Monday, July 05, 2010

Allegiance to the Enemy

What do you think of this statement? (excerpt from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume V, 13:4)
Note, It is hard to say whether more mischief is done to Christ's kingdom by the power and policy of its open enemies, or by the treachery and self-seeking of its pretended friends: nay, without the latter its enemies could not gain their point as they do.
Who in Jesus' day was the most obviously unreedemable enemy of Christ?  How did Jesus handle him?  The final interactions of Jesus and Judas Iscariot are accounted in John 13:18-29:
"I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
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 those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.
Foreknowledge is not the same thing as foreordination. Jesus had called Judas a devil earlier on. During this passover feast Jesus identifies three times (john 13 vs. 11,18,21) that not all of the twelve are loyal to Himself. What was His motive in revealing the presence of a traitor?
"I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He."
He revealed Judas' identity for the purpose of fulfilling prophecy and therefore to subsequently build their faith concerning His own identity.   I do not believe that He desired to expose Judas for His own justice. In fact, I believe that during this meal Jesus did everything possible to prevent the coming events and protect Judas.


painting by Rubens

I note the subtle and open ways He interacted with Judas showing him love, and giving him time to reconsider:
  • He washed his feet before he goes.  (John 13:5)
  • He eats the solemn meal with him.  (John 13:1)
  • He honors him as his friend.  (John 13:18, Psalm 41:9)
In spite of the three instances Jesus identified Judas to the other disciples, these disciples did not really understand.  As soon as Judas dipped the bread their question is answered, but, Jesus speaks "What you do, do quickly," which immediately distracts them and intellectually they lose track.  John 13:28-29
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 those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.
Consider how this must have affected Jesus. He knew He had the "sons of thunder" and the disciple whom He loved laying on his side. He could have spoken one more time and explained it fully. He could have called them to action against this devil. He might have remembered Simon Peter saying with all his zeal that he would follow Jesus anywhere, even to death; that he wanted to be washed not on just his feet but from head to toe; and how he implored Jesus not to go to Jerusalem and die according to the plan of the Father. Matthew 16:21-23
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
It took the power of His Father working mightily in Him to withstand this temptuous moment, not to seize Judas before he could execute this sequence to come. In His flesh, He should have been terrified; in His Spirit, He was confident in God's Word. Jesus testifies of this combined effect between His two emotions in the midst of His conversation about Judas. John 13:21
When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit...
The Sop

The dipped bread (called "sop") is the most striking aspect to the ministry Jesus made for Judas.  The offering of this bread is an act signifying allegiance to the one whom it is given.  According to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (page 1103)
...the sop [is] a morsel given in token of special favor and friendship.  


In this last moment He will ever have with Judas living in the flesh, Jesus regards him a friend and thus fulfills the intimate portrayl of God's ancient relationship with Satan before his fall.  In the heavens, God had foreknowledge, but had not foreordained, Satan's original close position and subsequent betrayal.   Psalm 41:9
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.
By choice, Jesus ties His own fate in to the fate of all his enemies, so that He might atone for the depth of all sinfulness.  Jesus dips his bread before handing it to Judas.  The word "dip" (bapto) is the root of the word "baptize."  Perhaps this was Jesus' unspoken way of replying to Satan the true enmity present between the two.  They locked eyes on one another. We know this because Jesus speaks to Judas using a pronoun saying, "What you do, do quickly."  Though Jesus treated Judas as a friend and servant, he was not in fact a friend but an enemy, because Satan himself was present.  We know this.  As their gaze met, and they both considered Jesus' act of submerging the bread into the bitter mix of herbs and vinegar, Jesus was without a word revealing his strategy of redemption.  "I'll be seeing you in just a few hours on your own home turf."  But Satan did not understand.  Satan had been communing with the heart of Judas as the meal ended (John 13:2).  Satan through his courtside seat saw up close that Jesus was aware that He was going to be murdered, and being reminded of his own primeval desire, he was intoxicated with pleasure and entered Judas fully.

Jesus treated him as a friend to the uttermost interaction.  He left the judgment of "enemy" be determined by events, not by declaration.  He knew how to make Judas' junk stick where it belonged.  The rest of Psalm 41 reads,
But You, O LORD, be merciful to me, and raise me up,
That I may repay them.
By this I know that You are well pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not triumph over me.
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
And set me before Your face forever.
By choice, Jesus ties His fate to the fate of all his enemies, so that He might atone for the depth of all sinfulness.  His disciples invite this same atonement and power of the LORD in to their community when they do as Jesus did.  That He intended for disciples to follow in His steps, is seen by this segue (below in bold font) in the narration of identifying His enemy.  John 13:18-21
“I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
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.”
The Father endured with Satan in this manner, Jesus did, and so His disciples also.

8 comments:

Todd said...

Truly, and it(Matthew Henry's quote) quickly brings to mind the earnest contender commission of Jude against the whole array of characters bent on using the church to satisfy their own agenda's.

And I've been enjoying skimming Matthew Henry's commentaries while I proceed through the Gospels in my adult Sunday School class at church. I appreciate him alot.

Very worthwhile reading through your article here.

Bobby Grow said...

I like Henry too :-)!

Marco Avila said...

Don't forget today, Germany vs Spain!

Sanctification said...

Hi Todd, thanks for the comment. I religiously do not read commentaries, but this time I did. That's because I was listening to a sermon last January on the "sop" and heard that the bread offered to Judas was, "according to commentaries, signifying allegiance." It was a central point to the post. I didn't actually find any commentary using that word to describe its meaning. Using the commentaries made my post much better than usual. I think I'm being converted. I'm sure I've tipped my hat that I have a ton to learn.

Blessings, Michele

Sanctification said...

Hi Marco, I'm glad you were excited about the game. It's good to hear from you. I don't watch sports, or tv much.

Michele

Bobby Grow said...

Michele,

I'm curious, why don't you read commentaries?

Sanctification said...

Hi Bobby,

I haven't avoided them in disagreement with what you frequently recommend, which is the importance of learning the history of theology. Until you mentioned that I never really thought consciously how important it is to compare interpretations to those made by the church at large. I don't mind comparing my interpretation at the end of my own explorations, which can take months or years depending on the topic.

I'm impressed and convicted when you said that no one reads from a theologically empty perspective.

For the doctrines that are most important, I found that whatever interpretation I receive from just reading, if it is good, it will stand the test of reading everything on the topic, and, I find that when an interpretation I have is correct, scripture gives a plethora of supportive doctrine, in fact going on and on and on in scads of material proving the interpretation in super abundance. So that's the tip I usually look for in whether I have come to a resting point in my own theology on a topic. Usually whatever else can be refined will be added by the theologically-speaking, "loyal opposition".

Whatever my disagreeing friend in the scriptures is trying to repeatedly show me about my interpretation, it is probably my blind spot to finish out the balance I can't quite attain. I can only see so much. I'm human. But my neighbor has been put there in the Spirit to add the portion given to him by God in his own studies.

Originally I stopped reading "books about scripture" when I had had enough of the cults telling me how I could know God or could know that I had known God. I don't need a mediator for confidence, excluding, as I expressed above, the constant need for balance in understanding that only others can provide.

tagskie said...

hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day! http://kantahanan.blogspot.com/

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