Evening time had settled in and Jesus sat around the table with his closest friends to share one final meal together. One last moment of normalcy before an angry mob lumbered its way into the garden to arrest him and set into motion the events that would quickly lead him to the cross.
While this magnificent sacrifice was a major reason for Jesus stepping down to walk the earth as a man, it was not a moment he was looking forward to (Mark 14:36). As he sat at that table, the weight of what lied mere hours ahead of him became so overwhelming that Jesus almost blurts out to his buddies, “One of you is going to betray me.”
If said at the middle of any table, that statement would cause an awkward silence and mood. But what’s even more fascinating to me is the disciples’ response, “Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, ‘Am I the one?’”. This seems strange to me for two reasons:
First, each disciple had at least a notion that they were capable of betrayal. Deep down in places they didn’t like to consider, they knew they had it in them to be unfaithful. To be a bad friend. And they were right. Later in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus is arrested, everyone runs away. They all very quickly take on the mentality of every man for himself.
Don’t kid yourself here, we would have acted the same way. You may be thinking, Not me. I wouldn’t have turned my back on Jesus. I would have stuck by him to the very end. Peter thought the same thing (Mark 14:29-31) but we all know how well he stuck to that pledge.
We all have the ability of being a bad friend. No one reading this post is without the capacity of failing someone. Jesus plainly said we aren’t good (Mark 10:18). But I believe knowing this about ourselves is a good thing. Biblical fatherhood understands we are capable of letting those around us down, we are quicker to offer understanding and grace to those who let us down. If we can at least acknowledge our loyalties are not always perfect, it becomes so much easier for us to handout forgiveness to those who are momentarily disloyal to us.
The second thing I find fascinating about the disciples’ response is that they didn’t know it was Judas. How could they not know it was Judas! Think about that for a minute. For them to not know who the betrayer was has to mean that Jesus never treated Judas any different than he treated the rest of the disciples. That’s the only way.
And this fact alone speaks to the unfathomable levels of integrity Jesus possessed. Because Jesus is God and all-knowing means the minute Jesus asked Judas to be a disciple, he already knew it was only a matter of time before Judas would betray him for a little bit of money.
Every meal they shared together, every conversation they had, every road they walked side-by-side, Jesus knew Judas would hand him over to be executed. And despite knowing all that, Jesus loved and treated Judas the same as he did all his other disciples. That is the only way the disciples could be so dumbfounded about who the betrayer might be.
If I were sitting at the table that night and said, “One of you is going to stab me in the back,” everyone would have immediately thought, I bet it’s Judas. They would have thought this because I would have treated Judas different. I would have given him the cold shoulder. I would have given him the worst of the duties. If I’m completely honest, I wouldn’t have loved Judas—and everyone would have noticed.
You and I have a lot of relationships. From family to neighbors to coworkers, we interact with people all the time. It would be foolish to believe all the people we do life with would never hurt us (some of them will even do it on purpose at times). Being a godly husband and father means doing our best to be like God.
One of the best pictures Jesus ever painted for us of His Heavenly Father was His true ability to love a person no matter what. We would all be better men to remember that fact and do our best to live it out. So the next time we feel betrayed by someone in our circle, let’s keep in mind two things: We are all capable of betrayal. And even a person’s betrayal didn’t get in the way of Jesus’s ability to love them.
This is a guest post from Eric Ballard. Eric is a youth and college pastor in Texas where he lives with his beautiful wife and two daughters. He is the author of several books and loves the Mississippi State Bulldogs, where he attended college for too many years. Because of an illustrious soccer career that was cut too short, most nights, Eric still sits by the phone waiting for the Houston Dynamo to finally call him up. Find him at ericrballard.com.
Like this post and think you'd like writing for Manhood Journey? Email Ryan Sanders your idea and he'll either not reply because your idea is that bad—or he'll assign you a deadline.