Have you ever been betrayed by someone you thought was your friend? How does that feel? Shocked? Sad? Angry? Did you feel like seeking revenge? Did you feel insecure because your trust was broken by someone very close? Maybe violated is a good word.
Many of the timelines Bible scholars have put together for the last week of Jesus’ life indicate that, on Wednesday, Judas made a deal with the Jewish Chief Priests at the Temple in Jerusalem to betray Jesus.
They were looking for a reason to kill Him. They were afraid of His popularity with the people. They thought Him a heretic for claiming to be God’s Son. They were jealous of His power and they were angry that He had exposed their self-righteous hypocrisy. They wanted Him dead so they could protect their power and their traditions. Judas gave them the opportunity to arrest Jesus in private where the crowds could not interfere.
Judas was one of Jesus’ trusted disciples. He was one of the twelve men who went everywhere with Jesus for 3 years while He preached, taught, and healed the sick; even raised the dead. Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, was raised from the dead just days before this incident and Judas was a witness to it. He saw all these incredible things Jesus did.
Jesus let Judas into His inner circle of followers and yet he betrayed Jesus.
Jesus knew this was going to happen. He even, at the last supper, was the one who told Judas to go do it. Can you imagine knowing one of your closest followers would betray you to your death? Jesus did and yet did nothing to stop him. Judas’ betrayal led to the cross but Jesus did nothing to hinder his errand.
Jesus didn’t stop Judas because He knew we needed the cross. Jesus allowed Judas to kiss Him on the cheek because we would have no hope otherwise.
You see, we’ve all sinned.
We’ve sinned in our personal lives. We’ve cheated on our spouses. We’ve been greedy valuing our possessions over the people we love. We’ve gossiped about friends just so we can have a quick thrill and make ourselves feel better. We’ve carried grudges over past hurts that should have been let go long before.
We’ve sinned at work. We’ve walked on others to get ahead. We’ve cheated or stolen from work. We’ve not put in an honest day’s work. We’ve used unsavory business practices or political practices against our competitors.
We’ve sinned with our friends. We’ve been angry. We haven’t been there to support them when they’ve needed us. We’ve argued with our neighbors.
We’ve even sinned at church. Instead of focusing on doing the Lord’s work, we argue about silly, petty things. Instead of sharing the news of the Gospel, we fight over who will be in control. Instead of loving the needy in our community, we let our egos dictate our actions and if things don’t go the way we want them to, we’ll just go to the next church down the street.
How much better are we than Judas?
Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I’ve never done any of those things. I’m not that bad of a person.” You’re fooling yourself. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We need the cross.
It’s an ugly thing, the cross is, but we need it desperately. It was rough, heavy, full of splinters, covered with blood, and a gruesome instrument of torture the sight of which struck fear throughout the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day. But, we have no hope of overcoming ourselves without it.
We are created in the image of God and we are beautiful.
We also have a sinful side that does ugly things.
Thank God we have a Savior that willingly allowed Himself to be betrayed so that we could be saved from ourselves.
Because of the Cross we can be honest with ourselves about who we are. Yes, we are flawed individuals who frequently choose the destructive course instead of the right course. We are also loved by God so much that He is willing to forgive all that destructiveness. We are so loved that Jesus was willing to be betrayed by one of His closest friends so that we could be God’s sons and daughters.
Thank God for His love and thank Him for His patience and mercy!
Rob Morton is minister of First Christian Church Middlesboro. Contact him at [email protected]