What you believe about Jesus is crucial. What you believe about him will determine how you respond to Him. If you see Him as a nice person who did something wonderful for you, then you will be thankful. However, if you see Him as Lord, God, Master, and Savior who did something wonderful for you, then you will be thankful and surrender to His Lordship and authority. As a follower of Jesus, you are not following someone who is simply loving, you are following someone who is loving and Lord. That’s a big difference.
God’s Word makes it very clear that Jesus is God on display.
- Colossians 1:15 says, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (NLT).
- Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus “radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (NLT).
- In John 14 Jesus told Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9, NLT).
- John described Jesus as the Word and in John 1 he says, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NLT).
Jesus is both the perfect representative of God and God Himself. Jesus’ power, wisdom, and goodness fully and accurately reveal to us the character and perfections of God.
Today, we are going to see God on display in Jesus. We are going to see five major characteristics of God revealed and demonstrated in today’s lesson.
In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.” 19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?” 20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” (Mark 14:17-21, NLT)
Five major characteristics of God on display in the life of Jesus. Here we go.
The Grace of God
First, we see the grace of God. God’s grace is His kindness and goodness toward us when we don’t deserve it. We see Jesus demonstrating this with Judas in verse 17. Mark says, In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. Earlier that day, Jesus sent Peter and John on a covert mission to meet a mysterious man carrying a water pitcher who would then guide them through the crowds of Jerusalem until they came to house. They followed the man into the house and spoke with the owner of the home about a room that was reserved for Jesus and the disciples. The room had already been prepared. Peter and John went to town to prepare the sacrifice, the food, and the drinks and whatever else was needed for the Passover Meal. That evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve.
Then Mark says, As they were at the table eating…. Don’t picture the kind of table you and I would sit at. Think of a large coffee table. Jesus and two disciples at one end and five disciples on the left side and five disciples on the right side. They are reclining on cushions while leaning on their left arm, eating with the other hand, with their head close to the table and their feet furthest away. This posture at the table symbolized the Israelites’ freedom from Egyptian slavery. At that time, only free people would eat in a reclining position. The place of honor would have been at the head of the table where Jesus was reclining, and the next two positions of honor would have been to the left and right of Jesus.
Listen carefully, to eat a meal in this fashion with someone was a sign of loyalty, love, and devotion. It represents a deep relationship between those involved. That is significant because of what is about to happen with Judas.
Then Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.” The phrase, I tell you the truth means listen up, I’m about to say something significant. Some translations word this as “truly I say to you.” He is about to say something that is shocking to all of them.
Jesus says, one of you eating with me here will betray me. Jesus already knew who it was. Actually, Jesus knew from the very beginning. Way back in John 6 Jesus said to the disciples, “But some of you do not believe.” John then adds, “For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him” (John 6:64, NLT). Jesus statement about one of them betraying Him stunned the disciples. However, this betrayal was necessary. It would fulfill Old Testament prophecy (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18).
This is ironic because this meal represented many things, one being a deep and dedicated commitment to each other. However, Judas is only pretending to have a love and devotion to Jesus. He is hiding behind religious symbolism and activity to appear dedicated to Jesus. Two thoughts.
- One, as a Christian, you will eventually experience betrayal from someone who you thought loved God and loved you. It will hurt. It will sting. But you will forgive. You will heal. God will use it in your life.
- Two, be careful that you are not hiding behind religious activity to fool those around the table that you love Jesus. As much as I wish it were not true, there are people who go to church, sing the songs, give and listen to the sermons who really don’t care anything about Jesus or what He has to say. They have no intention of applying what He says. That was Judas. Don’t let it be you.
This point is about the grace of God. Where is the grace? It is tucked away at the table. Remember, I said Jesus and two other disciples were sitting at the head of the table. One of the disciples sitting at the head of the table next to Jesus was Judas. Out of grace, Jesus brought Judas in close one last time. On the table would have been several bowls to dip the bread into. Because of the position of the bodies the three at the head of the table would have shared a bowl. Here in a few minutes Jesus and Judas are going to use the same bowl.
I think God does something similar for some people. Before they officially walk away from God, He brings them in close one last time. Gives them an opportunity to change their mind, to repent. That’s grace. That’s kindness. Here we see the grace of God on display.
The Word of God
We not only see something about the grace of God, but we also see something important about the Word of God. Jesus, as the Living Word of God, just said someone at the table is going to betray Him. Mark then gives us a description of their response in verse 19 saying, Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
John gives some insight on this by telling us, “The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean” (John 13:22, NLT). This tells me that Judas was so good at pretending to be a follower of Jesus that the other disciples didn’t even consider him. His commitment and devotion appeared to be equal to everyone else’s.
The idea that someone at the table would betray Jesus affected the disciples deeply. Mark says they were greatly distressed. The idea of being greatly distressed (lupeo) means grieved. As the meal continued, this continued to bother them, saddened them, and upset them. It was weighing heavy on their minds.
This bothered the disciples so much that each one asked, Am I the one? Each one asked this question. Peter asked, Am I the one? John asked, Am I the one? James asked, Am I the one? They did not ask this as a group. They asked this in turn, one by one.
This is fascinating to me because Jesus has just said something significant and the disciples are evaluating what Jesus said personally, Am I the one? That is how you respond to the Word of God. When God’s Word addresses sin you need to ask, “Am I the one doing that? God are you talking to me about this? Am I committing this sin?” There are things in your life that you need to be grieved about and greatly distressed about when God’s Word addresses you.
I’m convinced that Jesus wanted each one of the disciples to evaluate their own personal commitment and dedication to Him. There will be those times in your life God will want you to do the same. He wants you to wrestle with your own question, Am I the one? Here we are seeing the Word of God on display.
The Omniscience of God
So far, we have seen a glimpse of the grace of God and our response to the Word of God, but now let’s see the omniscience of God on display. The omniscience of God deals with His knowledge. He knows. He is all knowing. Mark says in verse 20, He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me.”
With that statement, Jesus just narrowed it down to about 3 or 4 possible disciples. The best we can determine John and Judas were on the left and right sides of Jesus. Peter would have been at the corner next to John and another disciple on the corner next to Judas. In reality, there were four disciples who could have used the same bowl as Jesus. The disciples at the far end of the table probably breathed a sigh of relief, but then thought, “Could it be Peter, John, or Judas? Surely not.”
By narrowing the suspects down like this gave Judas another opportunity to repent. Jesus is reaching out to Judas. He is putting the loving squeeze on Judas and giving Judas time after time to change his mind.
By doing this, Jesus is demonstrating He knows who it is. But Jesus has always known who it was. The omniscience of God is on display.
This reminds me that God knows our heart. We cannot hide our sin and selfishness from Him. You may be able to fool those around you, but you do not fool God. He knows. He is omniscient. He sees.
The Sovereignty of God
We now move from seeing the omniscience of God to seeing the sovereignty of God on display. The sovereignty of God deals with His control, authority, and power. Jesus says in verse 21, For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. Because of God’s sovereignty, God is able to declare something ahead of time and then make it happen. Two things I want you to see.
First, Jesus accepted God’s plan. Jesus knew that He must die just as the Scriptures described it. God had a plan. Everything about to happen to Jesus had been foreordained by God and foretold in Scripture (cf. Acts 2:23). Details about His suffering and crucifixion were predicted in Old Testament passages like Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; And Zachariah 12. This is why Paul would later say to the Corinthian believers, “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (1 Cor. 15:3-4, NLT). The plan had been determined in eternity past (cf. Rev. 13:8) and recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus did not go to the cross as a helpless victim but as the obedient Son fulfilling both the world and will of His Father (cf. Matt. 26:54; Luke 24;44; Phil. 2:8). The Son of God was submitting to the Heavenly Father’s sovereign will.
Second, Jesus accepted God’s Word. Jesus is demonstrating His belief and confidence and trust in the Word of God. Jesus believed the Bible. He quoted the Bible. He used the Bible. He loved God’s Word. So should we. He accepted it and so should we.
Jesus accepted the sovereign will and plan of the Heavenly Father. For you and I, we can accept it too. It may be difficult. It may be hard. There may be many valleys, but there is no better place than to be than in the middle of God’s Sovereign will accepting His authority, power, and control over your life. The sovereignty of God is on display with Jesus.
The Judgment of God
From the sovereignty of God, we move to see the judgement of God. Jesus goes on to say in verse 21, But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!
Jesus says, how terrible it will be for the one who betrays the Son of Man. That statement has three implications.
First, it implies compassion. Even though Judas was betraying Jesus, Jesus still cared about Judas. The Lord’s heart felt pity and sadness for Judas. Jesus knew that Judas’ eternal future would be horrible and terrible. Now listen, the same is true for each person who betrays Jesus. Everyone who rejects Jesus as the Lord, the Messiah, and as the Son of God is betraying Him in some way. Their eternal future will be terrible, just like Judas. Jesus still has compassion and love for everyone who rejects Him. Jesus does not want to see anyone perish. He is a compassionate Savior.
Second, it implies a warning. When Jesus said, how terrible it will be for the one who betrays the Son of Man, He was lovingly giving Judas a warning. Even though all the disciples heard Jesus say this, Jesus was covertly talking to Judas specifically. It was like Jesus was saying, “Judas, I know its you and you can still choose to repent. This decision to betray me will cost you dearly. Are you sure you want to do this?” It was a warning. The same is true for everyone who hears the good news about Jesus. Within the gospel of Jesus is a warning. There is hope and love and grace in the gospel, but there is also a warning. You hear the warning in scriptures like Romans 6:23 which says, “For the wages of sin is death [there’s the warning], but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” there’s the hope, love, and grace (NLT). Jesus gives us all a warning because He loves us.
Third, it implies judgement. Judas willingly decided to betray Jesus because of his own selfishness and greed. His selfishness and greed opened the door for Satan to enter into Him and direct his actions. Because of his own free will Judas will be judged guilty for his sins, rather than forgiven of his sins because he betrayed and rejected Jesus. The same is true for everyone who rejects and betrays Jesus. Revelations 20:12 says unbelievers will be “judged according to what they had done” and will be “judged according to their deeds” (NLT).
Then Jesus adds an alarming statement by saying, It would be far better for that man if he had never been born! Judas had been with Jesus for three years. During that time, he had seen Jesus perform miracle after miracle. Judas would have witnessed Jesus calming the storm, walking on water, raising the dead, healing the blind, crippled, deaf, and those with various diseases and sicknesses. Judas would have listened to Jesus preach and teach sermon after sermon. Judas would have participated in private conversations with Jesus and the disciples about what they had seen and heard Jesus teach about the kingdom of God. Yet, Judas rejected it all. Turned his back on everything God had done in his life. At the end of his life it would be far better for him if he had never been born. Listen carefully, let me say something as lovingly and compassionately as I can. Everyone who lives a life, hears the gospel, yet rejects Jesus and dies will say in hell, “I wish I had never been born!” Here we see the judgement of God on display.
Some of you have an opportunity right now to surrender your life to Jesus Christ as Lord. You have an opportunity to be able to say, “I so glad I was born and I’m more glad that I was born again!”