“Et tu, Brute?” (Part 2 of 2)

In case you missed it, here is Part 1.

(Context: In looking at the concept of betrayal and treason, we look at the famed story of the Judas’ Kiss, focusing in on whether or not Judas would’ve been seen as a traitor before the event took place. The significance of this is great, for if he was seen as a trusted friend, being betrayed by him would’ve sorely wounded Jesus at an emotional level, even more than the wounding of the physical torture He was to undergo.)

Judas was also near to the inner circle, it would seem. Let’s take a look at the crucial events that occur at the Last Supper, on the night that Judas was to betray Jesus:

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. (John 13:21-28)

In Matthew we see a slightly different angle on this, as he quotes Jesus: “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me” (Matthew 26:23). Both phrases can be harmonized, as Jesus dipped his bread into the dish (perhaps full of olive oil, a meat stew, or even wine) Judas reached over to dip his bread in at the same time. Once Jesus pronounced the way to identify the betrayer among the disciples, He handed his bread to Judas.

Can you tell which one is Judas?

The people in Jesus’ time did not eat off of high tables, neither did they have chairs as we do. Instead they sat on the ground around a large spread in between, perhaps on a low table or on a rug, where everyone had shared plates between them of bread, herbs, meat dishes, olive oil, and wine.

It distinctly says that Judas “dipped his hand in the dish with [Jesus]”, meaning he was likely closer to him than others. I would suppose that he was either across from Jesus, or right next to him; I am also supposing that the spread would include multiple dishes of the same dish in order to make the eating process easier.

When Jesus stated that one among them would betray Him, none of them pointed the finger at Judas. It had been entirely hidden from everyone, including Jesus – it was not until the Holy Spirit instructed Christ on this that He knew, I would venture to say. Judas might actually be one of the last people the disciples would have pointed at. That is why “no one at the table knew why he said this to [Judas]”, as Christ pointed him out as the bad apple.

Clearly Judas had played his cards very well, and his poker face was intact all the way until the dreaded “Judas Kiss”. It is not until very late that night, when Judas arrives with a troop of Jerusalem’s rabble rousers and leaders that the disciples realize what he had done. Here is where Christ utters the famous words: “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48). Essentially he was stating: “Et tu, Brute?”, although not because He was surprised, but because He wanted Judas to realize the horror of what he had just done.

In Psalm 41, an important Messianic Psalm, we see a phrase encapsulates this entire between Jesus and Judas episode in a single verse.

Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9)

This verse is no accident, it is prophetic, and although it did apply partly to David, it applied fully to Christ. Judas had been close to Christ, He had trusted him with the money for the group, and shared all He had with him. He had given Judas that piece of dipped break in order to symbolize the heartbreak Jesus felt at the coming betrayal and to symbolize the fulfillment of a prophecy. It was no outsider who opened the door that lead down the long, dark and terrible road to Golgotha, it was His very own friend.

I have never had to experience something like this, yet I can appreciate how terrible it must be like. It would be like having your heart cut from the inside, a bullet ripping out of you, and he who was once your friend standing over you and laughing at you as you crumble under the deceit, pain, and devastation of a traitor. We might argue that the emotional pain that Christ suffered at the hand of Judas was rivaled only by the darkness that stared at Him as the Father hid His face from His dying Son.

Yet this is not how the story ends, just think – Jesus offered such a one as Judas forgiveness and redemption. In Jesus’ last words to Judas, He calls him “Friend” (Matthew 26:50), and I can only think of this as an opportunity, a second chance. In a way it might be understood as Jesus saying: “My friend, you did what the prophecies required of you, now repent and all will be forgiven you.” This is simply unbelievable, incredible, and so contrary to human nature – thus it would define exactly who our Savior is who prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” from the cross, speaking of the ruthless Roman soldiers and even the religious leaders.

This is grace – unbounded, undeserved, unrelenting, universal, and all-powerful grace of God. I am as Judas, and so are we all, undeserving betrayers of the Savior, who have once and many even now lived as if He did not exist, using His gifts yet taking the credit. I am as Judas, and so are we all, those who knowing Him sin constantly, yet we return repentant and there He is still, with arms wide open. He is long-suffering, forever forgiving, for the price He paid covered it all, and the scars are both on His hands and in His soul.

Thank you Jesus! Help us to not betray, forget, or despise You and the wonderful grace by which we are made your friends, brothers, and co-heirs of eternal blessing.

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