In the fall of 2013, the ABC network created and aired a new television drama entitled Betrayal. In the spring of the 2014, ABC canceled the show after only one season. In other words, Betrayal was betrayed. You would think that as common as betrayal is that a television drama about betrayal would have lasted more than one season. Betrayal happens to all of us, and it happened to Jesus.
Here are three harsh truths about betrayal that we learn from Jesus’ experience.
1. Betrayal comes from friends. Only friends can betray us. Here is what happened to Jesus. “Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Mark 14:43-47 (NIV)
Judas was a disciple and friend of Jesus. However, Jesus was ready for this betrayal and arrest, and he was not going to fight against it. Even though it came from a friend, Jesus was not surprised, shocked, or frightened by the betrayal. He had predicted this would happen. He knew Judas would do it. And he prepared for it through prayer.
2. Betrayal is concealed in darkness. Betrayal is ugly, evil, and dark. This betrayal of Judas towards Jesus happened in the physical darkness of night, but it was also a dark spiritual behavior. Luke tells it this way. “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.’” Luke 22:52-53 (NIV)
Jesus’ question points specifically to the darkness of their behavior. This mob was afraid of a riot from the larger Jewish community. Jesus had a great following and if they had tried to arrest him in daylight while he was at the Temple, the people would have started a riot. By coming at night with swords and clubs, they demonstrated their cowardice, their evil intent, and their fear of Jesus.
3. Betrayal causes others to desert us. There is often a snowball effect to betrayal. When one friend betrays us, others like to jump on the bandwagon. Let’s see what happened to Jesus. “Then everyone deserted him and fled.” Mark 14:50 (NIV)
Jesus had prepared his disciples for this moment and told them it would happen. Only a few hours earlier they joined in with Peter and stated, “I will never disown you.” Mark 14:31 (NIV) Just as Jesus had predicted and the scriptures had prophesied, they all deserted him.
So what are we to do when we are betrayed? Here are three ideas.
1. When betrayed, rely on the presence of Jesus. In Hebrews, we find this promise. “The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.” Hebrews 13:5 (CEV)
Unlike English, the Greek language often uses more than one negative in a sentence. In this promise as it is written in Greek, there are a total of five negatives. There are two negatives associated with the word leave and three negatives associated with the word desert. So we could translate it this way; “The Lord has promised that he will not never leave us nor not never desert us.” It ain’t proper English, but it emphasizes the reality that Jesus will always be with us and never desert us. He will walk with you through any and every betrayal you encounter. When your closest friend betrays you and others friends desert you, Jesus will not leave you alone. Rely on his presence.
2. When betrayed, rely on the comfort of Jesus. Here’s another promise in 2 Corinthians. “We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 (CEV)
This teaches us the truth that as followers of Jesus, we will share in the sufferings of Jesus—which includes betrayal. However, we also share in the comfort of Jesus. Since Jesus has already walked through betrayal, then he knows exactly the comfort we need. When you encounter the darkness and evil of betrayal, rely on the comfort of Jesus.
3. When betrayed, rely on the friendship of Jesus. Here’s a wonderful truth from Jesus. “I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” John 15:15 (MSG)
Even before they betrayed him, Jesus said “I call you friends.” Jesus was entrusting to his disciples the very things of God the Father. At first, they betrayed this trust; but after the resurrection and after Pentecost the disciples took hold of this trust of friendship and conquered the world with it. Even though betrayal comes from friends, Jesus is the only friend who will never betray you. He will always be your friend. Rely on Jesus as your closest friend.
When you are betrayed, walk with Jesus.