man who had once preached the gospel of forgiveness, who had baptized people (John 4:2), who had performed healing miracles in the name of Jesus (Luke 10:9), and who had driven out demons in Jesus’ name (Luke 10:17). But Jesus had foreseen: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Ignorant of Judas’ betrayal, the disciples wondered which of them would turn on their Lord. Ignorant of the true gospel and the value of Jesus’ work in the world, Judas wondered how he could profit from Jesus, forgetting to turn to his Lord.

Never forget, dear Christian, that Jesus offers his forgiveness to us day after day. There is no sin so horrible that Jesus cannot forgive it. There is no shame so foul in your past that Jesus has not already covered over it with his own blood. Your sins were forgiven on the cross. Run back to Jesus and know that you are at peace with God.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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