JESUS FORETELLS HIS BETRAYAL
John 13:18-20 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me. (Also See Vss. 21-30)
In the previous verse 10, Jesus told all of His twelve apostles that they were clean, meaning both physically and spiritually. However He revealed an exception when he qualified His statement by saying but not all. Jesus had just completed the teaching of humility shown toward others as a characteristic required of His servants, and, if they would obey this doctrine, they would find true happiness. Continuing this thought in the lesson text, Jesus says, I speak not of you all. He then proceeds to explain this teaching and identify the apostle that was spiritually unclean and, due to his selfishness, found no happiness in serving others. This apostle, Jesus would identify as the one, who this very night, would betray Him to the Jewish leaders.
Jesus confirms that He chose all twelve of His apostles, and, with one exception, they remained faithful to Him and His cause. All received the same fellowship and teachings, yet one, due to his insatiable desire for things of the world, was destined to betray Jesus. I do not believe, as some do, that Judas Iscariot was compelled by some evil force to become an envious, greedy traitor. I do think that, with His omniscient power to know all things, Jesus was able to know and foretell that, although chosen as one of His apostles, He would be betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Even after Jesus had chosen these twelve, He said that one of this number was a devil, and would betray Him (See John 6:70-71). This prophecy of Jesus fulfilled this scripture: He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me. This scripture, found in Psalm 41:9, was written about Ahithophel, a friend of David, that rebelled against him, became his enemy, and encouraged Absalom to overthrow King David and replace him on the throne of Israel.
Jesus told His apostles that, like this Old Testament incident, He, too, would be betrayed by he that eateth bread with Me. He that once was His friend, as evidenced by their fellowship and meals together, now hath lifted up his heel against Me. Regardless of the deceit and treachery used win a battle, the heel of an adversary placed at the neck of the one whom he defeated signifies victory. Whether in sporting games of struggle or in actual battles between armies of warring nations, this practice of lifting up one's heal against the defeated foe often took place as a symbol of victorious combat. This analogy was true in the sense that the betrayal of Judas Iscariot led to Jesus' arrest, trial, and crucifixion. And the reason Jesus told the apostles of this prophecy was to assure them that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He. This, as it was on many other occasions, was told to assure them of His deity as the Son of God, and to increase and strengthen their faith that He was the promised Messiah, the Savior.
To further establish the belief in His deity among the apostles, Jesus tells them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. This same sentiment spoken by Jesus was recorded in Matthew 10:38-40: And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.
Doctrine that is often repeated by Christ Jesus, such as this verse in the lesson text, we must accept as extremely significant, especially when it is preceded with the words, verily, verily. Both the Greek and Hebrew word translated "verily" carries the meaning of "surely and truly," which confirms the extreme importance of that which is to follow. In this passage Jesus assures us that it is of great importance that we understand, believe, and accept the fact that to receive the spiritual doctrine of God, is to receive the spiritual doctrine of Christ, and to receive the spiritual doctrine of Christ, is to receive the spiritual doctrine of His apostles. We must receive their spiritual doctrine, that is, their teaching, believe it without exception, and allow it to direct our conduct of life at all times. Failing to do so would be no different than the actions of Judas, who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders for twenty pieces of silver.