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Selections from Mark  14

The 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:

  • The newspapers carry stories of priests who have molested young boys serving as altar boys.
  • Our prisons contain men who were sexually assaulted – by their parents when they were but children.
  • Many, many marriages have ended on the announcement of adultery.

When 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.

The 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 will not.”

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 of
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 temple
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

There 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.

The 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:

  • The sign of the betrayer: he counsels sin. He advises you to do that which is wrong.
  • The 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

We look at Judas and shake our puzzled heads and ask, “Why?” Why indeed. Here are some of the reasons Judas had:

  • Bitterness – 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 your shame?
  • 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

Jesus, 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 low act.

We 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 evil people.

It 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

When 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.

Why 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

We 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?

But 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

Note, please, that Christ returns Peter to the fold. How does this happen?

  • It 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.
  • For 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.
  • It 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.

There 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.

God’s Power

In 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.

God’s providence

Note that in the smallest of details God has provided for this act. Judas, the betrayer, is foreknown – but God’s providence outreaches his plot.

  • As if to say to Judas, “I know about it,” Christ tells him to be on his way. All is prophesied, long ago.
  • Even in the smallest details, God provides. (Read again how they found the upper room).
  • So perfect is his providence that he even arranges for the betrayer to leave the room before he institutes the new covenant.

Indeed, God’s providence is so great that Jesus announces the existence of the betrayer. Why?

  • First, that the betrayer might have a chance for repentance.
  • Second, so that the other disciples would see that this was not out of God’s control – but within his plan.
  • Finally, it shows God’s method: He overcomes evil with good.
Carnal to fall, devilish to stay fallen

Christ 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).

Look 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.

  • It is best not to sin at all; but our Lord knows our weakness.
  • When we sin, we need not stay there – but asking our Lord’s mercy, we can return to his fellowship.
He knows how you feel

Some 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 today’s lesson.

Have 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.


Have 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.


Have 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.

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