Wednesday in Holy Week

The Betrayal of Jesus

As we have said, Holy Week is a contrast between darkness and light. Today we see great darkness falling. Having washed His disciples feet, Jesus is speaking about being a servant. He suddenly changes the subject:

When Jesus had said this, He was troubled in His spirit and testified, ” I assure you: One of you will betray Me!”

The disciples started looking at one another—uncertain which one He was speaking about. One of His disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining close beside Jesus. Simon Peter motioned to him to find out who it was He was talking about. So he leaned back against Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus replied, “He’s the one I give the piece of bread to after I have dipped it.” When He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. After [Judas ate] the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Therefore Jesus told him, “What you’re doing, do quickly.”   ()

One of the definitions of betrayal is “to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence.” In order to betray someone we must first gain a confidence and avoid suspension. Judas was part of Jesus’ inner circle. He was entrusted with the common purse. None of the disciples would have suspected Judas of being a betrayer.  They were evidently surprised when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him.

Satan is the master of betrayal. To do it well one will need his help. But why would anyone want to do such a thing? We might lose more than we gain. The betrayal might backfire on us. We might lose friends. We might lose our reputation. Unfortunately the spirit of betrayal blinds us to these consequences.

Betrayal comes from a different perspective than a Christian one. The Christian is concerned about the well-being of others. Betrayal is a very selfish act and does not taken into consideration the needs or views of others. The betrayer sees only his or her point of view and acts accordingly.

The most serious offense is a betrayal of the Gospel. We are capable of doing that. Ministers and elders of the Gospel do such things. Why? Because our often limited understanding of the Gospel becomes the “gospel” for everyone else. We may believe that we have a privileged position with God in understanding His Word. We may feel close to His heart and purposes. We then impose our interpretations of the Gospel on others rather than continually allowing the Gospel to interpret us. We need to be a student of the Gospel, praying that the Holy Spirit teach us. We read in today’s Old Testament lesson:

The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
    the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
    wakens my ear
    to listen as those who are taught.   (Isaiah 50:4)

Judas had his very narrow viewpoint. Later, when he discovered he was wrong he felt great remorse. But he did not repent! God is always ready to forgive us when we go astray, when we sincerely repent. Let us not let our pride and arrogance stand in the way of His grace. And let us be careful not to become, for others, a stumbling block to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Holy Week, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy

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