Posted by: mattcolvin | April 5, 2012

On Judas and the Sop


Good Friday: John 13:21-30.

It is one of the most intimate and simultaneously awe-inspiring passages in the Bible: Jesus predicts His betrayal at the Last Supper.

In 13:19, Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9. Here’s the larger context of that line, just in case there may be some Richard Hays-style metalempsis at work:

All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt.
8 “An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him.
And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.”
9 Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

We know from other utterances of Jesus that He knew He would rise again. Did He also know that He would be betrayed from the same source – i.e. not only a miraculous intuition, but also a grasp of the Scripture’s prophecies about Him?

13:22 – “The disciples looked at each other, at a loss concerning whom He was speaking.” The disciples, that is, except for Judas, who knew all too well what he was going to do.

13:23 – “The beloved disciple” is ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. This stresses the intimacy and love between the master and disciple, much as Jesus is “in the bosom of the Father” in John 1:18.

13:24 – Simon Peter νεύει, “nods” to the beloved disciple to inquire who Jesus means. Note the wordless communication of the disciples.

13:26 – Jesus says that it is the one to whom He gives a ψωμίον, a morsel (not a “sop”, pace many translations). This is an interesting word. I have blogged about it before. There is also a possible Passover connection: the Rabbis held that in order to fulfill the command to partake of required Passover foods, one had to consume a minimum portion, stipulated as “the size of an olive.”

13:27 – Satan entered into Judas “after the morsel”. Why then?

13:28-29 – As so often, the gospels are careful to tell us when the disciples are clueless. It is interesting to wonder when they were corrected about what Jesus told Judas. But perhaps Peter and the beloved disciple heard it clearly.

13:30 – Judas goes out: out from the Passover, out from the fellowship of the disciples, out from the unity of the havurah, out from the light of the upper room, out from the presence of the Lord.

C.S. Lewis rightly comments that the little phrase “and it was night” (ἦν δὲ νύξ) is one of the most unforgettable in all literature. Now the events of the climax of the covenant are set irrevocably on their way.


  1. […] Matt Colvin has some comments on this passage here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s