If you have ever been betrayed by someone you understand the pain and hurt it can cause. No one wants to be betrayed. When someone is your friend have been loyal to you and then they turn their back on you and turn against you it will create grief and heartache. It hurts.
When I talk about betrayal, I am referring to the pain, anger, or disappointment of being deceived by someone you trusted. Today, we are going to look at Jesus being betrayed by Judas. Along the way, we are going to consider some Biblical truth about betrayal and how to deal with it successfully.
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. (Mark 14:10-11, NLT)
Judas is the poster child for betrayal. From Judas we see five lessons every follower of Jesus needs to know.
Betrayal reminds us that closeness does not mean commitment.
Number one, betrayal reminds us that closeness does not mean commitment. In verse 10 Mark mentions Judas Iscariot and reminds us that he was one of the twelve disciples.
- As one of the twelve, Judas was able to hear some incredible teaching by Jesus. Jesus would have heard the Lord’s message about the kingdom of God, repentance, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and commitment to God. He would have heard sermons like the Lord’s sermon on the mount. He would have been able to ask questions along with the other disciples in private away from the crowds. He would have received unique attention from Jesus in regard to his spiritual growth.
- As one of the twelve, Judas was trusted with the ministry’s moneybag (John 12:6).
- As one of the twelve, Judas was able to witness some incredible miracles by Jesus. Judas would have seen Jesus walk on water, calm a storm, feed the 5000, cast out demons, raise the dead, heal lepers, give sight to the blind, cause the lame to walk, and the death to hear. He would have seen Jesus perform miracle after miracle from one village to another. He had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. With his own eyes, he saw the clearest evidence. With his own ears, he heard the finest teaching. With his own feet, he followed the greatest example.
- As one of the twelve, Judas was able to perform some incredible miracles by Jesus. For example, back in Mark 6, we are told that Jesus “called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits…. So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people…” (Mark 6:7, 12-13; NLT). He was one of the twelve. This is tricky because even though Judas was one of the twelve, he was not really a follower of the Lord. He was not a true disciple. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 7 when He said, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws’” (Matt. 7:21-23, NLT). That’s Judas. False believers can mimic true believers even to the point of doing miracles in Jesus’ name. He may have been one of the twelve, but he wasn’t true follower of Jesus.
- I think Judas is one of those characters in the Bible that God uses to bring up uncomfortable thoughts about ourselves or others. Judas is that person who loves all the stuff around Jesus, but not Jesus. They love the prophesies, the casting out of demons, and the miracles but not Jesus. They love the worship and music, but not Jesus. They love helping others and being a part of something bigger than themselves, but not Jesus. They love the potential of gaining prestige and authority in a church, but not Jesus. They love the experience of going on a mission trip and learning Gods Word at Bible studies, but they don’t love Jesus. They love the stuff that comes with Jesus, but not Jesus.
At some point something horribly strange happened. Luke tells us that it was at this moment that “Satan entered into Judas Iscariot” (Luke 22:3, NLT). Satan did not delegate this task out to one of his demons. In Satan’s mind this was a crucial piece of the puzzle to bringing down and defeating Jesus. For Satan, this was personal. Satan would infiltrate the disciples and possess one of them. He just needed the right person and the right opportunity to do this. He found that person and opportunity in Judas.
When you study Satanic possession, not demonic possession, you will quickly notice that those possessed by Satan don’t appear to be possessed. They are calm, cunning, intelligent, and often appear godly. They are able to gain the trust of people and earn their confidence. On a worldwide scale, the same thing will happen when the AntiChrist appears.
In the case of Judas, His possession was very subtle. When John was describing this moment after the fact he said, “the devil had already prompted Judas… to betray Jesus” (John 13:2, NLT).
Before we move on, let me give you a couple of thoughts.
- First, just as God is looking for men and women to be His instruments and vessels to serve His purposes and His kingdom, so is Satan. A person can be the instrument of good or of evil, of God’s kingdom or Satan’s kingdom. One of the things Satan loves to do is to cause people to betray Jesus and betray others. Betrayal defies everything about Jesus’ statement to love God and love others.
- Second, this sounds like Judas didn’t have a choice, but he did. Judas is responsible for his actions, his choice, and his decision. Satan did not enter Judas against Judas’ will. Whether Judas was aware of it or not, he opened the door to let Satan come into his heart. Satan could not have entered unless Judas had opened the door. There is no handle on the outside of the door of the human heart. It must be opened from within.
Betrayal hurts, but it should not be a surprise.
Number two; betrayal hurts, but it should not be a surprise. Watch this carefully, Mark tells us that Judas went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. Jesus was not surprised by this because back in Mark 9 Jesus said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies” (vs. 31, NLT). Then in Mark 10 Jesus said, “We’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law” (vs. 33, NLT). This betrayal from someone who was in His inner circle and who they had trusted with the finances of His ministry did not take Jesus by surprise. In the same way, when you are betrayed, it should not take you by surprise. Let me show you.
By definition, betrayal can only happen with people you trust. Jesus and the disciples trusted judas. Even when it does not surprise you, it still hurts.
Jesus says something to His followers about betrayal in Mark 13:12, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed” (NLT). As the time for His return gets closer and closer believers will be betrayed by the people they should be able to trust.
The apostle Paul said something to this affect in 2 Timothy 3, “You should know this… that in the last days there will be very difficult times.2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (vs. 1-5, NLT). In the middle of all that we are warned that friends will betray friends. The reason why people betray those closest to them is because of sin and selfishness, and we will look at that in a moment. When you are betrayed, you will be hurt, but you don’t need to be surprised.
Betrayal is wrong but seems right at the time.
Number three, betrayal is wrong, but seems right at the time. Mark tells us, They were delighted when they heard why he had come. When they were told that Judas, one of the twelve, had come to turn Jesus in and help them arrest Jesus they were thrilled and overjoyed. They were not expecting this. Someone from Jesus’ inner circle has turned against Him. They could not have asked for anything better. Not only did this make things easier for them, but later they could say, “There must have been something wrong with Jesus, because one of His closest leaders turned Him in.”
There is an odd thing happening here. They are so unaware or in denial of who Jesus really is that the religious leaders seem to find joy in their sin and rebellion against God. I think, at this moment, Judas rejoiced with them. Remember, his thoughts and emotions are under the influence of Satan himself. I believe that Satan, Judas, and the religious leaders were all delighted in the arrangement to arrest Jesus. For Judas, I’m convinced that he thought what he was doing was right and the best thing for himself. Jesus was not who he thought He was. The earthly kingdom that Judas thought Jesus was going to set up was not going to happen. From Judas’ perspective he just wasted three years of his life following Jesus around. For him to disconnect with Jesus, to be disloyal to Jesus and betray Him seemed to make sense.
Something similar happens in relationships. When one spouse betrays the other, it seems like the best thing. It’s a deception. When one friend betrays another, it seems like the right thing to do at the time. It seems beneficial. It seems like this will make things right or justify something in some way.
Betrayal appears reasonable but is selfish in nature.
Number four, betrayal appears reasonable, but is selfish in nature. Mark then tells us, and they promised to give him money. Why would they promise to give Judas money? Who brought up the idea of paying money for Jesus first? It wasn’t the religious leaders, it was Judas. Matthew adds a little insight into this meeting between Judas and the religious leaders when he says, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” (Matt. 26:14-15, NLT). Why would Judas ask for money? Because he was selfish and greedy. How do we know that? Because John tells us, “He was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself” (John 12:6, NLT). Selfishness, greed, and betrayal often go together. Betrayal occurs when the person values something more than their relationship with you. This seems reasonable at the time, but it is motivated by selfishness.
One of the lessons that Jesus taught dealt with money. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24, CSB). Judas is a prime example of this.
There will be people in your life who will claim to love you but will turn their back on you when it is no longer convenient for them. They will abandon you, betray you, and hurt you. Thankfully, there is One who promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). God is never going to betray you. He is faithful. He is committed to you. He loves you. He will always be your rock, shield, and fortress.
Betrayal feels like a stumbling block but can be a steppingstone to God’s blessings.
Number five, betrayal feels like a stumbling block, but can be a steppingstone to God’s blessings. Mark concludes this little section about Judas by saying, So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. The reality is, without Judas’ betrayal the arrest of Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus, and the death of Jesus on the cross would not have happen. Behind all this is God’s sovereignty and providence, but from a human perspective Judas’ betrayal was necessary to get Jesus to the cross and eventually die for our sins. At the time of the betrayal, it looked like a stumbling block or roadblock in God’s plan, but it actually was a necessary steppingstone that God used to bring about the greatest blessing of all, the forgiveness and salvation of people. As Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus God saw this as an opportunity to fulfill His purposes.
This is the kind of thing that reminds me of God’s Word when it says things like, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT). God is able to take betrayal and turn it into a blessing. Joseph, after being betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, spending time in a dungeon, and after many years making his way to the second highest position in Egypt his brothers stood before him and Joseph said, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people” (Genesis 50:20, CSB).
When you are betrayed, it is going to sting. It will hurt. You can either choose to become bitter or look for God’s blessings in it. Let betrayal push you into God’s blessings, not personal bitterness. Let it cause you to display grace, forgiveness, and mercy. Let the hurt deepen your relationship with God and deepen your relationship with others. God has a plan. God is in control. God is using what you view as betrayal to take you into a new season of life. Instead of letting it become a stumbling block, let it be a steppingstone into God’s blessings.
As we wrap this up, I want to talk to two people.
- To the one who has been hurt by betrayal. Jesus knows how you feel. He knows the disappointment and the pain that comes from betrayal. As Jesus is being nailed to the cross, He says something significant, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). They know they betrayed you, but they don’t know the full extent of their actions. Jesus is showing you to forgive them.
- To the one who has betrayed another. Go and ask for forgiveness. Tell them you were wrong. Make it a right as you can.
 This is the first of two times Satan entered Judas (Luke 22:3; John 13:27).
 Why did Judas decide to go to the leading priests? Why not someone else? Because the Bible tells us, “The leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him” (John 11:57, NLT). This tells me Judas had thought about this. At some point Judas made the decision and took the initiative to betray Jesus.
 Mark tells us that Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. This is premeditated betrayal. He starts thinking about the best place, the best time, and the quickest way to get this done. He goes back to Jesus eats with Him and the disciples, listens to their discussion, tries to appear normal, like nothing has changed. He is acting like a disciple, but he is not one. He is wearing a mask. He is actively looking for a way to turn Jesus over to the authorities. When people decide to betray you, they will act normal and say the right things, do the right things, but are actively looking for a way to betray you.