2. Betray | Sealed: An Easter Devotion
’’Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’ Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.’ - Mark 14:9-11
Judas cuts a complicated, sad figure in the historical story of Christ. One of the twelve disciples, his betrayal was a series of acts that resulted in Jesus being delivered to crucifixion and death. In all four Gospels, Jesus speaks about knowing he will be betrayed, so we know God’s will is present, even here. Let’s take a closer look at Judas’ crime. As we investigate, we’ll look at motive, means and opportunity.
Scripture records Judas stealing from the treasury, so greed for money may been a motive for the betrayal. In Matthew 26 and Mark 14, the woman at Bethany anoints Jesus’ head with costly perfume amidst harsh rebuke from the disciples. Judas had just spoken out against Mary’s ‘wasteful’ anointing, and now another woman pours her costly perfume away? And then Jesus elevates this nameless woman for all eternity?
Read Matthew 26:1-15, then reflect: Can you put yourself in Judas’ shoes and feel his anger at the ‘waste’? How do you think one of the disciples could get Jesus so wrong? Can you think of a time one small idea has taken on a life of its own? Does anger or entitlement ever lead you down your own dark paths?
After being tempted in the desert, as recorded in Luke 4, Jesus refuses Satan’s various offers, so Satan leaves to wait ‘until an opportune time’. In Luke 22 and John 13, that time arrived when ‘Satan entered Judas’. Satan’s influence was another motive for Judas’ betrayal.
‘Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus replied, ‘Do what you came for, friend.’ Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.’ - Matthew 26:49-50
The root of the word ‘betrayal’ comes from the Latin ‘tradere’, meaning ‘hand over’ to an enemy force. Judas had insider knowledge that meant he could easily hand over Christ to be arrested. Judas leaves the anointing to find the chief priests, asking ‘What are you willing to give me, if I deliver him over to you?’
Judas is willing to accept what is offered to betray Christ: thirty pieces of silver. Have you ever felt tempted by an unrighteous offer? What scripture or truth about God do you claim in order to rebuke the enemy’s temptations?
Judas leads a mob to Gethsemane armed with a signal to identify Jesus for his arrest. Upon seeing Jesus, Judas approaches, greets him and seals his betrayal with a kiss. There’s no going back from here.
Read Matthew 26:36-55, then reflect: What frame of mind do you think Jesus was in? How do you think the disciples were feeling as the mob arrived? What do you think they thought when they saw Judas leading them? Why do you think Judas dared to kiss Jesus? Why a kiss?
The Gospels record different accounts of Judas’ death, both repentant and unrepentant. We might scoff at Judas’ thirty pieces of silver, but Peter and other disciples were quick to betray Jesus in various ways after his arrest.
‘You were a traitor, indeed, but still, if you will come back, ‘Peter’, and repent, and do your first works, he will receive you—and baptise you with power.’ - Catherine Booth (The Holy Ghost)
Were it not for the power of the cross, we too could be defined by our worst decisions or lowest moments and remain in despair. Too often, we can be the ones who betray God in our thoughts and actions. What is an area of your life you sometimes betray God in? If you have a mirror, go to it (embrace the awkward) and contemplate the grace available to the person staring back.
We get to experience the gift of reconciliation God gives us through Jesus Christ. Don’t be defined by your failures or what you perceive to be your inadequacies. Remind yourself that your identity rests solely in Christ. Rise up, child of God. Stand forgiven, set free and able to live again.
Prayer: Lord, let me never settle for despair and inadequacy. Let me see where your grace spills over and where it has yet to touch in my life. Help me to be repentant, thoughtful, humble and kind. Don’t let me be blind.