Summary: The three stages of betrayal are examined by discussing Judas’ behavior. It is not only important that we guard our hearts so that we do not become betrayers; but it is also important to respond correctly when we are betrayed. Jesus provides an example fo

Betrayed But Not Bitter

Fortifying the Foundations # 31

John 13:18-38[1]



Our text this morning in John 13 deals with the issue of betrayal. With a kiss, Judas betrayed Jesus. The thing that makes betrayal so painful is that by its very nature it comes from someone you trust. In fact, the closer you are to the person who betrays you the more painful it is.

David wrote in Psalm 55:12-14 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance.

14We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.” (NKJV) The Revised Standard Version translates that last verse, “We used to hold sweet converse together; within God’s house we walked in fellowship.” RSV

When deceit and betrayal hit you from an unexpected source it hurts a lot. Many people who have gone through divorce know that. People who have been betrayed by a close friend know that. A couple of years ago I watched a friend/a fellow-pastor go through the pain of being betrayed by his accountability partner. Some of the most painful betrayals I have experienced have come from people that I have helped develop in ministry. I want to add, however, that some of the most rewarding experiences have also come from people I helped develop into ministry. Jesus had invested Himself in Judas. Jesus had trusted Judas with the treasury. And Judas stabbed Him in the back and twisted the handle.

As we talk about betrayal does anyone come to your mind? Have you experienced the pain of betrayal? How did you handle it? Or are you still trying to handle it?

In his book, The Bait of Satan, John Bevere asks some searching questions that can help us identify unresolved hurts in this area. For example:

1. Are you constantly rehearsing a past event that hurt you—trying to make sense of it all, trying to lay it to rest in your own soul—asking again and again, how it could have happened?

2. Are you compelled to tell your side of the story?

3. Do you fight thoughts of suspicion or distrust?[2]

I might expound on that list by asking,

4. Is there anything that has left you cynical about life and about people in general?

It is not easy to walk through a betrayal unscathed. This morning we want to look at betrayal from two perspectives. First, we want to look into the life of Judas and gain some insight on what causes a person to betray. This can help us spot a potential problem before it develops in a relationship. This can help us guard our own hearts so that we do not become the one who betrays another. Second, we want to look at Jesus’ response to Judas’ betrayal so that we can follow His example when that sort of thing happens to us. And by the way, if you live very long it probably will happen.

I. First, what was going on in Judas that led to this betrayal? What are some common dynamics that lead to such a betrayal?

1. Judas most likely entered into his relationship with a Self-serving Agenda. John tells us that Judas was a thief.[3] Here is a man who lived very, very close to Jesus. He ate with Jesus. He carried the moneybag for the team. He was trusted by everyone. No one seems to have questioned the decision to put Judas in charge of the money. Even later when Jesus talked about the pending betrayal, the disciples did not know it was Judas. They were asking, “Is it I?”[4]

Did Jesus know that Judas was that kind of man when He chose him to be one of the disciples? That’s not an easy question to answer. Some would say, “Of course, Jesus is God. He knows everything.” Certainly the Father knew Judas’ heart when he was chosen. I personally don’t believe that Jesus knew that when He chose Judas[5]. During his earthly ministry Jesus was not functioning in His divine prerogatives[6]. Philippians 2 clearly tells us that. He voluntarily placed Himself in human dependence upon the Father as the forerunner of many brothers and sisters. As a man full of the Holy Spirit Jesus knew those things the Father revealed to Him but He did not operate in his omniscience or omnipotence. We do not know exactly when Jesus came to know that Judas was the one who would betray Him. Certainly sometime before this occasion in the upper room in John 13.

But Judas’ problem with covetousness was pretty well hidden for a long time. Occasionally it would manifest itself in subtle ways. For example, when Mary lavished Jesus feet with the expensive ointment, Judas got upset and criticized her for wasting the money. Do you remember how pious his reasoning sounded? John 12:5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” NKJV

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