Summary: A Sermon for Holy Wednesday exploring the concept of Betrayal from Judas and the other disciples right through to us. An opportunity for us to think about the true price of the cross for us all.
Lord, as we continue to travel through this Holy Week towards the cross with you, may you open our hearts and minds as we experience the joys and sorrows with you. Amen.
Betrayal, distrust, sadness and hurt.
Four things that immediately come to mind when we think about this passage!
Let me paint a picture for you, Jesus and the disciples have sat down for the Passover meal, and are recounting the story of Israel’s release from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. They are celebrating the freedom that God had blessed them with. Then suddenly Jesus drops a bombshell. One of you will betray me!
The mood changes, everyone is worried and anxious, they all wondered if it was them?
There is an uneasy silence as they look at each other. Then Simon Peter asks the question that is on all of their minds. Silence filled the room and everyone looked to Jesus.
‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’
You can imagine the scene, almost as if it were being played out in slow motion, as their eyes were fixed on the bread as he picked it up and handed it to Judas.
I wonder if any of were sat round that table – how would we have felt? Confused, afraid, angry?
Then Judas left without explanation.
The rest as they say is history…
But how do we understand this story?
Do we cast Judas into a fiery pit because of what he had done, do we feel pity for him, do we understand why he did it? Do we condemn him for his act of betrayal?
Whenever we enter this week of the year, Judas without fail gets a mention. He is seen as Jesus’ arch nemesis his evil opposite, we consider the ramifications of what has just happened, and mourn for Jesus, who has just been betrayed, but we then quickly move onto the rest of the story because there are worse things yet to come.
Judas’ betrayal is legendary, and etched onto our hearts and minds, but is this the only betrayal that the Gospels give us? Let’s have a look.
Well to begin with the other betrayal that is well known, the betrayal of Peter, after he has given this speech about how he will always follow and will lay his life down for Jesus. We see a few hours later that he denies Jesus three times.
But wait, have we considered the disciples who were with him at the garden of Gethsemane, after he was arrested, the disciples fled, and left Jesus to be taken away by the authorities.
Then the last betrayal was at the cross, throughout the Gospels there is only one mention of one disciple looking on, the rest are nowhere to be found?
So what does this say to us? Was their sheer terror at being crucified along with Jesus enough to keep them away? Or was it that they were looking on from a distance so that they could make a quick escape? It is possible that any of these could be partly the reason why. But it is more likely that they still didn’t understand the awesome significance of the cross, the saving and redeeming power that it gives.
But as we consider the actions of the disciples, and the various ways in which they betrayed Jesus, deep down because we don’t always like to admit it, everyday since we have all, in our own ways all betrayed Him, and still do this today in our own lives.
It may not be a betrayal in the same way that we see in the gospels, but none-the-less, there is still betrayal in our lives.
It could be that we have lied, or done something that we shouldn’t have done, but in our own way each of us is as responsible as the disciples for the nails that are hammered into Christ’s hands and feet.
Each day of our lives we crucify Christ in one way or another, was it the gossip that we shared with a friend, was it the lie or the words we said to, or about someone that hurt them, or was it the stranger who asked for our help, and all we did was turn our back on them?
Whatever it was we are all betrayers of our Lord.
Now I know this all sounds like doom and gloom, but we need to also remember that we are still on our way to the cross, in this week of pain we haven’t yet looked our crucified saviour in the eye.
Yes, Christ died on the cross, he bore our sins and redeemed us all.