Warning to Judas and Peter - John 13:21-38

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 3:18

God knows our weaknesses and failures and loves us in spite of them. Jesus' dealing with Judas and with Peter shows this very clearly. In His tenderness toward Judas we see His love for the unbeliever and desire to win him. And in His conversation with Peter we may detect His yearning for the wayward and backsliding believer.


John 33:21-30

(a) God knows every thought which passes through the hearts of men. He looked down into Judas' heart and saw there the unbelief, the bitterness, the hatred, which were not apparent to the disciples. Satan had already put it into his heart to betray Jesus, and as he sat there with that terrible thought eating like a canker into his heart Jesus read his thoughts as an open book. So He reads all hearts,— "God seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart." I Sam. 16:7; Prov. 31:2; Prov. 34:12.

(b) The unbelief which Jesus detected in Judas troubled Him. He had chosen him as one of His disciples. He had walked and talked with Him. He had sought lovingly and tenderly to lead him out of darkness into light. But Judas had not responded. He had continued in his blindness and unbelief, and now the climax of his sin was to be reached in his betrayal of the One Who loved him. Jesus was troubled in spirit. He did not fear the death of the Cross. That was the purpose for which He had come. And though the unfaithfulness of a friend distressed Him that was probably not the main cause of His grief. He was troubled because of the condenmation which must come upon the one for whom He yearned. Ps. 41:9; Ezek. 18:33,32.

(c) Jesus made a final loving attempt lo save this poor sin-blinded man. He did not give the sop to Judas as a mere hit of child-play. He might have spoken out plainly and told who it was who should betray Him but He chose to indicate it by giving him a "sop." This was as good as saying to Judas, "See, poor man, I know all about it, but I love you just the same and am eager to do you good." But Judas would not believe, in spite of all Jesus' tenderness toward him. He rejected the Lord Jesus for the last time and clung to his sin. Ps. 86:5, 15; Ps. 103:8.

(d) When men finally reject the loving offers of Cod he confirms them in their unbelief. "After the sop Satan entered into Judas." Evidently Ciod had been restraining him before. He had been permitted to tempt and try Judas as he does all men, but God had held him back from taking full possession of him. However, when the last effort to win Judas had failed, the Devil was permitted to work out his evil purpose through the instrument of his choice. "Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest do quickly." God not only gives Judas up, but the Son of God recognizes that He cannot do more for him than he has done. So many men today are rejecting the Saviour and persisting in their unbelief. They resist all His attempts to win them, and the dav is coming when God will confirm them in their hardness of heart. He will be compelled through their unbelief to relinquish them to judgment. Not that the opportunity of men will end while life remains, at least, not during this age, but their life will end. And "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after that the judgment." Heb. 9:27; II Thes. 2:10-12.

(e) Judas went out from the presence of the Lord into the night. God does not use words uselessly. There is a terrible significance in those words "and it was night." This is a picture of the judgment of unbelievers. They are banished from the presence of the Lord. They are cast into "outer darkness" where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. But God does not condemn them until after He has done all in His power to save them. Therein lies the tragedy of that judgment which all unbelievers must suffer. II Pet. 3:9; Matt. 25:30; Matt. 23:13; II Thes. 1:7-10.


John 33:31-38

(a) After Judas had departed Jesus gave a prophecy of His coming glory. Perhaps He referred to the fact that the cross, whose shadows now fell so darkly upon that little company, was the place where His glory was to be accomplished. But did He not also look beyond the shadow to the Kingdom? Consider what a picture was presented. The man of sin had just been thrust forth from their presence. Now Jesus is alone with His followers in perfect fellowship. What a clear glimpse of His Kingdom glory that affords us. Then Antichrist, the man of sin, shall have been judged. Satan shall have been bound, and within the inner room of His Kingdom Jesus will "rather His people about Him in perfect fellowship. Rev. 19:11 to 20:4, inclusive.

(b) But Jesus turns from the glory to tell His disciples of the impending testing. He tells them that He will be with them only a little while longer, and then they will seek Him and will not find Him. He knows the testing which they must suffer when their Lord shall be taken from them, and He seeks to prepare them for it. How gently He touches upon that coming grief! But that testing which the disciples endured during the hours following the cross has also come to believers since His ascension. We are living in the time of our Lord's absence. Perhaps our hearts faint with waiting for Him. Let us be not discouraged. As the gloom of the Cross was dispelled by the glory of the resurrection, so the clouds which now hide His face from our sight, will one day be dissolved in the joy of His return. I Pet. 1:7-8; Rom. 8:18-23; Phil. 3:20-21.

(c) In the meantime Jesus left a loving appeal with His followers. He appealed for them to love one another. He realized that the faith of some might fail and He was eager that the others might strengthen them. So while we are waiting for His return, we should comfort and strengthen one another. Surely God is glorified when His children manifest such love one toward the other as to make men realize that they are truly His disciples. Gal. 6:1; I Jno. 4:11; I Jno. 3:1-3.

(d) But the time of waiting was to be merged into the blessing of eternal fellowship with Himself. Jesus said to Peter, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterwards." Jesus must descend into the valley of the shadow of death alone. He alone must bear the crushing burden of this world's sin. But now all who believe in Him are identified with Him in His death. And if we are identified with Him in His death, we shall be eternally with Him in the glorious fellowship of the resurrection. God counts that the believer died in Christ. He says that his sin was judged in Him. And "if we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall also live with Him." (Rom. 6:8.)

(e) Until the day when Jesus comes to receive us unto Himself there are dangers which threaten us and which we need to guard against. Peter, in all sincerity, said that he would even die for Christ, but he was in danger of denying his Lord. Jesus tenderly rebuked his self-confidence by telling him of the heart-breaking experience he was about to suffer. Fellow believers in our blessed Lord, we need to watch, for, as in the case of Peter, we may truly love Him and yet in an hour of weakness we may deny Him by sin in the -life. Such an experience would not cause us to be lost, so great and so wonderful is His love for us, but if we should be so unfortunate, the joy of our salvation Would be swallowed up in the bitter agony of broken fellowship. Let us seek constantly to live so close to Jesus, and in such utter dependence upon Him, that He can keep us from falling and manifest through us His power and love. It is noteworthy that Peter, in spite of the coming^ manifestation of weakness, was not banished into outer darkness as Judas was. Jno. 6:37; Ps. 51:12; Matt. 26:41.