John 13:18-30 The Sovereignty of God in the betrayal by Judas

Judas has become a pop-icon as of late with 125 million views of Lady Gaga’s tribute to Judas the betrayer.  The way Lady Gaga has explained her song gives a different picture than the Bible.  “It’s about leaving your darkness behind in order to come into the light,” she added the other day. “I have a lot of things that have haunted me from my past – choices, men, drug abuse, being afraid to go back to New York, confronting old romances – and Judas represents, for me, something that is bad for me that I can’t escape. I keep going back and forth between the darkness and the light in order to understand who I am.”

Is this the picture we are supposed to see when we look to Judas?  Is Judas something we cannot escape?  The question that I infer is, “was Judas a good guy and Satan was pulling at him to enter into darkenss, or was he walking in line with Satan from the start?

The Big Idea:

Through the betrayal of Judas God displays his sovereignty and plan over even the worst of sins.

The Context:

How did we get to that big idea?  It begins here.  These are the final days of Jesus life.  He has just finished his public ministry in chapter 12 and now he resigns to spend the last hours with those closet to him.  His first act?  He gives them an example of humility to follow.  He washes their feet, but he adds this caveat in v10-11, “10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,1 but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

The Bridge:

This leads us into the conversation Jesus will give enlightening the rest of the group to the events that will unfold and who will reveal his location and hand him over to the authorities.  During the conversation he is asked who will betray him and he reposnds by saying, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.”  And he turned and gave it to Judas.

The Climax:

In verse 27 we see the climax of this interaction and the answer to Lady Gagas struggle.  She says that it is this back and forth struggle between darkenss and light represented by Judas.

Are we to believe Judas struggled with his choices and Satan took him over for his own purposes, or does the Bible reveal that there wasn’t a struggle but rather Judas was a liar, thief, and son of disobedience the entire time?

Back o the story we see Judas takes the bread and at that moment, “SATAN ENTERED JUDAS.”  Most of this section is my interaction with John Pipers chapter in Spectacular Sins.  He raises three questions and each will hopefully point us to the sovereignty of God in the midst of wickedness and pain and we will be able to respond- “ you meant it for evil but God meant it for good”(Gen. 50:20).

The three questions that arise from this are:

Did Satan mess up a good man?

Why would Satan do this?  Doesn’t he know this is suicide? 

Where was God in this?  What was his role/non-role in this?


I want to focus on the first one as it relates to Gagas metaphor.

Immediate Context

In the immidate context we can look back to John 13:10 where he says not all of you are clean.  What did Jesus mean by that?  If we look into John 13:5-11 there is an incredible interaction with Peter about the importance of being washed and of a continued foot washing.  The meaning seems to go beyond the overarching message of humility to something deeper.  His wordsare strong.  V.8 “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  If we believe this to be referencing justification it makes sense.  If we are not justified and are bathed in Christ we are not connected to him.  We need to be washed by the blood of the lamb.  After this Jesus makes a remarkable statement that we saw earlier-… “And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”  If it is accurate to say this is a reference to justification, Jesus (infinite in wisdom) acknowledges that Judas has not been washed nor will he be washed.

 Broader Context

Well you might say that just happened.  Judas was with Jesus for 3 years.  He was sent out by Jesus and was completely innocent until this moment.  We will widen the scope a little more.  Just a few days earliers the apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that Judas was a thief. He stole from the moneybags and he questioned why Mary would use such expense perfume for such a ridiculous purpose as to clean feet.  His heart wasn’t for the expansion of Christs kingom, but for the enlargement of his pockets.  He loved the power—he did cast out demons in Jeus name, his feet were washed, and yet we are to question his motives in all of this.


Even this though is relateively close.  This is the end of Jesus public ministry.  Maybe Judas was a good guy who slowly opened his heart to wickedness.  Maybe Judas was being corrupted more and more in these last days of Jesus’ ministry.

 Overall Book of John 

In John 6 we see a different picture.  During Jeus ministry he turns to his disciples and asks a question after a challenging sermon on being the bread of life.  The dcsiiples grumbled and Jesus asks if they want to leave.  Peter quickly reponds, but Jesus sees their hearts.  All of them, and   70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.”  Even towards the beginning of his ministry Judas was evil at his core.

 Historical Prophecy

We can even go back 600 years to Psalm 41:9 which is a direct quotation from John 13:18, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,4 ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’  In complete knowledge of what Judas will do-Jesus accepts him into the fold.  This is God’s sovereign plan.  This is what must take place.  You will be betrayed by one of your closest friends and disciples.  This is my plan for the salvation of the world.



Ephesians 2:1-3 sheds light into the relationship of one who is walking in darkness and on the metaphor of being torn between darkness and light.  In his book Spectacular Sins, John Piper says this about the relationship of those without Christ to Satan.

“Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one”(Piper, pg 99-100).



“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.  Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”  (Prayer of Thomas Aquinas)

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