In 2019, art exhibitions worldwide commemorated the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. While many of his drawings and scientific discoveries were showcased, there are only five finished paintings universally credited to da Vinci, including The Last Supper.
This intricate mural depicts the final meal Jesus ate with His disciples, as described in the gospel of John. The painting captures the disciples’ confusion at Jesus’ statement, “One of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21). Perplexed, the disciples discussed who the betrayer might be—while Judas quietly slipped out into the night to alert the authorities of the whereabouts of his teacher and friend.
Betrayed. The pain of Judas’ treachery is evident in Jesus’ words, “He who shared my bread has turned against me” (v. 18). A friend close enough to share a meal used that connection to harm Jesus.
Each of us has likely experienced a friend’s betrayal. How can we respond to such pain? Psalm 41:9, which Jesus quoted to indicate His betrayer was present during the shared meal (John 13:18), offers hope. After David poured out his anguish at a close friend’s duplicity, he took solace in God’s love and presence that would uphold and set him in God’s presence forever (Psalm 41:11–12).
When friends disappoint, we can find comfort knowing God’s sustaining love and His empowering presence will be with us to help us endure even the most devastating pain.
Both Psalm 41:9 and John 13 point to Jesus’ betrayal. In John we learn the betrayer is Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples (13:26–27). His name is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Judah; and he’s believed to be from Kerioth, a town located south of Jerusalem in Judea. As such, he’s the only non-Galilean of the disciples. Judas was the group’s treasurer (v. 29) and “used to help himself to what was put into [the money bags]” (12:6). Although he sold out Jesus to the authorities for thirty pieces of silver, it’s likely that his motive was his disappointment that Jesus didn’t conform to the popular idea of a Messiah who would free the Jews from their Roman oppressors.