Daily Devotions


Day 179

The stunned and sorrowful disciples

Text: John 13 : 21 - 38


The Synoptic Gospels record that the Disciples of Jesus were both stunned and sorrowful when Jesus insisted that He was right, and that from the ranks of the Twelve, one would betray Him.

Mark noted in his Gospel the response of the Twelve as Jesus once again brought up the subject of being betrayed.

“And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him
one by one, ‘Is it I?'”
Mark 14:19

Matthew noted that even Judas asked Jesus this question.

“Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said,
‘Rabbi, is it I?’
He said to him, ‘You have said it.'”
Matthew 26:25

Why did each Disciple ask Jesus if he could be the one to betray Him? A number of reasons could be suggested:-

1. Uncertainty

The Disciples were unsure of just how strong they were. Would they stand by Jesus all the way? What if they were under great pressure and they buckled under the weight? That would also be betrayal, wouldn’t it?

2. Fear

That Jesus knew the Disciples better than themselves was obvious. The Disciples feared themselves. Each individual asked Jesus the same question!

3. Clarification

The Disciples must have longed to have Jesus settled the fears that arose. Could He tell each one who asked that he would not be the betrayer?

4. Hiding behind the other Disciples

Then came Judas behind the other disciples. If he did not ask the same question, he would be the odd man out. He figured that it would be wiser to raise the same question as his fellow disciples.

To his great horror, even as Jesus answered his question, he realized that Jesus saw through him. He was the betrayer!


The round of questions that the disciples raised up to Jesus did not yield any satisfactory answers. Thus Peter urged John to ask Jesus to identify the betrayer clearly.

Throughout the Gospel, the author humbly refrained from using his name. He was obviously one of the Twelve. The way he wrote identified him as an eyewitness. His knowledge of the teachings of Jesus would mark him out as a good and close disciple of Jesus who virtually memorized everything that He had taught.

John had a curious way of speaking of himself. Let us consider the following text.

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom,
one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.
Simon Peter therefore mentioned to him to ask who it was
of whom He spoke.”
John 13:23-24

What a beautiful way of describing himself. He would not disclose his name, as if it was of no importance at all. What was important was Jesus! Jesus made the seating arrangements for their meals, and John the disciple was allowed to sit beside Jesus, and to lean on His bosom! No disciple in his right mind would dare to do that if he had not been invited to do that! (The way in which people in Israel dined in the first century was to seat on cushions on a very low table. They would recline as they ate their meals leisurely. Inevitably there would be some who would lean on the bosoms of others).


John did not abuse his privilege. He knew that all the disciples wanted to know who the traitor was. The approach taken by John is most moving.

“Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him,
‘Lord, who is it?'”
John 13:25

John also raised this disturbing question to Jesus. Was he the one who would betray the Master? With bated breath, John waited for Jesus to answer his question.

Gently Jesus answered,

“‘It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread
when I have dipped it.’
And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot,
the son of Simon.”
John 13:26

John knew now who the betrayer was! It was Judas Iscariot! Perplexed, John did not know how to react! Jesus might also have restrained him from reacting!


How deep was the love of Jesus! This was well evidenced as He dipped a piece of bread into gravy and then graciously gave it to Judas! This was an expression of affection from a father to a favourite child, or from a teacher to a favourite pupil!

How deeply this act must have touched John! Right in front of his eyes, Jesus expressed deep affection for the one who would betray Him.