As I’ve mentioned before, harmonizing these passages is a little tough. One question is whether Judas participated in the first communion. Luke seems to imply so, while the other gospel writers seem to say Judas didn’t. It’s just my opinion, but I don’t believe Judas was there, and that Luke for whatever reason didn’t keep things in chronological order.
At any rate, in these passages, Jesus dealt with his betrayer Judas. There are some interesting things to note here. While it was John who sat on one side of Jesus (assuming that he is “the one Jesus loved,” there seems to be a good chance that it was Judas that was on Jesus’ other side. It seems hard to believe that Jesus could say what he did to Judas without the others hearing unless this were so. Unlike most pictures you see of the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples did not sit in chairs. They sat on couches. And when they reclined, they didn’t lean back, rather they leaned to the side, resting on their left elbow, right near the bosom of the person on their left. Thus it seems John was on Jesus’ right, and Judas on Jesus’ left.
Like I said before, to be seated next to Jesus at the table was an honor to the people there. And Jesus let Judas sit next to him. In short, he honored Judas.
Yet despite all of this, Jesus never fooled himself concerning Judas’ true nature. He told the disciples,
I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me. (John 13:21)
This of course, shocked all the disciples, and they started to ask Jesus one by one, “Is it I?” Judas himself asked “Surely not I, Rabbi?” (Matthew 26:25)
Perhaps Judas thought he had fooled Jesus. But Jesus whispered to him, “Yes, it is you.”
Imagine the look of shock that must have come on Judas’ face. He was totally exposed. Perhaps he was afraid that Jesus would now denounce him before his disciples and have him killed. At about that time, Peter nudged John and said, “Ask Jesus who he’s talking about.” (John 13:24)
When John did, Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” (John 13:26)
He then (in the eyes of the other disciples watching) honored Judas once again by offering a morsel of bread to Judas.
To everyone except John, they must have been thinking, “Wow, Judas is more special than we thought!”
Judas himself must have been wondering at all this honor that Jesus was bestowing upon him. Maybe he thought he had misunderstood Jesus. Then Jesus told him,
What you are about to do, do quickly. (John 13:27)
And Judas quickly realized that Jesus knew exactly what was in his heart. And he went to betray Jesus.
What can we learn from this? Two things.
There are people that will betray us. That will hurt us. And it is easy to get bitter against them. To dishonor them as they have dishonored us.
But just as Jesus honored his betrayer, we are to show the same kind of honor and respect to them.
At the same time, however, we should know exactly what kind of person they are. We should not deceive ourselves about what their nature. And we should protect ourselves from them.
When you look at the life of Jesus, he always did this. When people sought to kill him, he got out of there. The only time he didn’t was with Judas, and that was because it was his whole purpose to die. His time had finally come.
But God generally does not call us to submit to abuse from others if we don’t have to. Stay away. Keep your distance. And if that’s not possible for some reason, keep your armor up around them. The chances of them hurting you deeply is much less if you have not fooled yourself concerning their character.
That said, we are called to forgive them. And even more, to treat them with respect and honor. As Peter wrote,
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (I Peter 3:9)