After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. John 13:21-30 (NIV)
Who among us has betrayed a friend at some time or another? Whether we betray others to save our own hides, or for personal gain, or even from our own fear, the sin of betrayal has a special kind of sting to it. It is a violation of an intimate understanding between friends, a breach of trust.
Jesus is fully human as well as He is fully God. Judas’ betrayal had to be painful for Jesus just as it is painful for us to be betrayed by a friend or a family member. The ones closest to us have the greatest power to hurt us, because they are the last ones who should.
It is easy for us to think that we would never betray Jesus the way that Judas did- selling the Holy One of God down the river for less than the equivalent of what it would take to fill up a Toyota Camry. The reality is that any one of us could have been Judas given the right set of circumstances.
We sell out Jesus every day. We betray Him in our actions. Like Peter we try to stay strong and we plead our allegiance and our love for Jesus, but in our moments of crisis we deny Him. (Matthew 26:69-75) Like the disciples, we aren’t able to stay with Him and pray an hour in the garden without falling asleep. (Mark 14:32-42) In our fallen humanity we are not even able to come to faith in God, let alone stand strong for Jesus. The Holy Spirit must intervene on our behalf.
The good news is that Jesus still loves us. He still went willingly to Caiaphus and stood before the Sanhedrin, who had plotted to kill Him. He was handed over to Pontius Pilate and was chosen for crucifixion by the people, while Barabbas was set free.
Thankfully Jesus does not betray us. He is faithful even when we are not. We can always trust Him and we are set free, knowing that because He took our place on the Cross that we are free to share in abundant and joyful life now, as well as we enter into His eternal life.
We want to stand strong with Jesus. We want to pray with Him in the garden, but we are weak. Jesus walks the path with us and for us because we cannot endure it alone. He alone was able to bear the cost of our sins- and the sins of this fallen world. He will not betray us.