After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. When he was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
There can be fewer more difficult things to cope with than betrayal by someone you thought of as a close friend and maybe someone with whom you shared things close to your heart. To discover that someone you deeply trusted has actually been working to bring you down can be a shattering experience, one which leaves a particularly bitter taste.
Jesus seems to sense that Judas is about to do just this. We know that this was not the end of his sufferings, yet for Jesus it must have been as hard as anything to bear.
Of course, Judas was not the only one to betray Jesus. When it came to the crunch, Peter’s three denials of Jesus were a betrayal of the faith he had professed. It is possible for anyone to make such a betrayal, out of fear, or danger or even embarrassment.
Lord Jesus, help us to understand how great is your love for us. You endured the betrayal of friends as well as all the physical hurts that could be heaped upon you. May we share in understanding your ordeal and, if the challenge should ever be ours to face, may we not betray our faith but be courageous in standing by you as you stand by us. Amen
Stuart Brock is a retired minister, musician, and Training for Life and Service Lite teacher in the Northern Synod
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