Who is the Betrayer? (Part 1)
"When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.' Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast, he said to Him, 'Lord, who is it?' Jesus answered, 'It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.' And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, 'What you do, do quickly.' But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, 'Buy these things we need for the feast,' or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night" (John 13:21-30).

Jesus' foreknowledge of Judas' betrayal did not lessen the sting of it. Contemplating such, as the hour was quickly approaching, was disturbing to Jesus. Being betrayed by anyone would be a terrible thing to suffer, but Jesus' grief would run even deeper since the treacherous act would be committed by one who was in exceedingly close fellowship with Him. Jesus had previously mentioned that He would be betrayed (cf. Matt. 17:22; 20:18; 26:2), but in this context He clearly labels the betrayer as one of His own apostles.

The apostles (with the exception of Judas) were perplexed as to whom Jesus was referring to. They were not prepared for an announcement like this. Each of them asked - "Lord, is it I?" (Matt. 26:22). The form of this question in the Greek indicates that it expects to be answered in the negative. Basically, they are all saying to Jesus: "Surely, it isn't me, is it?" Judas was probably perplexed too, but his confusion would have been related to how Jesus knew of his wicked plot.

Judas inquired - "Rabbi, is it I?" (Matt. 26:25). Jesus' response to Judas was plain - "You have said it." Judas hypocritically asks this question in an effort to hide his identity as the betrayer for as long as possible. If Judas had remained silent when all the rest were speaking out, he would have drawn suspicion and perhaps been exposed. I find it interesting that the other apostles called Jesus "Lord," but the traitor would only refer to Him as "Rabbi." At that moment in time, Judas was not about to acknowledge Jesus as His "Lord."

"He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me" (Matt. 26:23). Jesus gives a somewhat general response to their specific inquiries. The "dish" contained a sauce (or broth) appropriate for dipping bread into. Some believe that there may have been several dipping dishes used in such a large group for the sake of convenience. If such is the case, Jesus' comment here would have indicated that the betrayer was sitting somewhat close to Him.

"The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him" (Mark 14:21; cf. Psa. 22; Isa. 53). Jesus was certainly following the path of suffering that had been declared by the Holy Spirit through the prophets. He had come to give His life for the sins of the world (cf. Matt. 20:28; I John 2:2), and He would do just that.

"But woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born" - Even though it was God's intent for Jesus to suffer and die for the sins of the world, this does not in any way absolve those (like Judas, for example) who played a part in the murder of an innocent Man. The fact that Jesus, the divine Judge Himself, states that it would have been better for Judas to have never been born implies that the doctrine of "universal salvation" is false. If one will only spend a finite amount of time in hell (as punishment for sins) and then be allowed to enter heaven, as those who support this doctrine affirm, then Jesus' statement here would not make sense. How could it be better for one to have never existed than to suffer greatly temporarily yet bask in heavenly glory for all eternity?

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.