John 13

Today’s devotional reading comes to us from John 13.

How could the disciples ask Jesus who would betray him (vv. 21-25), see a very clear indicator that Judas would be the one who betrayed him (vv. 26-27), but not be able to understand (vv. 28-29)?

One reason is, of course, spiritual blindness. There were many events in the life of Christ that were clear but not comprehended by the disciples of Jesus. This is, in one sense, merely one more of those.

But another reason is that Judas sure seemed like an authentic disciple. He did all the works the other disciples did. He seemed as genuine and pious as them all. This is why no one stood up and said, “I knew it!” when they saw Jesus hand Judas the bread (vv. 26-27). Instead of seeing who the sign Jesus gave them pointed to, they devised a more plausible explanation (v. 29).

This shows us how difficult it can be to distinguish genuine believers in Christ from the impostors masquerading among us. Some impostors will be revealed by sin and a lack of repentance as we saw here in Judas’s life. But other impostors, the scriptures seem to indicate, will successfully deceive everyone else and even themselves right up until the day of judgment (see Matt 7:21-22).

This should make us careful about questioning the salvation of others. Judas betrayed Jesus but Peter denied him (vv. 37-38). Those were not the same sin or even equivalent in wickedness but they both looked like unbelievers in the moment. So when people we love and respect sin, watch for repentance rather than assuming or suspecting unbelief in Christ.

These stories should give us pause, though. While assurance of salvation is real and really important, the Bible teaches that there are impostors among us. Search your heart and soul and be certain of your own faith in Christ. Then love other Christians and live for Christ to demonstrate your genuine faith in him (vv. 34-35).