Wednesday in Holy Week

Betrayal by Judas

Betrayal, what can we say about it? One of the definitions of betrayal is “to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence.” In order to betray someone the betrayer must first gain a confidence the betrayed and avoid suspension. This may have been true for Judas, at least there the other disciples of Jesus were concerned. But this was not the case for Jesus, He knew who Judas was and what he was about to do. He was teaching his disciples about servanthood, then he suddenly changed the subject:

When Jesus had said this, He was troubled in His spirit and testified, ” I assure you: One of you will betray Me!”

The disciples started looking at one another—uncertain which one He was speaking about. One of His disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining close beside Jesus. Simon Peter motioned to him to find out who it was He was talking about. So he leaned back against Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus replied, “He’s the one I give the piece of bread to after I have dipped it.” When He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. After [Judas ate] the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Therefore Jesus told him, “What you’re doing, do quickly.”   (John 13:21-27)

Judas was part of Jesus’ inner circle. He was entrusted with the common purse. None of the disciples would have suspected Judas of being a betrayer.  They were evidently surprised when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him.

Why would Judas do such a thing? We can only speculate. Perhaps he thought that he knew and understood more than Jesus. We are told to pray for those in authority, not to undermine then because we may think that we have all the answers and they are not following our advice. Jesus addressed this type of pride with his disciples on the very night he was betrayed.

A better question might be: Why do we betray Jesus? We may say that we never would have betrayed Jesus. If so, we put ourselves in Peter’s camp. He told Jesus that he never would, yet he denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. Circumstances in life can put us under tremendous pressure. It is hard to say how we might respond under such pressure. If we are relying on our own strength then the chances are that our faith may fail us.

How serious is betrayal? Jesus said:

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.   (Matthew 10:32-33)

We need the testimony of Jesus before the Father. And he needs our testimony. Jesus forgave Peter who had a repentant heart. He restored Peter and filled him with the power of his Holy Spirit. Peter learned that he needed to rely on the strength of God and not his own.

Judas became aware of his terrible mistake, but he did not repent. Let us remember to repent of our arrogance, misplaced devotions, and faithless faults. The Book of Hebrews reminds us:

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.   (Hebrews 12:1-3)

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Filed under Holy Week, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Wednesday in Holy Week, Year C

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