Betrayal is painful. Breaking a marriage covenant through infidelity does tremendous, often irreparable damage. Being betrayed by a best friend—even if it’s your first-grade best friend—stings the heart and derails us for a while. Left unchecked, betrayal can cause the heart to become bitter and hardened. If our heart does not remain soft and pliable in the hands of the Potter, our ability to serve the Body of Christ diminishes. Nothing makes the devil happier than a hardened old lump of useless clay, for it results in a functionless Christian.
Christ understood betrayal. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples who followed Jesus most closely, betrayed Him in a very sinister way. After being at a meal with Jesus and the other disciples, Judas left the dinner and began a downward spiral of betrayal and deceit as he openly took steps to lead Roman authorities directly to the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek to signal the Lord’s identity to the murderous assembly of soldiers and officials, it was truly a kiss of betrayal.
Judas chose, in that betrayal, to end a unique relationship with the Lord that few people enjoyed. He had been in charge of the money that came to the disciples and Jesus, so no doubt he had frequent meetings with the Lord to discuss expenses, offerings, gifts, and so on. Jesus spent more time talking and teaching His disciples than any other group, and the brotherhood they cultivated must have been extraordinary. The Lord’s Supper that night was an intimate time of dining and fellowship between Jesus and the twelve. By one wrong decision to betray, Judas broke fellowship with the Lord. He ultimately took his own life, as remorse for his sin of betrayal overtook him.
But how did Jesus respond to betrayal? The scripture says, On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of My blood. Do this in remembrance of Me as often as you drink it," 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (NLT).
The Greek word for “betrayed,” paradidomi, means to hand over from or abandon, with a sense of close personal involvement. Judas blatantly chose to abandon his covenant of brotherhood, loyalty, and friendship with Jesus. The Lord did not respond in a revengeful way. He did not write Judas off. He knew that Judas was going to betray Him, and even told him to do it quickly. He also knew that Judas was not capable of loyalty, and even though he could not be trusted, the Lord loved him and continued to be kind to him.
Whether Judas partook of the bread and wine is controversial, but regardless, Jesus moved right past the pain of betrayal and served the disciples the first Communion meal. The reality of His death was undeniable, as Jesus no doubt watched his betrayer slip out of the room and downstairs to initiate the plan of torture that would unfold in a few short hours. Putting His own wounded heart and pain aside, the most important thing to Jesus was to demonstrate to His closest companions, in a tangible way, that the horrible death He was about to suffer—His broken body and shed blood—would make a covenant between God and them forever.
He set the bar pretty high for us: stay focused on serving God and do what is best for those lives you are entrusted with, even when the enemy of our soul throws a fiery dart of betrayal at us. It takes the strength of the Lord to do that! If you are wounded by betrayal, proclaim this, as you endeavor to rise above your circumstances: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13).
© 2021, Chris Werre