Speaking the Truth in Love

He Went Out

On the eve of the crucifixion, Jesus eats a meal with his disciples. Fixing a troubled gaze on these 12 close friends, the Lord says, “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21). Filled with anxiety, the disciples begin to ask themselves who could do such a thing. Following Peter’s signaled suggestion, John quietly asks, “Lord, who is it?” (v. 25). Jesus identifies Judas by handing him a “morsel,” a piece of bread used to dip food from a shared platter (v. 26).

After Judas Iscariot received the morsel, “he immediately went out; and it was night” (John 13:30). The words “he went out” were significant to the author of the fourth Gospel. Sin drove Judas out, out of fellowship with Jesus and his friends.

Every sinner has stepped into the darkness of separation from God. After Adam disobeyed his Creator in the Garden of Eden, the Lord “drove out the man” (Gen. 3:24). After the cleansing of leprous Naaman in the river Jordan, Gehazi lied to get some of the treasures the Syrian commander had brought to Israel to (as it were) pay for his divine healing. When the prophet Elisha confronted his dishonest servant, Gehazi himself “went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow” (2 Kings 5:27). While Jesus was suffering brutal mistreatment at the hands of the high priest and the Sanhedrin (the Jewish senate and supreme court), Peter waited in the courtyard below, denying with vehement oaths that he even knew who Jesus was. But when the rooster crowed, Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75).

Sin drove Judas Iscariot out into the night of despair, spiritual distance, and self-hatred. He hanged himself, “and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18). But Judas’s self-destruction was his own choice. Jesus came to offer sinners grace and forgiveness, to welcome them back into fellowship with God, back into the light and joy of day.

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