Betrayal is not a hot topic. Many people cringe at the sound of the word, because all of us have been betrayed by someone we love and it hurts deeply.
So, why talk about betrayal?
Because it is absolutely rampant in human relationships, it literally destroys lives, and although it may be painful or hard to talk about, we can learn our deepest lessons through the most painful experiences.
In talking about the subject of betrayal, it can be helpful to look deeper into the psychology behind a famous betrayer. Perhaps the most widespread story and act of betrayal came from a man named Judas. For those not familiar, Judas was one of the 12 disciples, and the one who infamously betrayed Jesus Christ.
I would like to address 4 key things in talking about the story of Judas:
In order to betray somebody, there has to first be or some kind of trust or relationship that is built. If a stranger on the street walks by and curses me, I might feel a lot of things, yet betrayal will not be on mind, because there had been no previous connection made that rooted trust in each other. Judas had spent years traveling with Jesus, eating meal after meal together, sharing laughs, saw miracles happen, watched him calm stormy seas, saw withered hands be healed, and saw dead men rise. Connection had been made. Judas was there in the midst of life with Jesus, but even with this connection something was not quite right. We read in John 12:2-6, "A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”
Sounds noble of Judas right?
The real truth is that Judas was the treasurer who controlled the money bag for the disciples, and he would often steal some for himself as he saw fit. Judas saw this wasted perfume as a missed opportunity to get more of what he wanted, money. (John 12:1-18) Judas created a world in which he looked noble, and people praised him or trusted him for being so thoughtful about the poor. Sadly though, no matter what the perception was, Judas actually used the poor and manipulated their situations into getting something for himself. His whole world was built upon a foundation of deception. People may have often watched while Judas reached down to give to the poor, while unnoticed by the same people slipped some of the intended donations for the poor into his own pocket.
It is important to note that although Judas had others fooled, Jesus knew, yet chose not to reveal Judas' true nature until the right time. It is recorded in John 6:68-71, "Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!” Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is the Devil!” I imagine the shock on the disciples faces whenever Jesus said this, they looked around at each other with all kinds of thoughts swirling in their minds...Was it Thomas? he seems to doubt a lot...Was it Peter? He can be a hothead. Maybe it was John? He is a bit proud sometimes...
"His disciples stared at one another. They had no idea which one of them He meant." - John 13:21-22
...Perhaps no one even assumed it was Judas, or maybe everyone thought it was Judas. Nonetheless, it was not revealed at that time who the "devil one" was. If you were to insert yourself as one of these disciples, which one would you be? Are you the Judas? The backdoor dealer, the liar, the snake in the green grass with completely evil intentions, yet you mask yourself in good intentions and good deeds, while behind scenes operating as a completely different person. Or are you one of the other disciples? Perhaps you struggle with pride, lust, or self-doubt, yet are making conscious decisions to try your best to follow Christ.
As I am writing this blog I learned that one of the greatest college football coaches in the history of the game, Bobby Bowden, passed away from cancer. Not only was he a great coach, he was a devout follower of Christ. I grew up in the Tallahassee area where he coached so I would often see him at events speaking and one thing he said one time was that the older he got the more mature he became and as a result of intentionally following Christ he "sinned a lot less than when he was younger." Another word for this is sanctification. We all struggle, yet each one of us must be willing to take steps to change.
Jesus does the saving, and we have to do the obeying.
Judas had so many opportunities to change his ways and be the one He was called to be, but he chose not to truly follow Christ. How sad to be so physically close to Jesus, to be one of the chosen 12 that ended up in Jesus' inner circle, yet because of his own selfishness, pride, and greed he missed out on the most precious gift of all, Jesus.
Fast forward in the story and we find Jesus with some of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane where they were praying...Jesus declared this in Mark 14:42-46 "Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss. Luke 22:48 quotes Jesus saying, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
The "devil one" was now revealed.
Even though Jesus warned them about a betrayer among them, it had now become real, and all the dinners, the laughs, the moments each one had shared with Judas became a lie in their minds, trust was broken, hearts were broken, and righteous anger rose up in them at the revelation of thier betrayer.
All TRUST was shattered in to a million pieces.
The air was fraught with tension and we read this in Matthew 26:50-56:
"Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him. At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels?
How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?” At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture Me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple complex, and you didn’t arrest Me. But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away."
So, in this moment Jesus was betrayed, by not just Judas, but all the disciples deserted him.
All of his closest friends ran away. Another prophetic scripture says it this way, "All we like sheep have gone astray." (Isaiah 53:6) This was the very reason Jesus had to die because we are all sinners in need of a Savior.
Jesus could have prayed and been rescued from the situation He was in, but instead His prayers helped him through the situation. Many times we pray for rescue out of a situation, but we need to pray God would get us through a situation, as to accomplish His will. He will give us the strength to overcome, because He is the Savior.
2. FALSE INTIMACY
When we think of betrayal we often think of derogatory words like, "backstabber", "liar", or "deceiver", yet I want to focus on a different word, "kiss."
Jesus was betrayed with a kiss.
Why did Judas choose to kiss Jesus when he was in the very act of betraying him? He could have merely pointed at him, and identified him, or maybe he could have sucker punched him right in the gut, because that is probably what it felt like anyways. I believe he did it with a kiss because Judas always had a false intimacy with Christ. He found his intimacy by deceiving, and not by truly connecting. Even in the midst of betraying Christ unto death, Judas thought it was appropriate to kiss Jesus. He figuratively stabbed Jesus in the back while staring into his eyes and kissed him on his cheek.
That is the question I find myself asking in this scenario. What gain was there in deceiving Jesus in this way? The fact is, there was NO GAIN, only LOSS. He was greatly deceived. Just as Eve was deceived back in the garden.
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3
Earlier in this blog I mentioned how betrayal destroys lives. While the one who is betrayed certainly could lose their reputation, their job, or possibly even their life like in Jesus' case, it is the betrayer whose life is in actually in eternal danger. In being led astray from pure devotion to Christ, one will find themselves far away from eternal life. After Judas deceived and betrayed Jesus we find Judas falling apart from the inside out. The high he got from being deceptive crashed into an all time low, the rush of giving in to temptation faded, and he was now wrecked by the damage of his own actions, which were now very personal and not just collateral damage for someone else. The false intimacy with others turned into self-hatred, and overwhelming shame for what he had done, and been doing for years.
We read this in Matthew 27:2-6: "...Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.”
Judas killed himself because his sins were too large to bear, and from scripture we know that he was going to be in a place of eternal destruction. His death was not only physical, but Spiritual, and it would be an eternal mistake.
Our story does not have to end the way Judas' did. We all have betrayed our Savior at some point or another, yet we do not have to live a life full of shame and regret that leads only to our eternal destruction. Micah 7:18-19 says: "Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."
Jesus, even though he was betrayed by everyone, endured the pain of the cross for us. He forgave us of our sins while we were still sinners.
This is the GOOD NEWS!
He raised to life, now sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth away from false intimacy and deception.
We read this in Ephesians 4:30: "And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption."
Let us not make the same mistake Judas did.
May we repent, before it is too late, live for others and do it with pure hearts for God's glory.