King David discovered that self-centred cowards betray friends in a spirit of meaness that defies logical explanation. The very nature of love exposes us to betrayal.
One of the cruelest 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 lies and rumors, without even coming to you and discussing the matter, the pain of that betrayal penetrates to the core of your being. King David laments his betrayal when he said, "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9)
Most of us have experienced betrayal. It may have been as simple as the breaking of a confidence or as bitter as a friend stealing the affection of your spouse. Betrayal is befriending someone and then blaring all over the school yard the secrets they told you.
The word Judas has become synonymous with the act of betrayal. What Judas did to Yah'shua, thousands of people around the world do to their friends every day. It's sad to have to admit that even Christians betray one another. The church is the last place on earth where you should be able to find examples of betrayal. The church should be a place that is known for its loyalty and love. A place where you will never, never be forsaken by your friends.
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 ) What were the factors surrounding the betrayal of Yah'shua? What appeals did Yah'shua make to Judas' conscience? What is the cost of betrayal?
Revenge and Greed are Powerful Motivators for Betrayal
Satan is the evil matchmaker who matches our unchecked motives with ripe opportunities that cause us to betray our friends and our Elohim.
John gives us a peek into the heart of the betrayer. When Mary took her pint of expensive perfume and poured it on Yah'shua's feet, Judas was the only disciple who objected. John wrote, "But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages" (John 12:4-5).
It's important to notice the next comment that John made about Judas. "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it" (John 12:6).
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.
Satan capitalizes on these unresolved issues. "The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Yah'shua, 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 Yah'shua. 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).
Satan is a great match maker. The Jewish leaders were looking for a way to get rid of Yah'shua. Judas was looking for an opportunity to make a quick buck and to gracefully exit from his commitment to Yah'shua and eleven friends. Guess who showed up at just the right moment?
Satan the master match maker matches the condition of our hearts with a juicy opportunity to get even. He'll even manufacture a plausible alibi for us. If the desire of our hearts is to get even with someone, then Satan will give us that golden opportunity. The opportunity to sin that is presented to us usually matches an area of struggle in our hearts. Bitter people betray their friends.
Temptation - a Negative Appeal we can Resist
From the appeals that Yahweh made to Judas we learn that for a Christian to sin he/she must push Yahweh's offer of help aside.
Apostle Paul emphasized this great truth. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And Yahweh is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If I want to betray someone, I have to climb over Yahweh's protective fence to do it. Before we commit the sin, Yah'shua will makes appeals to our conscience.
1. Yah'shua appealed to Judas by showing confidence and trust in him. A full year prior to His crucifixion Yah'shua knew the heart of Judas. "Then Yah'shua replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him)" (John 6:70-71 NIV).
Yah'shua made an appeal to the covetous heart of Judas by an act of confidence and trust? He made Judas the treasurer. Judas lived in the presence of Christ and for some reason his heart was hardened and not softened.
2. Yah'shua appealed to Judas through the humility of a servant. At the beginning of the Passover meal, Yah'shua washed Judas' feet. Yah'shua must have looked up into that hard determined face and read the worst there was to read. Only bitterness can reject the humble appeal of a servant.
3. Yah'shua appealed to Judas through the protection He gave to him. The fact that Yah'shua did not unmask Judas was itself an appeal. Judas must have known full well how precarious his safety would have been had the others been told about his treachery. Grace always holds out hands of help.
4. Yah'shua appealed to Judas through His transparent manner. "Yah'shua was troubled in spirit and testified, 'I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.'" The disciples were so consumed with their own agendas that they failed to hear the plea of Yah'shua. I believe that Judas heard Yah'shua's plea and rejected it.
5. Yah'shua appealed to Judas through the honour He showered on Him. "His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Yah'shua loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, 'Ask him which one He means.' Leaning back against Yah'shua, he asked him, 'Lord, who is it?' Yah'shua 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 Iscariot, son of Simon" (John 13:22-26).
It appears that Yah'shua asked Judas to sit beside Him. They reclined at table, and it is a fair guess that John was on one side of his Master, Judas on the other. Yah'shua took the sop and gave it to Judas. The sop was the choice morsel and it was given to a favored guest. By singling Judas out for this honour Yah'shua made His final appeal to him. Judas rejected appeal number five.
The Price of Betrayal
It's said that everyone has a price. What were you paid the last time you were disloyal to a friend?
"Satan entered into Judas." says Luke 22:3. And this was because Judas opened the way. Someone has remarked that there is no handle on the outside of the door of the human heart; it must be opened from within. Consciously, we "yield our bodies to be instruments of unrighteousness."
The only safeguard is to have Christ in full occupation. To preserve and cherish unsurrendered corners of the life is to endanger the whole structure. Judas must have felt the kingdom was going no place. He saw no future for his dreams and aspirations and so he decided to cash in his chips.
This unsurrendered sin withstood the presence of the Lord. He became harder with each day's resistance. Then, at the proper time, Satan struck. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Yah'shua told him, but no one at the meal understood why Yah'shua said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Yah'shua was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. (John 13:27-29 )
John wrote, "Judas went out, and it was night," And when we step into the darkness of betrayal our end can be catastrophic. "When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Yah'shua 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 27:3-10 )
Bitterness and the love of money caused Judas to betray Yah'shua and reject all His appeals to repent. Judas paid dearly for stubbornly walking the road to betrayal..
It has been said that everyone has a price. For example, how many lies and rumors would it take for you to turn your back on this ministry? What's the price of your loyalty? How much pain would it take for me to abandon this church? What is your price? What is my price?
There is a sense in which Judas is unfairly tagged with the betrayal label. What did the other eleven disciples do in the Garden of Gethsemane ? They fled. Is that not a form of betrayal?
Every time we betray another person, we betray Yah'shua. "In as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me." Every time we point our finger at Judas, we have three fingers pointing back at ourselves.
Betrayal is indeed a coward's wound and it carries a high price. Let us all hold steadfast to what is righteous and true, and love one another as Yah'shua has loved us.
Adapted from an article by Dr. Eugene B. Harder, New Hope Community Church