Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Have you ever felt the bitter knife of betrayal in your life? Perhaps you’ve seen it first hand or in the family where someone has been betrayed, and it’s not a very nice experience.
Betrayal is an emotional knife in the back that violates and smashes the trust we have extended to a friend. One of the cruellest hurts we can inflict on another person is the act of betrayal. It hurts when someone rejects you and walks out of your life. But when they reject you for someone else, the pain of that betrayal penetrates to the core of your being.
Or it may have been as simple as someone breaking your confidence. Betrayal is the ‘treacherous exposing or deceiving of people by those they formally trusted’. It’s when an enemy masquerades as a friend. Or it’s when someone close to us breaks or abuses a relationship. I can think of someone whose spouse walked out on them and betrayed their love. This kind of action is hurtful and destructive, and leaves people feeling something has died inside of them, or they’ve been stabbed in the back.
Julius Caesar was betrayed by his closest friends and when Brutus came up to him, Caesar said, “Et tu, Brute?” meaning, “You too Brutus?”. Betrayal of belief is regarded by most as a very serious action by anyone. Betrayal is the most hurtful thing that you can do to a person. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself.
It’s not too much to say that the betrayal of a friend lessens the whole meaning of life for some people. Betrayal is very costly. E. M. Forster, who wrote A Passage to India gave his opinion of the consequences of betraying a friend: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” Such is the cost of betraying someone who loves you!
With eloquent words the Apostle Paul declared that love and betrayal are incompatible. “If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 – TLB)
In all of history there is no more infamous a betrayal by a friend, than that of the betrayal of Jesus Christ, betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot. In its motives, its method and its consequences this was the worst of all betrayals.
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The Ultimate Act of Betrayal
Betrayal points to an unresolved issue that has never been brought to the cross. For Judas it was the love of money, he had a temporal value system. For others it may be an issue of morality or a root of bitterness. Judas looked after the disciples’ money, but he was greedy and looking for ways to make money. John says he was a thief and helped himself to the money bag. Satan capitalises on these unresolved issues, because we read:
The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present” (Luke 22:1-6 – NIV).
The Jewish leaders were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. Judas was looking for an opportunity to make a quick buck and to gracefully exit from his commitment to Jesus and eleven friends. Guess who showed up at just the right moment?
Judas identified Jesus to the Temple police, by going up to him and kissing him on the cheek. Was ever there such a more powerful symbol of betrayal? Jesus knew it would be Judas who betrayed him. Why would Judas do such thing? He was a dearly loved disciple, the only Judean, among a band of Galileans, who probably knew the Chief Priests personally. The others were farmers, tax collectors and fishermen.
What Judas did that night was of his own free will. He knew what he was doing in the act of betrayal. But how tragic was the consequence. John in his gospel tells us that Judas “…went out, and it was night.” How awful that moment of truth! And Matthew tells what happened:
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5 – NIV)
So, Jesus understands what it’s like to be betrayed. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” Jesus experienced physical wounds. But he also knew the wounds that come from betrayal—wounds from his closest friends. And yet he said as they killed him, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
I don’t know what betrayal you’re going through, but I can tell you that Jesus knows, and Jesus understands. The Bible says, “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus looked right through the cross and saw it was worth it, because on the other side, he saw you. He saw me. He loved us so much that he was willing to be betrayed for your sake and for mine.
No matter what you’re going through as a betrayed person, Jesus is there for you. God has a purpose in everything that we go through. And God’s purpose always prevails.
No matter what you’re going through, Jesus is there for you.
Thank you, Father, that you heal broken hearts and bitter memories. Thank you that you touch hurting hearts and those who have been betrayed with your healing touch of love. AMEN.