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By Jon Shonebarger

The setting was intimate. All the preparations had been made, the food had been laid out and the table was beautifully set. The 12 disciples of Jesus had gathered together in an upper room that had been borrowed from another believer so that they could observe the Passover meal together.

As was the custom in that day, they reclined around the table, eating, drinking, talking and remembering the historical significance of this Jewish feast. These men had been handpicked by Jesus to learn the ministry and to carry on His mission after the crucifixion. The 12 were a close-knit group; they had traveled many miles together preaching, healing and ministering to the multitudes. Over the course of years, they had become a band of brothers.

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

In the midst of the Passover meal, Jesus made a disheartening statement, “…one of you which eateth with me shall betray me.” (Mark 14:19). The disciples were overcome with sorrow and one by one they began to ask the Lord, “Is it I?” It is important to observe in this moment of personal doubt, the disciples questioned their own hearts and behaviors. They sought an answer from Jesus, hoping that they could not be capable of such betrayal. Jesus addressed the group and said, “It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.” (Mark 14:20).

Then Judas, who would betray Him, asked Jesus whether it was him who would betray the Master. Jesus replied, “Thou hast said.” (Matthew 26:25.) The Gospel records that when Jesus dipped the sop and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Satan entered into Judas. It is important to note, Judas is the only man that Satan himself ever indwelt. Jesus then told Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27). Judas then departed into the night at the end of the Passover meal and before the Last Supper was observed.

The 11 remaining disciples of Christ believed that Judas departed in order to conduct business on behalf of the group. Judas was the treasurer and a trusted leader. He was a Judean, while the other disciples were Galileans. He had prominence among the 12 and sat at the right hand of Jesus during the Passover meal. When the disciples individually asked Jesus whether it was them that would betray Him, they did not ask, “Is it Judas?” No, they never suspected Judas as the one who would betray the Lord. There had been nothing in 3½ years of living, eating and ministering together that would bring suspicion upon their partner in ministry, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was living a double life! Judas had conspired with the chief priests to betray Jesus. Judas did not wake up one day and decide to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. There was a progression in his life that led him to the ultimate betrayal of the Son of God. Consider, Judas had heard all of Jesus’ sermons; he had witnessed all the miracles; he had observed all of the habits and holiness of the perfect life of the Messiah. Yet, he rejected the love, forgiveness, grace and mercy of the Savior on a personal level. He uttered not a word. He never objected to the messages or denied the miracles to his fellow disciples. He hid them in his heart and kept silent, until his opportunity arose. Nobody ever suspected Judas to be a traitor.

It is disconcerting to examine this double life of this man. Imbedded in the group, plotting, scheming and waiting for his moment of betrayal. His moments alone were hidden from the others’ eyes, except Jesus. He was the ultimate hypocrite, playing the role of the beloved servant to the Savior, yet hating Him in his heart. When Jesus and the other disciples made their way to the garden Gethsemane, Judas met them with a great multitude bearing swords and staves. Judas called Him Master and kissed Him; Jesus called him friend. Judas would ultimately regret his actions and would commit suicide.

It is a valuable lesson for us to learn, that we cannot truly know the heart of another person. Only God knows the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart. People can deceive us, lie to us and betray us. There are many trusted leaders leading a double life, only to be exposed in a moment of exposure. Every day we learn of scandals, affairs and personal failure. Every day, somebody’s heart is broken when the fraud is brought to light.

Let us endeavor to love others unconditionally as Christ did, offering grace, mercy and opportunity to do the right thing. God will deal with the hypocrite in His time, in His righteous judgment.

Have a great week and remember, God loves You!

Contact Jon at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.