2015-9-27 Betraying Jesus

LUKE 22:1-6                                                                                    SEPTEMBER 27, 2015


It seems inconceivable that anyone would betray Jesus. The dictionary defines the word betray as “to give aid to an enemy; to commit treason and secondly to be disloyal or unfaithful. Judas has become the archetype for one who will betray another. What happened to Judas that led him to betray Jesus? Judas traveled with Jesus for three years hearing him speak and seeing the miraculous signs among the people. We can gain a few insights from Luke’s gospel.

Early in his ministry Jesus had warned that there would be opposition to him and also to those who are his disciples. Matthew 10:17-21 (NIV) 17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” Following Jesus will not protect us from being betrayed.

Luke uses the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread interchangeably. Luke 22:1-2 (NIV) 1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.” These are separate Jewish religious holidays but they follow one another so Luke connects them together.

The Passover is when the angel of death passed over the Israelites who had marked their door posts with the blood of a slain lamb. The angel of death killed the firstborn of every family in Egypt, including the firstborn of animals. The feast of unleavened bread immediately followed the Passover and was a celebration of the Israelite’s freedom from slavery in Egypt. Luke mentions these two celebrations which the people thank God for delivering them from bondage. It is quite ironic that on a day when one is supposed to thank God for deliverance that the authorities would plot the death of the next deliverer sent from God.

Luke has already mentioned the opposition of the religious leaders. Luke 19:47-48 (NIV) 47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.”These “men of God” who are supposed to lead the people by their sincere obedience in following the Laws of God are intending to break the sixth commandment forbidding murder. They truly love God don’t they? NOT!

We are known by our actions. Luke 6:43-45 (NIV) 43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” These verses are true for the religious leaders and also for Judas.

Luke 22:3-4 (NIV) 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.” Satan was able to enter into Judas because Judas had never opened his heart, his will to Jesus. The Jewish leadership had been unable to find Jesus alone where they could arrest him without a riot breaking out. Judas now provides the opportunity for the leadership to make an arrest away from the crowds.

Was Judas possessed and thus not responsible for his actions? Judas had closed his heart to what Jesus had done for people. In spite of all he had seen; Judas was motivated by greed. Luke 22:5-6 (NIV) 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”  Earlier Judas had been upset with Jesus when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. John 12:4-6 (NIV) 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

Judas by not yielding his heart unto Jesus was ready to be influenced by Satan and was tempted by his own greed. Whenever we fail to respond to Christ we end up hardening our hearts. Paul spoke of this to the church in Ephesus. Ephesians 4:17-19 (NIV) 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” Whenever we continue in habits that we know are wrong and sinful, making excuses for our sinful behavior, we are in danger of our hearts becoming hardened.

We are unable to peer into another person’s heart and see what is hidden inside. We do not always know what motivates someone else. Judas spent three years in Jesus presence and everyone thought he was a faithful follower of Christ. We should not be surprised when we see people we have admired fall into sin. Satan is still at work in this world and will not quit until Christ returns and puts him in his place, which is hell. Peter fell into sin and denied Jesus but he had given his heart unto Jesus. I bring this up because we will not be able to know for certain if those who have sinned are like Judas or like Peter. We must leave judgment in God’s hands.

There is a difference between Judas and Peter. Peter had given his allegiance to Jesus, with all heart and soul. He loved Jesus and yet he remained a forgiven sinner who was open to pride and temptation. Peter was not perfect and neither are we. Yet if we have yielded our heart and life unto Christ we belong to him. Romans 10:9-10 (NIV) 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  Our faith and our actions go together. Judas, on the other hand, never yielded up his heart and life. Judas never truly loved Jesus and thus could be swayed into betraying Jesus because he loved money more than Jesus. He later regretted his actions, but it was too late for him.

This passage is important for two reasons. We are in a spiritual battle and must be aware of Satan’s schemes. Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV) 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Satan seeks to trip us up. So beware!

Secondly, we must pray for one another as we see our brothers and sisters in the faith struggling with the troubles of this life. We are unable to change people. Only the Holy Spirit can change the inner heart and turn us to Christ. So may we join in praying for believers and for non-believers trusting in our Lord to work in each heart in accordance to his will.

Let us pray.