September 10, Saturday

UlyssesWangEditor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotional for September 10-11 are written by Pastor Ulysses Wang who are now serving at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.

Devotional Thought for Today

John 13:21-30

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. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

10Of all people, Jesus knew what this meant: “With friends like you, who needs enemies.”  Maybe you can relate to it as well.  Allow me to explain.

This passage follows closely on the heels of v.18 – “But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me’” – where Jesus explicitly connects the betrayal that He was about to experience with the fulfillment of Psalm 41:9. What is less obvious is the understanding that the act of eating bread together implies friendship, which David, the author of this particular psalm, makes clear from the first half of v.9 (which Jesus left out): “Even my close friend in whom I have trusted…”

What this should remind us of is the fact that Judas was a close friend of Jesus. It’s tempting to view the entirety of Judas’ life through the lens of his final act of betrayal. He’s the one with the shifty eyes, slicked-back hair and bad cheek scar. The only reason Jesus put up with this most obvious of villains was because He knew the role Judas was to play in the Father’s plan. I don’t believe this version of events to be true at all.  Judas was Jesus’ friend; in fact, that’s what He called Judas – “Friend” (Matt. 26:50) – right after he kissed the Lord as a signal to those who came to arrest him.  He was right alongside Jesus and the other disciples when they ministered hour after hour to the masses, enduring tiredness and hunger. When Jesus had no place to lay His head, neither did He. He was responsible enough to be entrusted with the moneybag. He talked, walked and laughed with Jesus.

I say all this to make a point – Jesus was betrayed by a friend, not an arch-nemesis out to get Him from the beginning, and if you’ve ever experienced the deep pain that comes from this kind of betrayal, you are not alone.  In fact, He would experience betrayal several more times before His death: the rest of His disciples fled at His arrest; Peter denied knowing Him three times.  Jesus knows what it’s like to be burned and burned bad.

William Blake once said, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement. Are you holding on to unforgiveness in your heart because of past sins committed against you? Were you wounded by a friend? A family member? A brother or sister in the church? Let us find comfort in our Savior, who is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but has experienced firsthand our pain and suffering. Ask Him for the power to forgive as He forgave and to release those who have hurt you from the grip of personal judgment.

Prayer: Jesus, You didn’t go to the cross solely through the work of the devil, but through the actions of a friend. Help me to move towards the power of forgiveness that is offered to me, as I seek to forgive as you forgave. Thank you that you do not belittle my past hurts, but rather, that You empathize with the reality of my pain. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Luke 20-21


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