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How Does Jesus Use Psalm 41:9 in John 13:18?

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asked Oct 24, 2017 in Psalms by plainplow (1,440 points)
Jesus uses David's lament about his familiar friend raising his heel against him from Psalm 41:9. But how and why?

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answered Oct 24, 2017 by bible-answers (3,520 points)

I think we’re all aware that Jesus uses Psalm 41:9 in John 13:18.

Jesus washed the disciples' feet

In John 13 Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. And he uses that to explain to them that we ought to take on the position of a servant and serve each other – just like our Master did for his servants.

Jesus clarifies his statement

But then Jesus clarifies – because Judas is still there with them – and he says in John 13:18 – listen to it – “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” 

And of course, Jesus is speaking there of Judas – who would shortly betray him. Jesus knew whom he chose of those disciples – and he knew who would betray him.

Judas lifted his heel against Jesus

And by betraying the Son of God, Judas lifted his heel against him. There they were at the Last Supper. And Judas was literally eating Jesus’ bread. But in just a short while Judas was going to do his part to squish Jesus like a bug – by handing him over to his executioners.

John 13:18 fulfills Psalm 41:9

And in that sense, Jesus says that the Scripture would be fulfilled. And we’ve struggled with what exactly that means as we see Old Testament statements appear in the New Testament. How is Psalm 41:9 fulfilled in Judas’ betrayal of Jesus?

What fulfillment does not mean

I don’t think it means that Psalm 41:9 was written solely so that Jesus could use it of Judas. I think that Psalm 41:9 has meaning apart from what Jesus says in John 13:18. It has an original context and meaning that are important apart from how Jesus uses it.

How John 13:18 fulfills Psalm 41:9

But I think what it means that Psalm 41:9 is fulfilled in Jesus’ circumstance with Judas is this. Jesus embodies the ultimate good qualities that David spoke of concerning himself. If David considered the poor, how much more did Jesus? If David was therefore blessed of God on the earth, then how much more did Jesus deserve that blessing? And in the hour of Jesus’ troubles – if his ancestor David had so-called friends who would betray him and try to destroy him – how much more did David’s son Jesus Christ experience those realities? 

So, Psalm 41:9 is fulfilled in Jesus’ life in the sense that it finds its ultimate fleshing-out in the life of Jesus Christ.