After many years of unchecked rebellion, Absalom made one last attempt to ascend the throne of Israel. When David was notified of hi son's intent, he fled Jerusalem, leaving only 10 of his concubines behind to tend to the palace.
Ahithophel then requested a small army in order to pursue David with the intent of killing him. But Absalom chose to follow the advice of Hushai, a close friend of David, instead of Ahithophel's advice. As a result, David's life was spared and Absalom was killed in the ensuing battle. Ahithophel's shame was so great that he set his house in order and then killed himself. Perhaps he knew that if David were to return to Jerusalem, he would be tried for treason and killed.
This betrayal by one of David's closest officials was the setting in which David wrote Psalm 41. From his heart, he wrote: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9) Betrayal was not a foreign experience to David. He was well-acquainted with it, having walked through it most of his life. And yet the loss of his close friend still affected him.
Likewise, Jesus Christ was also familiar with betrayal. Having experienced rejection and ridicule in ministry, He was no stranger to it. In a similar manner, Judas had advised the capture of Jesus, perhaps believing that something more was in it for him. Judas offered to be the one to hand Jesus over, agreeing with the religious leaders to do the job for only 30 pieces of silver, the lowest price paid for a slave. But once Jesus was handed over to be crucified, Judas realized that he had sent an innocent man to His death. And like Ahithophel, Judas became overwhelmed with grief. He too killed himself. Not only was there remorse for the evil he had done, but he may have realized the other 11 disciples might come after him once they discovered what he had done.
Jesus knew Judas was the one who would betray Him. And yet He still chose Judas do be one of the 12. He still loved Judas, still taught him the ways of the kingdom, still broke bread with him. If he had he lived, Judas may have been reconciled with Jesus, like Peter had been after his denial. But despite the unanswered questions, the truth still stands: Judas' betrayal of Jesus fulfilled the prophetic message that David had written more than 1,000 years before.
As Jesus stated to His disciples the night He was arrested: “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.'” (John 13:18)
Speaking plainly, He then said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me. Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.” (John 13:21-22) The disciples could not understand who would betray Jesus, or why. But, interestingly, just as Judas was going to reveal Jesus to the captors with a gesture of brotherly affection, so Jesus revealed the betrayer to the disciples with a similar gesture of brotherly affection.
As the gospel of John continues: “Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast, he said to Him, 'Lord, who is it?' 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 13:18-26)
Jesus chose not to alter God's plan, just as David did not impede the conspiracy of Ahithophel. Instead, they both allowed God's hand of judgment and justice to move. Jesus was fully aware of His purpose, to fulfill the whole of the Scriptures. This included subjecting Himself to the same pain that David experienced in betrayal. Isaiah spoke well when he stated that the Messiah would be “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)