Jesus Betrayed

Mark 1418 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 14:18–21 (ESV)

18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:21-25; John 13:21-30

Understanding and Applying the Word

In one of the most surprising passages in all of Scripture, we read that Jesus would be betrayed. Not only would he be betrayed, it would be by one of his disciples. Jesus revealed this truth to the group as he ate this last meal with them. One of the men who was at the table was about to betray him.

How could this happen? How could a person who spent so much time with Jesus, who witnessed the miracles, and heard all of the teaching, betray Jesus? This passage tells us about Judas, but it also alerts us that not all things are always as they seem. Judas seemed to be a part of Jesus’ devoted followers, but he really was not. He was more interested in stealing money from the group and looking out for his own interests. When he came to realize that following Jesus was not going to be profitable to him, he was ready to cash out, so he agreed to betray him for a price. We may also see people in our day who appear for a time to be devoted followers of Christ, only later to prove that they are not. Many will walk away from Jesus for the same reasons Judas did. They will realize that following Jesus is not what they expected. When their desires are not met, they will leave because they never truly belonged to Jesus.

We must ask ourselves, “Why am I following Jesus?” Is it because we think he is going to give us our hearts’ desires? Or are we following him for his own sake? Do we simply want Jesus?

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Betray Jesus?

Judas Goes to Find the Jews

Judas Goes to Find the Jews (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 26:14–16 (ESV)

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6

Understanding and Applying the Word

The account of Judas is shocking to us. We ask, “How could someone who spent so much time with Jesus betray him?” He saw the miracles. He heard the teaching. He saw Jesus face-to-face and still chose to turn Jesus over to the authorities for money. How could that happen? Luke’s Gospel tells us that Satan was working in the midst of this situation. Matthew and Mark only mention Judas as the traitor.

While it is true that Judas was deceived and influenced through the work of Satan, it is also true that Judas chose to betray Jesus and did what was within his own heart. He chose money over Christ. The sad thing is, every one of us is capable of making the same choice. Consider the words of Romans 3:9-18, which describes the sinful heart of mankind:

“…For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Our hearts are desperately wicked. Our desires are skewed. Like Judas, we too often go chasing after all the world can offer us as we push Christ to the side or out of our lives completely. Judas had certain expectations of what he thought the Christ would do for him. When those expectations were not met, he was ready to cash in and make the best of the situation. Many today treat Christianity the same way. They think following Christ or going to church brings financial success, marital joy, parenting success, perfect health, etc. When expectations are not met, Jesus is abandoned.

Jesus came to save us from our sins and to give us new life. He came to offer the solution to our most pressing problem: alienation from God. For those who belong to him, there is the promise of eternal life in his presence. Why do you follow Jesus? What is he worth to you?

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

(African American Spiritual)

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