Summary: This sermon looks at Jesus prediction of betrayal, and at the actions and demeanor of Judas. The sermon ends with communion. This is part one of a two part message.
The Betrayal Part I
Dr. Paul G. Humphrey
I received an email the other day that told about a really smart crook.
Police in Radnor, Pa., interrogated a suspect by placing a metal Colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine. The Message "He’s lying" was placed in the copier, and police pressed the copy Button each time they thought the suspect wasn’t telling the truth. Believing
the "lie detector" was working, the suspect confessed. [Source Unknown]
This morning we are going to be looking at a thief. As we approach Easter, I thought that it would be good to look at the betrayal of Jesus. Let us begin in Matthew.
MT 26:20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."
What a shocking statement this must have been to the disciples. These men are like a band of brothers. They may compete with one another and sometimes argue, none-the-less they are close. They have lived together, traveled together, eaten together, prayed together, and served together. They all realize the risk that they face together as followers of Jesus.
Looking in hind-sight, it is probably difficult for us to imagine the perplexity that this statement of Jesus brought to the disciples. “One of you will betray me.” We want to say, it is Judas. You guys should know that it is Judas, he is the sneaky one.
In reality, Judas was likely the last one that they would have picked to be the betrayer. Judas was their treasurer. This seems to suggest to us that he was the one that they trusted most.
Before we go to the next verse, I want you to ponder a question. How would you expect the disciples to react to Jesus’ statement, “one of you will betray me?” I would expect, “just show us the rotten scoundrel and we will have at him.” Instead, the disciples react in a very telling way. Look to verse 22.
I. We don’t need to have an over inflated view of ourselves when it comes to temptation.
MT 26:22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"
This is probably the most sincere statement that the disciples make during the events that follow.
First and foremost, they were sad. Does it sadden your heart to see a servant of God fall? There have been a number of notable ministers caught in some very troubling situations. Failures run the gamut, theft, prostitution, you name it. Some of these were never really ministers to begin with, rather they were simply con artists who didn’t fall, but rather were never walking in Christ to begin with. Others have truly fallen, some to get back up, others to walk away altogether. Either way, it should make us sad.
Not only were they sad to think that one of their fellow members might fall, they also had the realization: “It might be me.”
They were probably all scared. They knew the risk that went with following Jesus. Each one was probably envisioning how his own betrayal might work out. “Could it be that I would become so scared that I would run?” “Could it be that I might be so afraid that I would turn my back on Jesus in his time of need?” Not only was this a possibility for each one of them, it was going to happen. It was even predicted in the Old Testament that the flock would be scattered. In one respect they all forsake him. But, Jesus is speaking of a much more deliberate action. Not an action done in the midst of fear and uncertainty, but rather a planned out decision.
Come with me in your imagination to the battlefield of Saratoga in New York where in 1777 two battles of the Revolutionary War took place. You will notice on that battlefield an obelisk or pillar standing as a monument to what happened there. At the base are four deep niches for the bronze figures of the generals who fought there so heroically. The first contains the figure of Horatio Gates while the second contains that of Philip Schuyler. In the third niche we see the figure of Daniel Morgan, but when we come to the fourth we see something unusual.
The fourth niche is empty. This one was for a general whose performance during battle merited honor. However, he later committed an act of treason and his name became associated with being a traitor rather than a hero. Yet at the base of that empty niche, we can see the name of this general engraved in the stone. His name is Benedict Arnold, and that niche will stand forever as a monument of one who went from heroism to treason.