John 13:21-32 King James Version (KJV)
21 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.
22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
“He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”
Some of you may have noticed by now that I have been using the KJV for my Bible studies and audio sermons of late. This is intentional for a number of reasons.
First, it is in the Public Domain, so it is my understanding that I can reproduce it in any form, electronic or otherwise, without worrying about copyright issues. Second, it is still the preferred version by Christians around the world – for many, the only Authorized version, so I want to respect that preference. Third, because I have been using the Bible my parents gave to me, years ago, when I was fairly newly ordained. I have found it comforting to use during this time of crisis, as if my father – who was an ordained minister and chaplain – and mother are somehow here with me still – guiding me, my family, friends, and congregants through this mess. There’s only one problem: sometimes the language really throws me for a loop. It is “the King’s English,” and so it seems foreign to many, unless you are accustomed to using the King James Version of the Bible: this business of Judas Iscariot receiving “the sop.” What in the world is a sop?
Well, let me clarify. It’s just a crust of bread, a morsel of what they were eating that night. Ah, but as is often true of God’s Word, it’s also much more. Let’s take a look at that.
- This “sop” – this morsel – dipping it into the cup and handing it out to one individual was often the way of recognizing that individual as “the honored guest.” Like the seating arrangement, it signified that the person receiving the morsel was special, unique in some way. How sadly ironic that for this supper of great significance, Judas is the one to receive this designation. He was indeed the most significant one there – but not for the reason those gathered suspected.
- How poignant it is that it is in the breaking of bread and consuming of the cup that Jesus is seen to be who He is at his core. This truth will be revealed again, after the Resurrection, when the disciples who do not recognize the risen Christ see Him with fresh eyes “in the breaking of the bread.” It seems that the bread and the cup are central to the story – before AND after the crucifixion and resurrection. No wonder Christians gather around the Lord’s Table to this day to “remember” Him.
- How powerful it is to note that such a simple act – receiving a small morsel of wine soaked food – becomes the vehicle for Satan to enter and usher in the darkness. Right afterward, Judas leaves to begin the process the final betrayal, and – as John puts it so well – it is “night.” It puts us all on guard as to how simply, quietly, unassumingly, and dangerously the forces of darkness can infect us if we are not vigilant and on guard against them.
- The end game, though – and here is the good news – is not Satan’s victory – but the glorifying of God. Judas didn’t get it, the religious and political authorities didn’t get it, many of the people who had previously followed Jesus and cheered him on didn’t get it, nor did his own closest disciples. Nevertheless, God would be glorified – and the world would be offered salvation – through this process of betrayal. That should all reassure us about how God is ultimately, always in control.
We are halfway through Holy Week – and we have just entered the darkness. It will be a difficult few days before we come into the light and celebrate resurrection. But, for now, let us walk boldly into that darkness, assured of coming out on the other side.
To God Be the Glory.