Acts of Betrayal

During the last supper Jesus insisted on washing the disciples’ feet. Peter argued with Jesus implying that such an act was beneath him. And it was in the midst of this discussion Jesus inserted this observation: “You are clean, but not every one of you.”1  I imagine the disciples darted their eyes at one another and mouthed silently, What is he talking about? 🧐  

After Jesus spoke with them about how important it is to serve each other, he said this: “One of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”2   Again the disciples were shocked and confused, so let’s pause here. The question we need to ask is why Jesus did not immediately identify Judas as the betrayer. Well . . . Peter might have attacked Judas at that point. He and the others would have done everything in their power to prevent Judas from carrying out his plan. And Jesus knew that the plan could not be stopped. But I don’t think that’s the real reason.

Note the disciples’ response to Jesus’ statement: “they began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, ‘Is it I?’”3   They were, in fact, saying, It couldn’t be me, Lord! Lord, is it me? And although they ask the question, they really do not believe they are capable of betraying Jesus. None of us do. 😟

Then Jesus does identify the betrayer as the one “to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.”4  And he gives the bread to Judas and tells him to leave. So why do the others let Judas walk out the door? They “thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him ‘Buy what we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor.”5

The disciples simply do not believe that any one of them would abandon Jesus or the mission that they had begun. But Jesus brings the point up again! After they eat the meal, after they sing a song and are feeling strong and unified, Jesus announces: “You will all fall away.”6   I imagine they were hurt at the statement, that they thought, How could Jesus say that about us! ☹️ Peter could not remain silent about the accusation and boasts, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.”7   And then Jesus predicts Peter’s betrayal, but Peter insists: ‘“If I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And they all said the same!8

So, here’s the real reason Jesus did not clearly indicate that Judas was the betrayer: They are all betrayers! Jesus told the disciples that they would all desert him and they all boasted We would never do that! Of course, Jesus was right. Judas handed him over to the Roman soldiers. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. And as Jesus was arrested, what happened to the other disciples? “They all left him and fled.”9  😮

All of us have the potential to do the unthinkable, to betray those we love, to invoke great embarrassment and shame on our families and our church and God and ourselves. We, like the disciples, are all hypocrites—a very important fact to ponder, as Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.”10  As the apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”11  

It’s the greatest struggle of all—not doing what we hate to do. It makes no sense! 🤪 Why do we do what we hate? Two reasons: 1) Evil is stronger than we think, and 2) we are not . . . as strong as we think. And so we boast, I would never do that! And then we do! 🙁

So, what are we to do? Confess our sin, yes. Accept God’s forgiveness, yes. But more than that. We are to recognize the power of evil and combat it daily. Daily. We should “in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”12  With the shield, we are protected. What is so powerful about the shield of faith? It is where we humbly crouch underneath God’s power instead of relying on our own. Without the shield, we arrogantly boast I would never do that! With the shield, we realize Yeah, I would.

1 John 13:11     2 Mark 14:18     3 Mark 14:19     4John 13:26     5 John 13:29     6 Mark 14:27    7 Mark 14:29    8 Mark 14:31     9 Mark 14:50      10 Isaiah 53:6     11 Romans 7:15    12 Ephesians 6:16




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