Sermons

Summary: This sermon is NOT intended to vilify Judas, but to show how often we manifest the same traits/symptoms as the "Betrayer." It is written for the religious man who is self-satisfied

Mark 14:1-11 – A Case-Study in Betrayal

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

How does a person become... a “Judas?” What motivates a man to betray deep loyalties and commitments?

Consider the story of Earl Pitts, FBI agent turned Soviet Spy. Pitts was raised on a farm in rural Missouri. His parents had been firm, but fair – raising him to honor the traditional family values of hard work, fear of God, love of country, and respect for others. He was a patriot – having served his country as an Army Captain. His wife would often tell others what a “good man” he was.

But all that changed when he was caught accepting bribes from Russia to betray his country.

WHY??? HOW did this happen???

After earning his degree and serving 6 years as an Army Officer, in 1983 Pitts realized his lifelong ambition when he went to work for the FBI. In ’87 he was assigned to the New York office, and THERE his troubles began.

It seemed impossible to support his family on the $25,000 salary the bureau paid in New York where the cost of living is so high. Overall, morale in the FBI was low – it was common for men to fudge on expense reports to supplement their salary. Burdened with debt from student loans, Pitts was forced to turn to his father for help. Humiliated, his rage toward the agency sparked into a torrent of flame.

One morning, Pitts was approached with the idea of spying for the KGB. Just two years before such an idea was unthinkable – but he found himself justifying treason because of his financial burden and his growing angst toward the FBI. Over the next 7 years, Pitts worked as a spy for the Russian government receiving a quarter-of-a-million dollars in payoffs for confidential information.

When finally caught and convicted, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison. At his sentencing, the Judge asked HOW a man like him could BETRAY his country … Pitts answered, “I gave in to unreasonable anger.”

Betrayal – the violation of trust through deception and disloyalty. Though we have all experienced it in varying degrees, but its commonality in no way diminishes its horror.

Maybe YOU have been a recent victim of betrayal. Perhaps you told something in confidence to a friend, only to have your private thoughts exposed to others.

Maybe you have suffered the betrayal of a spouse – whose deception has left you broken and unable to trust others.

Violated… abused… forsaken … our emotions run the gamut when we suffer betrayal.

The name, “Judas,” will live in infamy as the world’s worst traitor. Though his name is synonymous with betrayal, things were not always this WAY for him.

Scholars suggest he was one of the most trusted, talented, and capable of the 12 disciples. He was the treasurer of the group because the other disciples trusted him. And when Christ announced in the upper room that ONE of them would betray Him, no one even SUSPECTED Judas. But something happened to this man...Maybe even a series of things that caused him to turn his back on everything he knew about the Lord.

What was it that influenced his betrayal – AND – might there be a little bit of Judas in US???

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