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.” (John 13:26-30)
The historical context is most important when examining any text of Scripture. This is certainly the case with John 13:26-30. What was the morsel of bread which Jesus gave to Judas?
For the host to dip a piece of bread in the common bowl (or on Passover, no doubt bitter herbs in a container of something sweeter) and hand it to someone was a sign of honor to the person receiving it. Giving the morsel to Judas was also an unspoken answer to John’s question as to the identity of Jesus’ betrayer (John 13:25). Finally, the morsel was also the Lord’s final extension of grace to Judas. The host’s giving a morsel of bread to a guest was a sign of friendship. It is ironic that Jesus’ final act of friendship to Judas signaled Judas’ betrayal of friendship.
Pastor Burk Parsons explains that, “The disciples also became troubled at the words of Jesus concerning His betrayal. They were able to get the disciple whom Jesus loved—John, author of the gospel account we are studying—to ask Jesus to identify the traitor (vv. 22–25). Jesus replied that it would be the man to whom He gave a “morsel of bread” after dipping it (v. 26a). The Greek word translated by “morsel of bread” does not have to mean bread—it can refer to other foods. Some commentators suggest Jesus was actually referring to the bitter herbs that the Jews would dip in the Passover charoset sauce, which was made from fruit. In any case, the passing of the food to a specific person makes the betrayal of Jesus all the more heinous. Hosts of a meal typically did that for the guest of honor, so the one whom Jesus singles out to honor is the same man who hands Him over to death. A greater betrayal can hardly be imagined (v. 26b).”
Judas became so determined to continue down his path to ultimate destruction that John writes, “Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him.” Judas had given himself completely over to Satan’s control and Satan gladly entered this willing vessel.
Jesus then said to Judas “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Jesus was undoubtedly in sovereign control of the events which transpired including Judas’ betrayal. The Apostle John adds that no one else understood why Jesus spoke to Judas in such a manner.
Dr. John Walvoord adds that, “Since no one grasped the significance of Jesus’ words, even the beloved disciple must have missed the intent of the sop until later. As Judas … went out, no one thought anything but good of him. They assumed that he, as the group’s treasurer (cf. 12:6), was going to buy food for the Passover feast or to give something to the poor. He had deceived his peers but not Jesus. And it was night in any other Gospel might simply be a time notice, but in John’s Gospel it probably also has symbolic significance. Judas was leaving the Light (8:12; 12:35, 46) and going out into the darkness of sin (3:19).”
People may deceive us, but not Jesus. We may deceive other people, but not Jesus. Let us resolve to live righteously today and honor the Lord who was dishonored on our behalf.
Soli deo Gloria!