Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. Now when evening had come, He was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. And as they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” And being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” And He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said it yourself.”
Sometimes I wonder where the most passionate of prayers can be heard, ceremonially seated in the sanctuary or echoing within the walls in the hall of a hospital? Who prays more fervently, the burned out pastor or the spouse who lies alone in bed on a stormy night, when the power has been knocked out and the streets are flooded, whose husband is two hours late, and his cell phone goes straight to voicemail? Where is the word of God taught to triumph, in the Sunday morning presentation or in the heart of one who took the time to read before work? When are we most joyful, perched in the pew or praying prayers of thanksgiving, for the provisions from God? What makes us sings songs of salvation, the praise leader saying, “all rise,” or moments of magnificent memories of the promises of God? It’s a matter of the heart.
Did Judas have to betray Jesus? Jesus indicates that he is going to die, either way. We saw last time, that with Judas, it wasn’t really about the money, why he betrayed Jesus. But it’s difficult to definitively define the precise purpose Judas had in his heart. He was a lowlife, John makes that clear, but in the context of Matthew, he makes no such mention until today’s text; “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Now, a lot of people are lowlifes, but how many of them betray their Master to death. Many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers believe that Judas didn’t know that Jesus would be put to death. Problem; Jesus has told them several times exactly what would take place. Judas had a heart problem.
“Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” Are you confused by the Passover and the day of Unleavened Bread? It’s understandable because although they are somewhat synonymous, each has it’s different distinctions and like all the pilgrimage festivals, they change over time based upon men’s traditions and precepts. The original intent of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are found in Exodus 11+12. For further information please read my missive, The Passover is Coming. Like the Gospel of Matthew, my missives build on themselves. For time’s sake, I won’t write things over and over, except: if you are here for the first time, welcome to you. You have found the home of the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; Context is King, Author’s Aspirations to his Audience are Apex, Genre is the General, Expository Exegesis of Examples Enlightens and Dividing Rightly the Word of Truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions. Today’s context is the beginning of the final Passover. Yet this context has been building from Matthew 1:1 and in the Law and prophets. God, through numerous author’s, genres and years, wrote a book. We should read it, the CAGED method can help.
“Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” The festival of Passover has begun and Jesus desperately desires to eat the Passover, during the days of Unleavened Bread, with his disciples. Problem; Jesus is homeless and the disciples are from Galilee. They are in Jerusalem, the not aptly named, “City of Peace,” for it is actually the belly of the beast. Therefore the disciples ask, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
As was the custom of Jesus, he had prepared a plan. “And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, ‘My time is at hand; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.’”’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.” It reminds the reader of The Triumphal Entry To Typically Tragic Times, where Jesus said, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” One of the major themes, a sublime string if you will, running through Matthew is that of Jesus being prepared. We saw that this particular part of Passover and Unleavened Bread, commemorates that the Hebrews were in a hurry and “prepared no provisions.” But Jesus is the true Israel and as he prepared provisions for the people of Israel, his own provisions have also been prepared. We don’t know how, we are not told. Many people will lose their joy over this minor minutia, rather than be over-joyed seeing the sublime string of preparedness; the continuing juxtaposition between Jesus and Jerusalem, Israel and the incarnate God, the Messiah and the masses. All these things that Israel couldn’t do, nor anyone else, Jesus is fulfilling. Make no mistake, Matthew’s main aspiration to his audience is that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, but the secondary suggestion is that Jesus as the Messiah was the true Israel. Today’s text is another example.
“And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. Now when evening had come, He was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. And as they were eating, He said, ‘Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.’” At this point in the text, the disciples don’t know what we know; it’s Judas Iscariot. We also notice the familiar words, “And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them.” The disciples went and found the certain man, and made preparations for Passover. How did they they recognize the man? We are not told, don’t lose your joy. But if you must know, read Luke 22. Clearly, the aspiration to Matthew’s audience isn’t how they found the man but that the disciples did what Jesus had instructed them to do and once again, it all worked out exactly as Jesus said. And at evening, they all reclined at the table and began to break bread, quite figuratively and literally. As the disciples were eating, Jesus told them a bit of bad news. “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” This must have come as quite a surprise.
Notice; “And being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?'” “Deeply grieved,” is how Matthew, who was an eyewitness, and was no doubt writing how he also felt, described the disciples’ demeanor. It is quite apperant that the disciples didn’t see this coming. We notice that, “each one began to say to Him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?'” The disciples didn’t point fingers, or all in unison yell, “Judas?” They were 12, close-knit, comrades of Christ. They could not believe what Jesus was saying, figuratively. But they knew Jesus to be the typified, truth teller. Though in shock and alarm, they knew that Jesus was telling them the truth and they were stupefied. “Surely not I, Lord?” The disciples were so utterly befuddled that they each considered the consequence that they might be the betrayer. My hypothesis is that in retrospect, after they calmed down and let the dust settle, they all probably would have picked Judas. No one can can play the part that well when he is willing to betray his master for 30 silver pieces but we can’t know for certain. Nevertheless, they all looked inwardly, questioning their consciences.
“And He answered and said, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me.'” Matthew and Mark both agree that it was, “he who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me.” Luke writes; “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table.” John wrote; “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.”
Critics claim, “contradiction!” But we must remember that each writer had different aspirations to their audience and are allowed some certain semblance of literary license. We must also consider that the bowl would be on the table (Luke), Jesus and Judas dipped in said bowl at the same time (Matthew and Mark), and Jesus gave his dipped morsel to Judas (John). Also critics claim and also argue, that this could not be the Passover because it’s on the wrong day. Preposterous! I guess they have never celebrated anything early. Notice; Jesus kept the Law, by healing on the Sabbath. What a worrisome and weak argument this is. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, New Moon, Sukkot, Shavuot and Pesach; the Passover and the Unleavened Bread.
“‘The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’ And Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it yourself.’” Judas says, almost, the same thing as everyone else; “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
What is the difference between”Lord” and “Rabbi?” I would say that the difference is life and death. The rest of the 11 disciples call him Lord, like David did. But Judas calls him, Rabbi, like the Pharisees and Sadducees. It’s not that Rabbi is the wrong name, Jesus has said that he is their Rabbi–it is a heart problem. By this point in the context of Matthew, the 11 are calling Jesus, who has fully revealed himself to the disciples, Lord. But not Judas, he calls him Rabbi. We find in Luke and John, that Judas is on the side of Satan and not the Spirit. Judas walks with Jesus, talks with him, and even dips his hand in the same bowl with him at the penultimate Passover (theologically and Spiritually speaking, his death was the final Passover). This was more than betrayal. Nevertheless, we live in two worlds where we figuratively dip our hands in the bowl with Jesus and then betray him for the figurative 30 silver pieces. Thank God for his final Passover.
We would do well to dwell on the deeds of Jesus and Judas, who were partaking of a religious rite together. During the Passover, they were so close, physically speaking, that their hands were on the table together and they both dipped in the bowl at the same time. One could write a seminary doctoral dissertation on the Spiritual significance of this event. One aspect or angle on which one could focus would be that this final Passover was like all the Passovers past, a religious rite that man performs where the Spiritual significance is based upon the heart and not the acts. Judas was going through the motions like many before him. Another angle would be the compassion and grace of Jesus to still be willing to share with Judas, the one he knew was going to betray him. Considering Matthew’s aspiration to his audience, we see the true Israel fulfilling the Passover promise, being betrayed by his own. We should see Judas as we see the Pharisees and Sadducees, but even worse, because he had the inside information. He could have been an apostle.
Zechariah 11 beginning in verse 12, “And I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.’ So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD. Then I cut my second staff, Union, in pieces, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. And the LORD said to me, ‘Take again for yourself the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs. Woe to the worthless shepherd Who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm And on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered, And his right eye will be blind.”
Judas is blind to the words and works of Jesus. Like the Pharisees and scribes, Sadducees and chief priests and ancient apostate Israel, Judas was expecting the kingly Messiah, like the warrior, King David. They weren’t expecting a gentle, homeless Shepherd-King, humble and riding on a donkey with shirts for a saddle.
Insight from Isaiah; “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.’ Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.” And “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.”
It’s not about religious rites and singing in sanctuaries. Judas walked the walk and talked the talk, almost. Think about it, the disciples look inwardly, at themselves when Jesus told them that one of them was going to betray him. They didn’t look at Judas, but questioned whether or not it was them. Only one word was distinctive, Judas didn’t call Jesus, Lord. Do not miss this; Judas physically followed Jesus, it wasn’t enough. Judas walked with Jesus, it wasn’t enough. Judas talked and ate with Jesus, and even now is given a piece of food, within the context of a religious rite, by the Master and Messiah, dipping their hands into the exact same bowl. But that certainly wasn’t enough. Jesus is more than enough, Judas failed to realize this and after going through the motions for three years, his heart was revealed.
“‘The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’ And Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it yourself.'” Judas didn’t call Jesus, Lord. Having heard, his heart hadn’t been transformed and his mind wasn’t changed after being with Jesus. All the religion in the world, couldn’t save Judas.
Appendix: Pride: I believe that Judas had more than just a heart problem; he was full of pride. It is the same problem that the scribes and Sadducees, chief priests and Pharisees had–also me.
I attempt to keep a low profile to keep my pride in check. I go on missions trips but won’t say where, specifically (partly because I can’t). I reveal much of my name but not enough for one to find me. I left youth ministry out of fear of pride. I want to avoid pride at all cost because it is a prevalent poison. It is all too easy for pride to entangle us. We are all susceptible to pride, and it appears to be the number one sin. I started this blog so that I could remain fairly anonymous, being veiled behind the internet, so that we could make much out of Jesus and not worry about who I am. But God is showing me that this is also pride. I am not behind the scenes, I am hiding. Pride is the watchword concerning the apostate Israel, true Israel are those who humble themselves. “Surely it is not I, Lord?” Vs. “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”