Washing feet

The Apostle John’s account of Jesus’ last night with his disciples focused primarily on the message Jesus delivered in the upper room where he and his twelve apostles celebrated the Passover Feast. John began by stating, “And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:2-5).

John was the only person that recorded Jesus’ humble act of washing his disciples feet. It could be that John was particularly impressed by this action because Jesus’ betrayer, Judas was still in the room when Jesus performed this task. John may have wondered afterward why Jesus would go to such great lengths to show kindness to a man that was possessed by the devil, but his account of the conversation that took place showed that Jesus was intentionally trying to teach his disciples a lesson even if they didn’t completely understand it. John stated, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?” (John 13:12).

Jesus’ explanation of his act of washing his disciples feet pointed to the fulfillment of prophecy about his betrayer (John 13:18). Evidently, Judas could have resisted the devil’s attempts to make him a traitor. None of the other disciples suspected Judas of any wrong doing. When Jesus told Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (John 13:27), John stated, “No one at the table knew why he said this to him” (John 13:28). After Judas left the room, Jesus told his disciples, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31). It could be that Judas’ act of betrayal was the final step in God’s plan of salvation. Although Satan intended to stop Jesus from becoming the Savior of the World, he actually helped him by turning him over to the authorities that were able to have him crucified.

In connection with the New Testament that was established during The Last Supper (Matthew 26:28), Jesus told his disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). This commandment might not seem very extraordinary in the light of all that has happened since Jesus died 2000 years ago, but it was what we might call today a game changer. Love was not a characteristic that was typically associated with God or his people. In response to Peter’s claim that he would lay down his life for him (John 13:37), Jesus told Peter, “Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny my thrice” (Mark 14:30).

An opportunity

The unfolding of the plot to kill Jesus was similar to any situation in which one person decides to betray another. Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve apostles selected by Jesus to be a part of his inner circle. These twelve men spent the majority of their time with Jesus during his three year ministry on Earth. The thing that set the apostles apart from the rest of Jesus’ followers was their intimate access to Jesus’ personal life. The apostles could ask Jesus any questions they wanted to and there were no secrets he kept from them. It was Judas’ intimate knowledge of Jesus’ pattern of behavior that enabled him to betray the man that had been his teacher from the winter of 28 A.D. when Jesus chose his twelve disciples to the spring of 30 A.D. when Jesus was crucified.

Luke’s gospel describes the situation this way:

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:1-6, ESV)

Luke’s account of what happened suggested that Judas disassociated himself from Jesus and joined in with the chief priests and officers that wanted to kill him. The Greek word that is translated consented or communed with, sullaleo (sool-lol-eh´-o) is derived from a combination of the two words sun (soon) and laleo (lal-eh´-o). The Greek word sun denotes union; with or together, i.e. by association, companionship, or process (G4862). The Greek word laleo means “to talk” (G2980). The combination of these two words suggests that Judas agreed with everything the chief priests and officers were saying and perhaps even mimicked their sentiments about having Jesus put to death.

It was possible for Judas to promise to provide the chief priests and officers with an opportunity to arrest Jesus when no one was around because he knew where Jesus went when he wanted to be alone. Although the specific location was probably not designated at the time of Judas agreement, it is likely a date and timeframe were specified at the time Judas entered into his covenant with the chief priests and officers (Luke 22:5). Luke’s final statement, “And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude” (Luke 22:6), may have meant that Judas was expected to go back to Jesus and find out where he planned to be at the appointed date and time. Satan’s involvement in the situation suggests that he was unaware of Jesus’ whereabouts.

Judas

Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus was motivated by at least three factors: greed, jealousy, and satanic influence. The Apostle John’s account of the last days of Jesus life indicated that he was at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus when Judas became upset about Mary’s waste of a precious ointment that was used to anoint the feet of Jesus (John 12:3). John recorded, “Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare that was put therein” (John 12:4-6). Matthew indicated Judas was given thirty pieces of silver for cooperating with the religious leaders that wanted to kill Jesus. He said, “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

Jesus’ recognition of Mary for her sacrifice was probably a significant factor in Judas’ decision to betray him. When Judas suggested that the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor, Jesus responded, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matthew 26:10-11). Jesus’ public criticism of Judas would have been like a slap in the face. It’s possible that Judas perceived Jesus’ comment to be a sign of his disregard for his service in the ministry. Judas may have thought Jesus was trying to humiliate him by placing Mary above him in the eyes of those that were present. The one thing that seems to be obvious is that Judas was in need of money and was willing to betray his own master in order to get it.

Luke’s account of Jesus’ betrayal is somewhat different than what is found in the other three gospels. Luke attributed Judas’ actions to demon possession. He stated:

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:1-6 ESV)

Luke’s remark that Satan entered into Judas seems to suggest that Judas was not responsible for his actions when he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Although it could be true that Judas had no control over what he was doing, there might have been an intent on Judas’ part to betray Jesus and Satan merely helped him to carry it out. John’s record indicated Satan didn’t enter Judas until the Last Supper (John 13:27), so it seems likely that Jesus’ betrayal was a joint effort between Judas and Satan.