The Sadness of Betrayal

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Leviticus 15-16; Matthew 27:1-26


When Judas, who betrayed Jesus, saw that Jesus was condemned to die, he felt deep regret. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, and said, “I did wrong because I betrayed an innocent man.”

But they said, “What is that to us? That’s your problem.” Judas threw the silver pieces into the temple and left. Then he went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5, Common English Bible).

I don’t know how many times I have read Matthew 27:3-5 over the years. Every time I read it I find myself shaking my head. Most of the time I shake my head at Judas for betraying Jesus for such a small price. But, then again, if you would do it for any price, large or small, you are a betrayer.

When I started shaking my head this time I realized I wasn’t shaking my head at Judas but at Chief Priests and Elders. They knew Jesus was innocent. They knew they had to take him to Pilate on trumped-up charges. They also knew Judas’ betrayal really was meaningless to their purposes. All he did was lead them to Jesus, something they could have done all on their own.

I guess what bothers me most with the Chief Priests and Elders is, they had the opportunity to give grace to someone they had led down a wrong path, and they chose to do nothing. Sometimes our decisions to do nothing can bring great harm.

Still, at the end of the day, Judas did betray Jesus. I recently read a quote that said, “The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies, it comes from those you trust most.” While I was looking for the author I now know is anonymous I was on a website that allows comments. One person said, “They are your enemy only you don’t know it yet as they are masquerading as your friend.”

I think Jesus always knew who and what Judas would turn out to be. Still, there was a level of trust that Judas betrayed, perhaps if not to Jesus, as Jesus knew what was coming, but certainly to the other eleven. That kind of broken trust is difficult to bear. It is evident that the pain was still very present by the way the Gospel writers deal with Judas.

The Chief Priests and the Elders were many things but they were not betrayers. They never portrayed themselves as Jesus’ friend. They always saw him as one who was a threat to their power and as such needed to be dealt with in the firmest ways possible. Hence, an innocent man died the most heinous death the Roman Empire had to give. It was a death made far worse by the additional punishment Jesus received before being sent to the cross and on his way there.

And, I can’t help but believe, had Judas given Jesus the chance to do so, he would have found that Jesus would have forgiven even the likes of him. And, if Jesus can forgive Judas, I think there is more than hope for we who believe.

Have a great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


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