“I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ ” John 13:18 (NAS)
Jesus, while partaking of His last Passover meal and instituting the Lord’s supper for the congregants of the New Covenant, quotes from a Psalm of David regarding the treachery of a trusted, close friend.
Jesus, in citing this passage, was making clear it was intended to be understood as a prophesy concerning the Christ. Here is the verse Jesus referenced in its entirety: “Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9 (NAS) In reading through the four gospel accounts of this event it’s clear the apostles did not fully understand what was going on, even though to us it seems so apparent. In fact, most of the events in the gospels seem so evident to us of what Jesus was intending that we are puzzled how the apostles could have missed them. The problem was due to inability to appraise it from the proper perspective (and not listening closely). Just prior to invoking this Old Testament quote, Jesus had just washed the disciples’ (apostles’) feet seeking to teach them a lesson about the importance of serving rather than being served. He makes this statement: Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter.” (John 13:7) The evidence they just didn’t get things is offered in Luke’s account of circumstances surrounding the events of the Lord’s supper. After telling them “the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table” (Luke 22:21) which followed Jesus’ lesson in the necessity of serving as recorded in the gospel of John, they not only discussed who the traitor might be, but when on to have “a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be the greatest” ! (Luke 22:24) They weren’t getting it. Jesus reminded them He had come to serve and that would be their purpose as well. In the gospel of John, we have two separate statements recorded of how the apostles wouldn’t get the right focus or understanding until after Jesus’ death, through His resurrection and ascension. “When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:22) and, “These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.” (John 12:16) So, did you know that when Jesus quoted Psalm 41, verse nine, if it had been properly understood, it should have given encouragement to the apostles? It certainly did give encouragement to Jesus! “What?!!!”, you’re saying. Well consider the Psalm in its entirety. David, moved by the Spirit, speaks of the LORD’s ability to deliver one in the day of trouble, protect him, and not hand His beloved over to the desire of his enemies. (Vss 1-3) In verses 5-9 (which includes Jesus’ quote from this section) The psalmist recites the pattern of wicked men when desiring to rid themselves of someone they cannot use for their purposes. They speak evil and falsehood, whispering together and devising hurt, claiming it was some wicked thing that the innocent victim perpetrated that has brought about his demise “that when he lies down, he will not rise up again.” O brethren, doesn’t this sound like exactly what happened to Jesus? Oh yeah, it is a messianic psalm, right? But hear the good stuff that follows: “But Thou, O LORD, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them. By this I know that Thou art pleased with me, because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. As for me, Thou dost uphold me in my integrity, and Thou dost set me in Thy presence forever.” (Psalm 41:10-12) Jesus had the right perspective and proper understanding. Even though being betrayed, He knew what the Father was intending to do because He knew “the rest of the story.” Brethren, do you think as the early church gathered to break bread after Peter had called the first 3000 souls out of the world and into the kingdom of His beloved son, these words might just have come to mind? It certainly seems possible. In Jesus’ resurrection, God disallowed their (and Satan’s) shout of triumph over Him. Just as the Father did with the Son, so He has done for all the sons of God. Satan devised a plan, God brought deliverance through the Christ. He cannot shout in triumph over you since you now stand forever in the presence of God! Amen.