THE ULTIMATE REWARD
“‘I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
“I am telling you now before it happens so that, when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.'” John 13:18-20 NIV.
Amazing, isn’t it, how often the experience of Jesus paralleled that of His ancestor, David! He often quoted David’s words, or the gospel writers quoted David to show how accurately Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecy. Jesus even cried out in the anguish of His abandonment on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Psalm 41 is one of the psalms which David possibly wrote at some time during the years of his flight from Saul’s murderous jealousy; or perhaps in his reign after a time of serious illness he describes how God sustained him in his weakness and vulnerability in spite of his enemies’ wish that he would die. Even the one closest to him had turned against him and he felt keenly the pain of betrayal.
In a time of intimate fellowship and a tender moment with His disciples before He left them. Jesus was face-to-face with His betrayer. He wanted him to know that He knew what he was about to do. It was a silent plea for Judas to think again. He was also warning the other eleven of what was soon to happen so that they would realize who He was when it happened.
He knew that His lesson on humility and loving service would be lost on Judas who was already so hardened against Jesus and his fellow disciples that the words of Jesus fell on the hard soil of his heart, just like the parable He had told about the sower and the seed. There were important things Jesus needed to tell His disciples before He left them but they would be wasted on the traitor. He hinted at the fact that Judas was no longer included in the company of His followers.
One thing Judas needed to hear, even if it was for the last time, that there is an inseparable union between a disciple, his Master and the Father. The mission Judas was about to embark on was not one on which he was sent by his erstwhile Master. By his own choice that connection had been broken and Judas was on his own, and would have to face the music of his actions alone.
On the other hand, those who went at the bidding of their Master, showed that they enjoyed the oneness with the Master and the Father which Jesus had already proved by His obedience to the Father’s will. To accept and submit to Jesus’ authority was to submit to the authority of the Father. Now Jesus takes it a step further, to accept the one whom Jesus sends is the same as accepting Him, and to accept Him is to accept the one who sent Him.
This puts the follower of Jesus in a very secure position. Although the Father required of Jesus obedience that went as far as giving Himself as a sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world, Jesus knew that it would not end there. He was destined for a position in the universe higher than any other. In the same way, although He may call His followers to deprivation and suffering in this life, He has guaranteed us eternal life because He rose from the dead and will never die again.
How tragic that Judas was willing to forfeit all of this for a reason only he knew. Was he trying to force Jesus to make a move against the Romans and fufill his and their dreams for a kingdom free from Roman oppression? Was he only motivated by greed and the bag of silver the religious hierarchy had offered him for handing Jesus over to them?
Whatever his reason, it could never match the grandeur of the future prepared for those who faithfully follow the Messiah. There may be trials to endure but, as the apostle Paul said, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ” 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18 NIV.