The Bread of Betrayal (Mark 14:17-21)

But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend…

During WWI Alfred Redl was an officer in the Austrian army who sold military secrets to the Russians.  Redl’s treachery included:

  • Providing operational plans to Russia before those operations were carried out
  • Exposing Austrian secret agents resulting in their execution.  
  • downplaying the strength of the Russians to his own country and thus leaving the Austrians underestimating their enemy.  
  • Redl’s betrayal led to the deaths of 500,000 of his countrymen.  

There’s something especially disgusting about betrayers isn’t there?  Betrayal is worse than deserting someone.  When you abandon a friend you let them go through their trouble alone; when you betray them you actively work to  bring that trouble on them.

History has given us notorious betrayers, hasn’t it?  From Brutus to Benedict Arnold, and from Rosenburg to Ames, certain names have become synonomous with “traitor”.  

The Bible has its epic betrayals too doesn’t it?  From Cain, to Absolom to Ahiphethel to Judas.

Have you tasted the bitterness of betrayal?  Do you know the sting of finding out someone you once thought loyal has stabbed you in the back? A business partner, a spouse, a family member or friend, a church, an employee or an employer?  If so, then you are in touch with the mood of this passage.  

Our sermon title today is “The Bread of Betrayal”.  Today we look at the most famous of all betrayers, Judas Iscariot.  He did not take down a tyrant, like Brutus, or cause 500,000 deaths like Redl, or put atomic secrets into the hands of the Soviets like the Rosenbergs.  What makes Judas’ betrayal the most notorious of all time is Who he betrayed:  The Son of God.  Judas betrayed the one singler Person who more than anyone in the universe deserves our devotion.

Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, was chosen by Jesus to be one of His 12 disciples.  He became the ministry treasurer and handled all finances.  He saw every miracle, every demon cast out; He heard every sermon and was in on every private lesson from Jesus.  He saw Jesus’ love for outcasts and sinners, lepers, and tax collectors.  He saw the compassion on multitudes Jesus had when He fed them miraculously more than once.  Judas personally experienced the comfort and protection of Jesus out on the raging seas.  When thousands abandoned Jesus Judas along with the other 11 stayed at Jesus’ side.  When Jesus went back to Jerusalem where everyone knew the leaders wanted Him dead, Judas along with the other 11 went with Him. 

But none of this changed the fact that inside, something wasn’t right about Judas.  Judas we learn stole money regularly from the ministry purse:  “He was a thief” John 12 tells us, “as keeper of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

And Jesus knew it.  He knew it from the very moment He called Judas to follow Him.  He knew it from eternity past that Judas would betray Him.  As the Messianic Psalm 41 said, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread has lifted up his heel against me.”  Hence, “The Bread of Betrayal.”

Our sermon will move through 3 stages:  The Announcement, the Bewilderment, the Condemnation.  The A,B,C’s you might say (Announcement, Bewilderment, Condemnation)


First of all, we see the ANNOUNCEMENT of the Betrayal. Notice verses 17-18, “’….”  Jesus said in John 13 “I am telling you now before it does happen so that when it does happen you believe that I am He.”  (19).  So His foretelling His betrayal has at least one reason:  those 11 faithful disciples will know that He is the Christ, since the Christ was to be betrayed.

Jesus anticipates being betrayed because of His Divine Perception. “I know those I have chosen” He says. One of the attributes of God is that He is all-knowing. He knows everything that can be known. Jesus knows those whom He has chosen to be real genuine believing disciples of His. He knows each one of them entirely inside and out. He knows who Judas is. That’s why He says “I am not referring to all of you.” There is nothing about any of them that He does not know. 

That’s true for us as well. Jesus sees everything there is about us. As God He is all-knowing. We can’t hide anything from Him.

Jesus also knows He’s going to be betrayed not only because of His Divine Perception, but, because it is the Divine Plan. He says In verse 18 “this is to fulfill the Scriptures”, and then He quotes Psalm 41:9, “He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.” 

David wrote this Psalm and he was writing about a man named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was a close friend of David’s. And when David’s son Absalom rebelled against David and overthrew him and took over the throne, Ahithophel joined the rebellion. And so David writes, “Even my close friend, whom I’ve trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” That psalm was based on historical events on David and Ahithophel. But, as Jesus says here, it was a prophetic picture of what was going to happen between Jesus and Judas.

To eat bread with someone was an act of close fellowship. It signified that there was loyalty and friendship between the two people. “It was a most cruel and bitter act to betray someone you ate bread with.” (Barclay). And so the pain and the shock is brought out in David’s Psalm when he says this betrayer “has lifted up his heel against me.” 

We see the same pain and shock in Psalm 55 as well, “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Then in verse 20 we see a picture of Judas, “My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” 

One of the most clear OT prophecies of the betrayal of Christ is found in Zechariah 11:12-13. “If you think it best, give me my pay, but if not, keep it.” This is a prophetic conversation between Judas and the Jewish leaders where he is striking the deal to betray Jesus for a price. It goes on to say, “So they paid me 30 pieces. And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter” – the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter.” 

Do you know what Judas did after the death of Jesus? He took those 30 silver coins they paid him and according to Matthew 27 he went back to the house of the Lord and threw them down. And then do you remember what they did with those 30 silver coins? It says they went and bought a potter’s field….everything happening exactly as the prophecy explained in Zechariah 11.

Why was Jesus telling them this? Why was He giving them the heads up? To strengthen their faith. “I am telling you now so that when it happens you will believe that I am He.” Always the ministry of Jesus to His disciples is to strengthen their faith. They believed that He was the Christ, the Son of God. They believed that He had the words of eternal life. They believed that believing in Him was the only way to have their sins forgiven. 

But, they needed to see that as the Christ, as the Son of God, it was necessary for Him to suffer. It was necessary for Him to be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and elders. They needed to see that that was a part of who the Christ is. 

And so when the Scriptures talk about the Christ’s sufferings and betrayal, and when they see these things happening to the Teacher and their Lord, their faith will be more full and based more fully on the knowledge that Scriptures give concerning the Christ. 

Just as the Scriptures were essential to the building up of the disciple’s faith, so too are they essential for us. Romans 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Then in Acts 20:32, “Now I commit you to God and to the WORD of His grace, which can build you up…”

So Jesus is telling them now, before He is betrayed, before He is arrested, before He is crucified, so that when they saw one of their own closest members betray Him their faith and faithfulness would not be shaken. 

…they would not think that Jesus became a victim and that what was happening to Him was totally thwarting His plans to bring in the kingdom. 

On the contrary, what was happening is exactly what God planned and exactly as God foretold in Scripture. The Scriptures anticipated the Betrayal. Jesus anticipated the betrayal. And now, the disciples needed to begin to anticipate the betrayal. The Betrayal by Judas is anticipated in the upper room that night.

….“And so we conclude that even though Judas’ treachery fit into the plan of God, God did not design him as a treacherous man. That he became by his own choice. God merely designed his treachery into His plan. He didn’t design the treachery.” –John MacArthur


Understandably, the disciples are astonished.  Eleven are astonished at the thought of a betrayal even occurring.  

Now this betrayal has to be seen with a backdrop of commitment. We have seen so far the disciples, including Judas, demonstrate some admirable loyalty. They left everything to follow Jesus. And when the thousands of false disciples abandoned Jesus in John chapter 6, the 12 remained with Him. In chapter 11 when Jesus told the disciples that they needed to go back to Judea so He could raise Lazarus from the dead, the disciples were afraid because the Jews were trying to kill him back there. But, they were loyal and all of them, including Judas, went back with him anyway fully expecting to be killed

This only shows that people can be committed to Jesus for different reasons. And there are wrong reasons to be committed to Jesus. Reasons that are selfish and wholly different than the reason Christ calls people to Himself. He calls us to Himself that we would be cleansed of our sin and made right with God. Devotion to Him on any other grounds will be condemned.

Judas, however, is astonished because he knows Jesus knows what he’s been up to.  But think about it:  Judas was forced to pretend to be astonished like the other disciples.  Judas had to he hiding from the other disciples even though he knew Jesus saw him for who he was.  


Finally we see the CONDEMNATION, read 20-21….  

Never been born.  Only those who suffer speak like that.  It’s like when we say “You’ll wish you were never born” because the pain will be so bad.  

The condemnation of Jesus and Judas is seen here.  Jesus is condemned by men, but approved by God.  Judas is approved by men but condemned by God.  Jesus was faithful and no matter what He endured it would lead to eternal glory.  Judas was faithless and whatever He pursued it would end in eternal condemnation.  

Applications – Lessons from Judas

  1. Make Jesus your treasure, not money or advancement
  2. Do not try to invent your own Jesus.  Don’t reimagine Him.  Submit to God’s will.  Be sure you are hearing and submitting to what Jesus said.  Judas had his own ideas about Jesus.  He wasn’t hearing and submitting to what Jesus said about Himself.  Judas wanted Jesus to be something other than what He was; he wanted Jesus to do something other than what Jesus came to do
  3. Remember God is faithful even when man is not.  Betrayal may happen to you.  It may have happened to you.  Jesus never betrays.   
  4. Trust the Scriptures.  “It will go for the Son of Man how the Scriptures say it will go.”  What the Bible says will happen, will in fact happen.  
  5. Do not give Satan advantage.  Notice the progression with Satan in Judas’ life
    1. First, Judas lived a devil-like life.  When we live in sin we strengthen sin’s power over our lives.  He stole and he lied.  Satan is the thief who comes to kill, steal and destroy.  Judas lived a double-life.  He pretended to be a disciple of Jesus but secretly he stole from Jesus.  He persisted in his secret sin and would not repent.  The whole time he followed Jesus he had more in common with the devil.
    2. Second, he followed the prompting of the devil.  John 13:2 says, “When the evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.”  The devil had an inside man, a man who wouldn’t refuse him.  The more we sin the weaker we get against temptation in other areas.  We get more and more vulnerable.  
    3. Third, the devil actually “possessed” Judas.  John 13:27, “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered into him.”   Soon we become Satan’s pawn (2 Tim. 2:25-6)

Leave a Reply