Summary: An exhortation to avoid revenge and forgive.
Don’t Hang Your Judas!
Have you ever been betrayed? I don’t mean some friend erred and let something you shared in confidence slip out. I mean stabbed in the back. They not only stabbed you but they twisted the knife and you could hear them chuckling as they did it! I have and I will admit to you that it is not fun!! I will also confess that I did not react in the way that I am about to preach to you, which is most likely why I have received the message. I have found that the best sermons step on the preacher’s toes first.
One big betrayal in a lifetime is enough. I have three that I remember well. One happened in 1969, one in 1985 and one in 1999. Like I said, one is one too many. Maybe you have had a few more and maybe I have had a few that I did not know about or remember, but how would you like to have two in the same day? How would you react? I reacted poorly to the first two, but I hope that I have reacted a bit better to the third. My goal is to react as Jesus did on the night of His double betrayal.
I carried a lot of bitterness with me for years over the first two and that caused me no end of problems. My present was spoiled by the past and my future was warped as well. To avoid that again I need to follow Jesus’ example.
21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. (KJV)
He knew it was coming, but He did not lash out. He let Judas know that He knew what was happening and even encouraged him to get on with it. (John 13:27) What would you have done if you had seen your betrayal coming? I doubt that my response would have been as calm as His was and my actions would have been a tad bit more radical. My "soul" brother is Peter and I reckon ears would have been lopped! Jesus accepted the betrayal as part of His Father’s plan and accepted the suffering that would come because of this betrayal.
Gethsemane shows us that this was no death wish or blind acceptance as some teach. He was God incarnate and knew better than anyone what pain He would endure from the time of His arrest to He gave up His life on the Cross. I believe that He prayed for the cup to pass as an example to us to go to the Father in our darkest moments with the same sense of pain and yet submission to the Father’s will. This shows us that from the moment the darkness sets in God is with us until He brings us into Light no matter how long or painful the trial. Jesus’ trial ended in glory and so shall ours whether it is into eternal Glory or the glory of victory in this life.
Jesus had another one that was going to betray Him that night though He did not call it betrayal. Peter told Him that night,
33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. (KJV)
We usually think of betrayal as an act of aiding an enemy or being a traitor and Judas certainly fulfilled that definition. Judas aided Jesus’ earthly enemies as well as satan, his spiritual enemy. He was also a traitor to the kingdom of God. Another definition is to prove faithless to someone and Peter did just that. By His denial of Christ, he was faithless or disloyal to the one He had declared to be the Messiah. Judas was a companion, one of the twelve, but Peter was a friend and one of the inner circle. He had walked on water and stood with James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. How much more this betrayal had to have hurt the Lord.