word “betrayed” carries with it the fiercest of human emotions. It happens to
all of us at some time; often, we carry the scars for the rest of our lives.
Consider these examples of betrayal which are so commonplace:
newspapers carry stories of priests who have molested young boys serving
as altar boys.
prisons contain men who were sexually assaulted – by their parents when
they were but children.
many marriages have ended on the announcement of adultery.
these things happen, it produces an anguish which often causes the victim to
say that no one understands the feeling. There is one who understands; Jesus,
the Christ – who was betrayed. He was betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter;
in his hour of torment he was left alone to die.
Holy Bible, New International Version
10Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve,
went to the chief priests to betray
Jesus to them. 11They were delighted to hear this and
promised to give him
money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
17When evening came, Jesus arrived with the
Twelve. 18While they were
reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray
me—one who is eating with me.”
19They were saddened, and one by one they
said to him, “Surely not I?”
20“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl
with me. 21The Son of Man will go just as it is written
about him. But woe to that
man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been
26When they had sung a hymn, they went out
to the Mount of Olives.
27“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I
30“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the
rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if
I have to die with you, I will never
disown you.” And all the others said the same.
41Returning the third time, he said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and
resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the
hands of sinners. 42Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
43Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the
Twelve, appeared. With him was
a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers
the law, and the elders.
44Now the betrayer had arranged a signal
with them: “The one I kiss is the
man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45Going at once to Jesus, Judas
said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then
one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high
priest, cutting off his ear.
48“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords
and clubs to capture me? 49Every day I was with you, teaching in the
courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50Then
everyone deserted him and fled.
66While Peter was below in the courtyard,
one of the servant girls of the high
priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she
looked closely at
“You also were with that
Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
68But he denied it. “I don’t know or
understand what you’re talking about,”
he said, and went out into the entryway.
69When the servant girl saw him there, she
said again to those standing
around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70Again he denied it.
After a little while, those
standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of
them, for you are a Galilean.”
71He began to call down curses on himself,
and he swore to them, “I don’t
know this man you’re talking about.”
72Immediately the rooster crowed the second
time. Then Peter remembered
the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will
disown me three times.” And
he broke down and wept.
Betrayal by Malice
is a curious parallel to Judas found in the Old Testament. His name is
Ahithophel. He was a counselor to King David, who betrayed him during
Absalom’s rebellion. Another counselor, Hushai, thwarted Ahithopel’s plan.
The Scripture sums it up this way: Ahithophel was the king’s counselor;
Hushai was the king’s friend.
night in which King David was betrayed, Ahithophel advised Absalom to pursue
David quickly, before he regained military strength. To force the issue, he
told Absalom to have sex with the concubines David had left behind to tend to
the palace – and to do so publicly. When his plans failed, he committed
suicide, as Judas did. Look and learn:
sign of the betrayer: he counsels sin. He advises you to do that which
man is one who pulls strings – and when the strings break, he commits
suicide rather than face the one he betrayed.
The betrayer’s motives
look at Judas and shake our puzzled heads and ask, “Why?” Why indeed. Here
are some of the reasons Judas had:
– Judas was the outsider in the band of disciples. He was the only one
who was not from Galilee; he is always mentioned last in the lists of the
disciples. If you think yourself important when you are not, this
bitterness can gnaw at you.
- Fear –
the authorities have not been silent on this; the opposition is – in the
world’s view – very strong. Sometimes we like to be sure we’re on the
winning side. Our loyalty is to victory, not truth.
- Shame –
have you ever noticed how Satan will take some past sin and continue to
drag it up – hoping to motivate you to do something else wrong to cover
- Pride –
perhaps Jesus did not take Judas’ wise advice. Often our pride drives us
to sin when we think we are not being heard.
- The addiction of avarice – we know that Judas stole from
the money bag the disciples kept in common. I have known one whose
addiction to heroin caused him to kiss his wife goodbye – as he reached
around into her purse, stole the money she had saved as first and last
month’s rent, and left his wife and baby to starve on the streets.
Avarice can have the same addictive nature.
- Satan –
while we must give him a foothold, when he gets one, he takes the maximum
advantage of it.
The cruelty of betrayal
the Christ, the only sinless person to walk this earth, was betrayed – with a
kiss. The gesture of affection, the normal greeting from a host in his home,
that’s what Judas used. To be betrayed is bad enough; to be betrayed while
your betrayer professes love for you – that carries a bitter sting. Why the
kiss? Scholars have speculated that perhaps Judas thought Jesus would be
forced into calling down heaven’s angels to establish his kingdom . Who can
say? But this much is certain: those who betray by malice are capable of any
can see one thing clearly in this. Like attracts like; or as we might say,
birds of a feather flock together. Judas was evil; ultimately he was drawn to
is for this reason that Jesus sends Judas out on his errand of betrayal before
the supper begins; he is stressing that none but the faithful should
participate. Which brings us to those who denied our Lord – like Peter.
Denial by weakness
reading this passage you cannot miss one thing: Peter’s weakness. Look at the
character of his accuser: a house maid. Women in this time were most
certainly second class citizens; Peter could have stood upon his dignity and
told her to shut up. But his weakness has now flowered. Even a servant girl
can be his accuser, and his only defense is denial.
does God permit this? Simply this: If we are to serve the Lord with all our
heart, should we not know the limits of that heart? After all, if we do not
measure ourselves, then we may be overmatched. Better to admit first that we
are not capable (and ask God for strength to prevail) than to be overborne and
beg God for aid.
Spirit willing, flesh weak
often think how strong our faith would be if we were only to see the risen
Christ. Peter, James and John saw Christ transfigured. Surely this would have
been sufficient for us, right?
in the cold of the night, with only a little fire for light and heat, Peter
finds his love for Jesus balanced against his fears. There is only one cure
for this: the perfect love which drives out fear. Peter did not yet have that
love. Soon he would be fearless – but not this night.
Return of the sinner
please, that Christ returns Peter to the fold. How does this happen?
begins with the anguish of the betrayer. Judas still tries to be
righteous on his own merits, all the way to the end. Peter breaks down
and admits he is not righteous.
those who will admit their sin, our Lord provides forgiveness. The one
who denied him three times that night will become the one all the other
disciples look to as their leader.
is not just forgiveness, however, that our Lord provides. He gives us
another lesson in the faith when he follows forgiveness with
reconciliation. So often we hear, “I forgave that dirty so-and-so,” when
it means forgiveness without reconciliation. Our Lord wants us to do as
He did. That means reconciliation, too.
is a strong parallel in our time. Many marriages shipwreck on the rock of
adultery. We are taught that “having an affair” is enlightening. Satan’s
oldest lie! I have seen the couples where this has happened. The bitterness
is strong, and only God’s love flowing through our reconciliation can restore
such a marriage.
no other section of the Scripture do we see God’s power so clearly displayed as
at the Crucifixion. You might think otherwise, but consider: is it not the
mark of true strength to condescend to weakness? A father is greatly stronger
than his infant son; the true father of strength is gentle. We see God’s
strength here too.
that in the smallest of details God has provided for this act. Judas, the
betrayer, is foreknown – but God’s providence outreaches his plot.
if to say to Judas, “I know about it,” Christ tells him to be on his way.
All is prophesied, long ago.
in the smallest details, God provides. (Read again how they found the
perfect is his providence that he even arranges for the betrayer to leave
the room before he institutes the new covenant.
God’s providence is so great that Jesus announces the existence of the
that the betrayer might have a chance for repentance.
so that the other disciples would see that this was not out of God’s
control – but within his plan.
it shows God’s method: He overcomes evil with good.
Carnal to fall, devilish to stay fallen
knows that we are weak and likely to fall. He knows that this weakness is
particularly a problem when we are alone (which is another reason he provided
us with the church).
at the disciples here: each one asks, “Is it I?” We know in our own hearts
that we are sinners. We know we are capable of betrayal.
is best not to sin at all; but our Lord knows our weakness.
we sin, we need not stay there – but asking our Lord’s mercy, we can
return to his fellowship.
He knows how you feel
may ask why Jesus went through this. Surely all the answers to that would fill
many books. But there is one reason for which I am particularly glad. This
was written for our daily devotional; it seems appropriate for an ending to
you ever been down to the point where the government had to get someone else to
carry your load? A welfare case? Simon of Cyrene carried the cross
for Him. He knows how you feel.
you ever been down to the point where those around you can think of nothing
more to say than, "Buddy, I'll buy you a drink?" They offered
Jesus drugged wine. He knows how you feel.
you ever been to the point where the world takes away even your clothes?
Have you had to watch total strangers pick through what used to be your
clothes? Bankruptcy and the last garage sale, perhaps? They gambled
for His clothes. He knows how you feel.
Have you ever been in trouble with the law? To the point where the
criminals around you gave you a hard time about it? They crucified him
between two thieves, and even they insulted Him. He knows how you feel.
Have you ever been the victim of the insults of the mob? Just those
looking on, laughing at you and calling you names? "Come down from
the cross," they called to Him. He knows how you feel.
Have you ever had the "righteous" people insult you, calling you
names and letting the world know just how rotten they think you are? Even
the religious leaders insulted Him on the cross. He knows how you feel.
He knows how you feel, for it all happened to Him. Even though He had
lived the sinless life, deserving none of this, that's how they treated
Him. So when you feel the world coming down on top of you, whether you
deserve it or not, remember: He knows how you feel.
Take your troubles to Him. Go to Him in prayer and tell Him how it is
within the depths of your soul. There is nothing you can say that He does
not understand, for He is human just like us. There is nothing He cannot
comprehend, for He is God. There is nothing He cannot forgive, for He
went to the cross for you, that you might be forgiven. There is no hurt
too deep for the Christ, by whose wounds you are healed. Love, in its
purest form, awaits you. He knows how you feel.