Wednesday – betrayal

What a week!  After deciding to study Biblical accounts of the final week in Christ’s life on earth for myself –  I’ve got to tell you – my understanding is being re-shaped. And I’ve barely scratched the surface!

In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as “Spy Wednesday” indicating it is the day Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

The Sanhedrin was made up of all the Jewish religious leaders — the chief priests and the elders. It was the supreme court of the nation of Israel which heard appeals from lower courts and tried cases of greater importance than the lower courts. It consisted of  71 members headed by a president, vice-president and a sage or referee whose duty was to put into proper shape the subjects for discussion. The vice-president led and controlled the discussions and the president represented the nation before the Romans.

So on Wednesday these religious leaders gathered together in the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. During their meeting they decided to kill Jesus, before Passover if possible. But, because they were afraid of a riot among His followers they said, “Not on the feast day.”

In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, at the house of Simon, the leper. During the meal Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, no doubt prompted by the Spirit,  poured a quantity of very expensive ointment made of spikenard over his hair and beard. Some of the disciples were indignant about this, calling it wasteful,  since the oil could have been sold to support the poor. But Jesus told them, “Leave her alone. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has prepared me for my burial.” Matthew 26:6-13

Judas, the one scripture tells us Christ knew would betray Him even before he was chosen as a disciple, left the others and went to the Sanhedrin. He offered them his support in exchange for money. From that moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

For years I have complained about the numerous betrayals in my life, once telling a friend I trusted and loved “You betrayed me!”

Her response, “I know you feel betrayed, but it was the only thing I could do.”

To which I replied, “Oh, that makes it alright then! (sarcasm) Everyone I’ve ever loved, except Dick, has eventually betrayed me.  There’s no reason to think you would be different!”

Betrayal!!!  Small disloyalties that can be interpreted as unfaithfulness, treachery, infidelity, and ultimately betrayals. There are small betrayals, huge betrayals, deliberate betrayals, and unintentional betrayals!  Only someone you love and trust can betray you. Today I understand this!  Strangers cannot betray you. Because they don’t have the power to hurt you.  Loyalty can only be expected from someone whose loyalty ’should’ lie with you.  We don’t expect loyalty from strangers!

Spy Wednesday?

I don’t think so.  From today forward, in my simple understanding, this will be known as

*Betrayal Wednesday.*

Jesus was betrayed! By those he loved and trusted. Repeatedly!

A small, although not insignificant, disloyalty among the disciples cropped up over Mary’s loving gesture during supper on Wednesday.

Imagine it if you can… They are all gathered at the home of Simon, the leper. Jesus being who Jesus is, makes it likely their host indeed had leprosy when he met Christ, but was healed.  So Simon became a follower and benefactor of the ministry. Some scholars think this may be Simon the Pharisee who Dr. Luke wrote of in Luke 7:36-50. (possibly Shimon Ben Gamiliel, a sage and leader among the Jewish people and a direct descendant of King David).    But in any case, during the meal, Mary of Bethany approached Jesus carrying a tiny marble flask of perfumed oil, and in keeping with the traditions of the time, broke the seal and poured the oil over his hair and beard. Now understand—this was no small thing. It was a great act of love. Jesus saw it for what it was, and said she would be remembered forever, whenever the gospel was preached.

For several reasons the people in the ancient world devoted great attention to the use of fragrances, perfumes and anointing oils. Perfumed oils were used for religious purposes, in funeral rites, for cosmetics, as aphrodisiacs, and prior to the invention of soap and shampoo, oils were used to anoint the scalp to prevent head lice. It was customary to offer guests water to clean the dust from their feet and oil to rub on their faces as protection against damage from the scorching Middle Eastern sun. The spices and fragrances used for these oils were not indigenous to the region of the Holy Land. They had to be imported from Arabia, Persia (modern day Iran), India and elsewhere, making them extravagantly expensive, and highly valued.

Apparently Jesus disciples were more concerned over the cost of the perfume than their leaders impending death.  They became furious. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a years wages and handed over to the poor.” They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her action. Mark 14:3-18 The Message*

Jesus patiently explained the significance of Mary’s act. And I think I can see a mild rebuke for their disloyalty in his words.  I would have probably said, “what part of ‘I am going to die! don’t you get?” Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8

“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” As always, he practiced what he preached even in the face of such disloyalty; such betrayal.

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, one of his hand-picked disciples, went to the Jewish high priests and offered to betray him!

These religious leaders, who had been scheming for months to find a way to get rid of Jesus, couldn’t believe their ears.  Here was one of his own men, offering him up for a few coins! Reading the words of Judas Iscariot, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” makes me angry and sick at heart.  Yet, it was the only thing he could do. Like my long-ago-friend he had to do what he had to do in order for God’s plan to succeed.

It was a huge betrayal!  It was a huge betrayal with eternal implications! Matthew 26:14-16 And, it meant the end of the road for the traitor! Judas, that infamous disciple, whose kiss of death will forever sound through the annuls of history, hanged himself, but not before trying desperately to recant what he had done. Matthew 27:3-10, Acts 1:16-20

I found copious footnotes speculating about Judas during my study.  There are scholarly theories on who he was (not a Galilean, like the other disciples), why he was chosen last of the Twelve, whether there was always some alienation between him and the other eleven….and so on and so on.

I think Luke probably hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “Then satan entered into the mind of Judas Iscariot….”  Luke 22:1-6, Phillips   Please note, that is satan; the big gun in hell. Not one of his lieutenants, or corporals; not a prince of power or the governor of a principality, not a demon or an imp out of the fire…the CEO himself.  I think probably Jesus understood, when he recruited Judas, exactly how susceptible the man would be to the suggestions of the enemy.  It looks to me like there were telltale signs all along.  Judas was greedy, pilfering coins out of the money box. He was full of pride, had a sanctimonious attitude and showed little or no respect for his teacher.  In short, Judas was a rebel! Know anybody like that?  I could take a side path here and write about the pitfalls of rebellion for a day or two, but this isn’t the time.  I’ll just suffice it to say, rebellion, in God’s estimation, ranks right up there with witchcraft. 1 Samuel 15:23 And anytime a follower of Christ gets off into rebellion they open the door to their mind and invite the powers and principalities of hell to walk in and throw a party.  The outcome is, always, disastrous.

So…Judas snuck off to find the Jewish executive board, betrayed his boss for pocket change and then began looking for an opportunity to hand him over to them when no crowd was present to object.

Now get this… Judas went back, maybe even back to the dinner at Simon’s place, to keep company with Jesus and the others.  We know he was still with them on Thursday, as they ate the Passover meal in the upper room.  Talk about giving the enemy party space in your mind!

I’ve known for years Christ’s followers are dogged by the enemy’s troops.  We all have opportunities, every single day to chose between what is faithful and unfaithful; what is loyal and disloyal, what is rebellious and what is obedient. Peters says the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some unsuspecting Christian to devour!

What I’m not sure I clearly understood before is the significance of my choices.

Jesus loved and healed and blessed his followers.  Jesus loves and heals and blesses me.

Mary gave him an extravagant expression of her love, an act those around her saw as wicked indulgence. Jesus saw it for what it was, an act of love.  I wonder.  When I withhold my best expression of pure love for him… does that put me in the same boat with the ones who complained, swelled up with anger and nearly burst with indignation? Does that make me disloyal to the one who gave me a beautiful new life out of the devastation of my past?

I wonder.  When we are sick, but doubt his willingness to heal us until we ‘get it together’ or make amends for our mistakes, is that betrayal? When we stubbornly refuse to accept his sacrifice on our behalf  is that betrayal?

If, after knowing what he knew, seeing what he’d seen, hearing what he’d heard, Judas could open up his mind to the forces of hell and do what he did…?

Yes…betrayal Wednesday about covers it.

It was one day, in the week that changed the world, but it is a day I won’t soon forget. Because it has given me a crystal clear picture of what betrayal is really all about. And with God’s help, I will forever be more aware that my actions and choices can betray Christ’s love for me in small ways and huge ways; in deliberate ways and in unintentional ways.  I choose not to betray him. I choose instead to spend my resources in acts of love. With His help, I can.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

9 comments

  1. I am extremely impressed with your writing abilities and also with the format for your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it your self? Either way keep up the nice high quality writing. Easter blessings, Pete

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    • Well, Jesus did exist, read the writings of Josephus who was the Jewish htiroisan in Jesus’ time. He is documented to have existed about 6BC-33AD he lived around this time. Josepuhs was not a Christian but a Jew who historically documented the events of the time. Look him up;)God exists, look at philosophical and theological manuscripts, through thought, reason and spirituallity God can be proven to exists.

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  2. I like the simple way you look at betrayal. I will bookmark your blog and read again frequently. God bless and thank you. Eva

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    • This is another psgaase that is difficult to read ONLY to v.24. I suspect that will be a challenge for me all week because I want to get to Sunday and the truimphant resurrection! But, we should all ponder and think about the suffering.Last night, a friend and I went to an evening service at Ebenezer Primitive Baptist Church on the corner of Roberts Road and Spalding Drive (Ebenezer is the oldest church in Dunwoody). I have long wanted to attend a service there just to hear the music; Primitive Baptist Churches are known for their a cappella singing. The preacher mentioned in his message that as bad as all of the horrors Jesus suffered (and they WERE horrors), the thing that would have been worse than the pain of the insults, the beating, and the crucifixion itself was the separation Jesus experienced from God the Father. Think about it. Over and over in John, we have see where Jesus talks about his Father, teaching his disciples about the Father, praying to the Father. He and the Father are one. But, when Jesus took on the sins of the whole world and spilled his lifeblood on Calvary’s cross, he had to endure a time of total separation from God. Why? Because God is holy and pure and cannot abide sin. And in order for us to be reconciled to God the Father, a perfect sacrifice had to be made, and that’s what Jesus did for us.So, hanging there on the cross, he quotes Psalm 22 My God, why have you foresaken me? Oh, the agony in that cry! He knows why God the Father has totally turned away from him because he is carrying the sins of the whole world, past, present and future at that moment, and it is too much for God the Father to see. And for the first time in his existence, Jesus is separated from his Father what agony he endured, all because he didn’t want you and me to be separated from the Father.Amazing love, indeed!

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    • I agree, Gayle. Jesus was always siynag that he only said what the Father told him to say and only did what the Father told him to do. I can’t imagine what he felt to have only silence from his Father and at the same time having sin be upon him for the first time in all his existence. I know when I sin and realize it, it’s the most horrible feeling. Imagine the darkness and dispair of bearing all sin completely alone. On another note, I’m kind of proud of Peter and John for following Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard when all the other disciples ran away. Even though Peter denies Jesus, he did try to defend him in the garden when he cut off the servant’s ear. And even though that was the wrong thing to do, it was pretty brave in the face of all those soldiers carrying weapons. John may not have been able to do anything to help Jesus, but at least he was there when Jesus was being dragged from Annas to Caiaphas. Maybe Jesus saw him there in the courtyard and didn’t feel completely alone.Reading about the way Jesus was treated always makes me feel so sad and ashamed that the Master of the Universe, the Holy One, the Prince of Peace could be treated in such an evil, unfair way. I’m with you, Gayle, I can’t wait for Sunday when Jesus rises from the grave!

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  3. Thank you so much for allowing me to visit your delightful website–it is a treasure, a keeper & a blessing! I will share it with others!

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    • I am in awe of Jesus’ confidence and cmaomnd of this situation. When Peter lashes out with his sword It seems as if Peter is expressing fear or anger or just the human reaction that I can fix this with my strength . But Jesus, who is perfectly one with God, knows what God’s will for him is proceeds boldly and confidently whether it is with the soliders or the High Priest.

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  4. I don’t think Judas really bleeived in Jesus as God in the first place. He may have followed him because he wanted Jesus to save Israel from Roman rule, but it does not appear that he ever truly knew, as Peter did, that Jesus was the Holy One of God (John 6:68). Judas did not believe so he could not fall away from faith in Jesus. He just gave in to Satan’s temptation (money and perhaps political favor with the Jewish leaders for his help in fixing the problem Jesus was to them). Judas just naturally went farther and farther down the path of destruction because of his own choice of unbelief.Peter, on the other hand, truly bleeived in Jesus as the Holy One, the Son of God, the Savior. He betrayed Jesus, fell away you might say, for a little while because fear (a tool of Satan) took over. But Jesus knew he would repent and return to him (Luke 22:32). He even asked Peter to strengthen his brothers when he did return. I would even go so far as to say that Peter never really fell away in his faith, he just allowed fear to weaken it for a moment. That experience actually ended up strengthening his faith in the long run. My point is that I don’t think we have to worry that we will fall away from our faith in Jesus if we truly believe in him. Yes, we live in a dangerous world where Satan desires to sift us like wheat, but Jesus is always pleading in prayer for us that our faith will not fail. He is always interceding with the Father for us. We do need to be alert to Satan prowling around and watch out for the temptations of this world, but even when we fail the test as Peter did by denying Jesus 3 times, if we really believe we will repent and come back to Jesus humbled but stronger.

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