“Jesus the Savior”: Preschool & Kids Leader Training for Unit 26, Session 4—Jesus Was Arrested
I have felt the sting of betrayal, and unfortunately, I am sure you have as well. What makes betrayal so difficult is that its power is in direct proportion to the relationship you have with the one who has betrayed you. If the relationship was marginal, betrayal can be more of an annoyance or frustration. But if the person was a close friend—family even—betrayal can be devastating, a deep, lingering wound.
Jesus knows how we feel. He knows the pain of betrayal—of the deepest kind—because He too was betrayed.
Betrayed by a Foe (Matt. 26:47-50)
Jesus knew this one was coming—He had said as much—but it still had to have hurt. Sometimes, I fear that we make Judas into a caricature. We turn him into the villain of the story as we imagine it. He is out of sight and out of mind for us as we read the Gospels, until, that is, we need him to pop up and play his role.
But we have to remember that Judas spent three years with Jesus. They walked mile after mile together. They ate together time and time again. They talked, laughed, and probably even wept together.
We don’t quite know why Judas betrayed Jesus. Some think that he was pretty much a scoundrel from the beginning and just used Jesus every step of the way. Others think he became disillusioned—he had hoped Jesus would have been a political Messiah and Jesus disappointed him. Others think that Judas’ betrayal was an attempt to move Jesus to action—Judas had hope that Jesus would step forward up until the very end.
Again, we don’t quite know what was going on in Judas, but we can form a pretty safe guess of what was going on in Jesus—love. Yes, Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. But what can stop Jesus from loving people? Even those who reject Him.
Betrayed by a Friend (Matt. 26:69-75)
Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Peter betrayed Jesus with his lips too, not with a kiss, but by what he said. Three times Peter denied Jesus.
“I don’t know the man!”
Three daggers into the heart of Jesus.
Yes, Jesus knew this one was coming too. Again, He had said as much. But once more we must remember to read the true accounts of Scripture with sanctified imaginations and remember that Jesus had very real emotions. We know that He was deeply distressed by what He was facing—His prayer in the Garden affirms this. Knowing what Peter would do surely did not minimize the sting of betrayal as it occurred.
Luke adds a haunting detail in his Gospel.
60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about! ” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him,“Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” (Luke 22:60-61 CSB) [Emphasis added]
Have you ever wondered what that look was like? Scripture doesn’t say, of course, but once more we can explore this, carefully, with our imaginations. For me, I have always believed that this was not a stern look—one of rebuke—but rather a sad look—one of brokenness. Knowing, and possibly hearing, His friend deny Him was surely painful. But I am not sure that was what prompted Jesus’ potential sadness. If Jesus’ look was one of sadness, I wonder if it was due more to sadness for Peter than because of Peter. This one stung two ways. And Jesus knew that.
Betrayed by a Family
We should not read Matthew 26 without asking ourselves a hard question: “What about us?” How might we—brothers and sisters of Christ having been adopted by the Father at the instant of our salvation—betray Jesus at times as well?
I’ve done it.
Maybe I have never been as overt about it as Judas was, or even Peter. But I have lived in denial of Jesus at times. I have shrunk back from proclaiming Him to others at times. I have become sheepish in living for Him at times. And I have lived so many times and in so many ways without reference to Him at times.
I have lived without gratitude. I have lived seeking to serve self rather than Christ. I have inverted the order of it all and viewed Jesus as my servant, rather than living as His.
I have done all of this and more. And I imagine I am not alone. You have too.
What deep marks of betrayal have we inflicted upon the Savior?
Let’s acknowledge them. Let’s confess them. But let us not linger upon them. Every wound we have inflicted upon Christ is always and forever more forgiven. In Christ, the One we betray at times, we stand forgiven and the beneficiaries of His righteousness.
The One we disparage at times is the One who calls us to revel in grace. Our failures are not final. Our future is firm. All because of the work and suffering of Christ Jesus.
Sacrifice has been the hallmark of Christian witness and the church has endured because of believers’ faithful submission so that Scriptures may be fulfilled and God’s name be glorified.” – Dexter MabenDexter Maben, “Mark,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 1322.