Why does Scripture focus on Betrayal? Jesus, not another like him, twenty-four.
Jesus finished his agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and returned to his men, just in time for Judas to step forward and kiss him. His friend and one of the inner circle of 12 disciples ensured those who had come to arrest Jesus that he was indeed 'The Man'.
We read right through the narrative of Judas' betrayal, accepting it as part of the familiar story--of the beginning of Jesus' end, particularly on that night. But can I be honest? Something has puzzled me, then bugged me, and now screams to me. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body..."1
Did you catch the way Paul described that night? What the Church has come to call Maundy Thursday wasn't described as 'the night Jesus ate the last supper', or washed his disciples' feet, or the night Jesus was arrested, beaten, tried, etc., rather it was called, 'on the night Jesus was betrayed. Hmmm....
The passage from Luke's gospel: "While he was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When those who were around him saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, "Stop! No more of this." And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against him, "Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours."2
A sobering scene, isn't it? Jesus rises from his position of prayer under the boughs of the olive trees, probably rubs his knees a few times, and then walks over to the disciples and wakes them up again. As he is talking to them, a crowd of heavily-armed men sent by the Sanhedrin (the Jewish supreme council), accompanied by a Roman troop with lanterns, torches, and weapons, approaches, with Judas leading the way. Immediately, the disciples realize what Jesus had told them earlier in the evening was coming to pass: one of them, Judas, was barging into this intimate, emotional, spiritual setting to deliver the Lord into cruel hands. Betrayal at its worst.
Betrayal cuts deep into the soul - it is personal. And it's a weapon found only in the hands of someone we love. Betrayal is mutiny. It's a violation of trust, an inside job. While we knew Jesus to be lonely before, loneliness is magnified by betrayal . . . have you ever thought about that? As with Judas to Jesus, only a friend can betray.
You know, it is no accident that Jesus' last Thursday night was described by Paul as 'the night Jesus was betrayed'. [All scripture is inspired by God.3-There are no unintentional words in the Bible.] Jesus' betrayal by one of his own was not missed on God! Paul's words portray God's knowledge of how betrayal cuts his children to the core, leaving broken hearts in its wake. Think on that for a moment.
'Been betrayed? God knows your heartache. Your pain matters to him. I believe it is the reason that Jesus' betrayal was noted in Scripture.
Immediately after, Jesus is apprehended and a series of trials ensues: Jesus of Nazareth tried by Jewish leaders in the high-ceilinged Hall of Justice, at the east end of the temple. Once Jesus answers their question, "Are you then the Son of God?" with "You are right in saying I am," they twist it to sound like some kind of a political threat to Rome--a form of sedition. It is all the council needs to send him to the Roman governor, Pilate. The council could condemn Jesus to death on the basis of blasphemy, but they could not carry out the death penalty under Roman law.[this is critical to the evil plot] The Romans have to find Jesus guilty in order for him to be put to death--and that is the goal of the Jewish leaders.
High priest, Caiaphas, clad in his lavish garb, leads this trial, with great pomp. Just what has Jesus done that is so bad? They are accusing him of blasphemy, claiming to be God. In truth, Jesus accused himself by answering Caiaphas' question, "You are right in saying I am." These men knew the significance of Jesus' 'I AM statement; in this way, Jesus identified himself with God when he used this Old Testament title for God.
The irony is this: the only reason Jesus is standing in front of them is because he is exactly who they are 'trying' him for being! Theologians, philosophers, scientists and college professors regularly set out to debate--many to discount--the claims of Jesus Christ in our present day . . . the very thing that was at issue and for which they brought him to trial all those years ago. Yet history, science, (including archaeology), fulfilled prophecies and changed lives all serve to shore up the validity of Jesus' claims of being the Son of God.
There was so much that happened that week so long ago. Jesus didn't have to endure all of it, but he did--for you, for me.
Have you taken some time alone to pray this week, as Jesus got alone in the Garden of Gethsemane? Not in your usual chair, or as you drive to work... I mean stopping at a place you can have a little bit of 'set apart' time just to pray, without your cellphone in your hand. Nothing you do this week will mean more to God than giving him a little of yourself.
I will wait for you, Shane & Shane, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8pCbtLeXzc&list=RDEMJMPZbQlqfdfbfYUb16sWRQ&start_radio=1&rv=75rSULBHRlU
Because of Jesus,
1 - 1 Corinthians 11.23-24
2 - Luke 22.47-53
3 -1 Timothy 3.16