Judas is the most famous person to betray Jesus, but was he the only one? Sadly not.
There was also Peter, whose betrayal is told in Matthew 26. Matthew calls the three times that Peter refused to admit he was a disciple his ‘denial’ of Jesus.
Then in John 6:66 we find a mass betrayal. “At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.”
John calls this betrayal ‘desertion’. Is there any difference between denial, desertion and betrayal?
Turn back with me to the previous chapter of Mark. In Mark 13 Jesus is telling his disciples what is going to happen in the future. Jesus says the son of Man is going away on a long journey but he will return. While he is away many terrible things will happen. Look at verse 12.
“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers.”
You will be betrayed just as Jesus was betrayed.
Betrayal happens between people who are close to each other, and who have a relationship with each other. You aren’t normally betrayed by your enemy, but by your best friend. That is what makes betrayal so bad, so painful.
Perhaps a simple way to describe betrayal is to say it is breaking trust. The greater the trust, the greater the betrayal.
When Peter betrayed Jesus, just as Jesus had said he would, it was a failure of faith and courage. When a large number of disciples left Jesus and went away, it was lack of trust and faith, it was hard hearts and spiritual blindness.
Judas was one of Jesus’ closest friends. He was trusted to look after the money for all of the disciples and Jesus. When Judas betrayed Jesus it was a positive action of deliberately selling him out to his enemies. Judas had to make a choice, and he chose thirty pieces of silver over loyalty to the Messiah.
He may have miscalculated when he did this, or he may have simply seen it as a solution to his financial problems. The group purse was missing some money, which he had stolen.
We like to know these things, but in this case we only have speculations and guesses.
The real motivation was hidden in Judas’ heart and died with him.
The actions of Judas in betraying Jesus are described by Mark immediately after the actions of a woman in pouring a whole bottle of very expensive perfume over Jesus’ head. Jesus said, “She has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.”
This contrast is not accidental. Mark is clearly showing us the right and wrong ways of relating with Jesus.
In John’s account, in chapter 13 the disciples all go off with Jesus and have the passover dinner together and Jesus washes their feet. It is another beautiful portrait of closeness and trust and submission. It is another example of how we should all be as disciples. Jesus told them, “I have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
Running through these great examples of love and trust is the dark cloud of betrayal and death. God is at work. Satan is also at work.
It was like that in the Garden of Eden. It was the same when the Hebrews were in the desert.
It was that way then, and it is that way now. This is not just some story about the distant past, it is also a story about us. Your story is also filled with betrayal alongside God’s love. You have been betrayed, just as Jesus foretold.
I’m also struck by another aspect of the story. If you remember back to the start of Jesus ministry, when he was baptised the Holy Spirit came down on him and he was anointed. In the same way, when we are baptised we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
We take a stand for Jesus, and then God’s spirit comes upon us. We actually have to make that first step before the Holy Spirit comes upon us. An action for God is followed by anointing.
Now look at what John says about the betrayal by Judas.
Please turn with me to John 13:27.
“As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.”
Judas actually took a step forward for Satan. He went from thinking about betrayal to acting on his thoughts, and that’s when the evil spirit entered him.
As we look at this story and the people involved, who do we relate to?
When we read about betrayal, who do we feel closest to? Most of us associate with the person who has been betrayed, and see ourselves as being on their side. Are we in reality more likely to betray or obey?
Look again at this story and you will see that it is no comfort to be a disciple of Jesus. Many of his disciples betrayed him, and one of his closest disciples was Judas. Do you take comfort from how close you feel to Jesus, when in fact it wouldn’t take much for you to betray your first love.
How do we betray Jesus even while we are close to him and faithfully attend church?
One way is to tolerate false teaching. To be lukewarm. The letters to the seven churches of Revelation lay out some of the ways to be a disciple and betray Jesus.
Instead follow this advice in Revelation 2:10 – “if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.”
We may find we struggle with money as Judas did. When we look within, do we find we are putting our trust in our money. Do we trust the wages we get in this world more than the wages of the next world? Do we covet and desire to have more money, perhaps trying to convince ourselves of how much good we could do if we were rich.
Judas betrayed Jesus with a gesture of love, with a kiss. A kiss is good, and the Bible says to greet one another with a holy kiss. When our kiss pretends to be holy, but is not, then our betrayal is deep. Do we pretend to be nice? Do we pretend to like people, while actually we are betraying them. Do we give lip service to God, and enjoy the good feelings he gives us, but cannot be bothered to go to church or pray if we feel tired or bored?
Satan was able to influence Judas because Judas was moved by greed, false teaching, laziness, lack of love and similar things. If we allow ourselves to motivated by these same things, we are in grave danger of betraying Jesus and our brothers.
We are not so different from Judas. We need to weep in repentance as Peter did, and resist taking that action that allows the evil spirit to come upon us. We need to keep turning to God and taking the actions that allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us.
Jesus said “brother will betray brother”, but far better for you to be betrayed than to be a betrayer. These are you brothers and sisters here beside you today. Let’s not betray each others. Peter betrayed Jesus and was later forgiven. His advice to us is valuable. Please turn to 1 Peter 5:8,9.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”
“바짝 정신을 차리고 철저하게 경계하십시오. 여러분의 원수인 마귀가 울부짖는 사자처럼 삼킬 자를 찾아 돌아다니고 있습니다. 그러므로 믿음에 굳게 서서 마귀를 대항하십시오. 세상에 흩어져 있는 모든 성도들도 이 같은 고난을 겪고 있습니다.”