Have you ever been betrayed? Few things in life sting the way a betrayal stings. The wounds left behind can feel raw and open for a long time. Whether it happens in a professional setting or a personal one, even the memory of someone turning against you can cause pain. I know a woman who was terribly betrayed decades ago by a former boss. The boss used her position and power to undermine and derail my friend. She ended up resigning just one step ahead of an unfair dismissal. Her career never recovered. When she talks about it even to this day, you can feel her anger and grief as though it happened yesterday.
We know that our Lord suffered many betrayals in his lifetime. He was rejected by his own people and lied about by men “in charge.” His daily skirmishes with the Pharisees were a constant irritant as they rejected him over and over. The refusal of the high priests to acknowledge his messiahship was a constant attempt to undermine his divine authority. Even the disciples were confused and dull in their understanding of his mission. And then, of course, came the ultimate betrayal:
John 13 (Common English Bible)
21 After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.”
Do you suppose it helped that Jesus knew it was coming? I don’t. This translation says that he was “deeply disturbed.” My heart breaks for Jesus in this moment. You and I have been in that place of being hurt by someone we loved and trusted. This pain is real.
22 His disciples looked at each other, confused about which of them he was talking about. 23 One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was at Jesus’ side. 24 Simon Peter nodded at him to get him to ask Jesus who he was talking about.25 Leaning back toward Jesus, this disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?”
Poor Simon Peter! His love for Jesus and his loyalty made it hard for him to hear that one of them was about to betray the Lord. Imagine how it felt to realize that this tight team of men, who had lived and worked together for three years, was about to be obliterated by one man’s actions. They must have felt helpless at this news. All of them, of course, except the betrayer:
26 Jesus answered, “It’s the one to whom I will give this piece of bread once I have dipped into the bowl.”Then he dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. 27 After Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
The scripture makes it clear what happened. Satan entered Judas. It was a demonic possession. Judas is now being employed by the devil himself to finish Jesus’ ministry. This is being done to fulfill all of the prophecies about the messiah that foretold that Jesus would suffer and die so that everyone might be raised up with him into eternal life.
So who used who? Certainly God’s purpose is now being met by what Judas is about to do. God had the ultimate authority over Satan’s futile attempt to derail and undermine the power of Jesus. Jesus’ power only grew stronger through the crucifixion and resurrection. In this way, Judas was only a pawn…not of Satan, but of God.
Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 No one sitting at the table understood why Jesus said this to him.29 Some thought that, since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus told him, “Go, buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So when Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night.
Judas had been accepted into the group and was considered to be trustworthy enough to “hold the purse.” He was a person of noble character. He was a follower of Jesus. He was an important member of the team right up until the very end. Yet his guilt over his actions that night led him to take his own life after receiving his thirty pieces of silver for his heinous deed. Perhaps in the moment when Satan released him, he couldn’t bear living with what he had done.
Let’s turn this around now and consider times when we were the betrayer. Have you ever gossiped about someone, spoken a word against someone out of jealousy, or actively undermined someone for your own personal gain? Have you betrayed a confidence or repeated a falsehood to make yourself look better? Did you ever cheat on a relationship? Are you guilty of betraying God? I imagine we all are. I am a betrayer. I bet you are, too.
If God is dealing with you on this issue, it’s time to come clean. Confess your actions to the person you have hurt and confess your sins to God. All of us carry some kind of “Judas guilt,” but we don’t have to let it take our lives as well. Thank God, you can be forgiven and cleansed of your betrayal!
Is it time to seek forgiveness? God is ready to hear you. Are you ready to speak?