In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One Of The Twelve
It was evening. Jesus and his disciples were still in the Garden of Gethsemane. The time for prayer had ended. “There came a crowd, and the man called Judas, . . . was leading them.”
We all know his name. It was Judas who was leading the crowd that had been sent by the high priests and elders. Simply knowing his name is not what makes us upset or angry. Luke adds these words, “one of the twelve.”
Since we have been reading along in Luke chapter twenty-two we saw this coming. First we read that “Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot” and that “[Judas] went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them.”
Then in the upper room we heard Jesus say, “the one who betrays me is with me on the table.” We saw it coming but now it was real. Judas had found the opportunity to betray Jesus. We saw it coming but how could it be “one of the twelve.”
Why A Betrayal
Judas was not only a disciple of Jesus, one who followed Jesus, but he had been chosen to be an apostle. Judas had been chosen to be a witness to the world that Jesus was the Son of God who came to take away the sin of the world.
We don’t know specifically what was in the mind of Judas, what lead him to this moment of betrayal. Some would say it was just creed, the temptation of thirty pieces of silver. Others want to give him a little out saying that perhaps he was just pushing Jesus to be more forceful in bringing about an earthly kingdom.
Was Judas disappointed because Jesus kept talking about suffering and dying? He had invested years with Jesus and had all this been a waste of time. If he didn’t protect himself would he be arrested along with Jesus? So Judas betrayed Jesus.
Not Thy Will
Betrayal is a sin. It is a sin against all the commandments. It is a sin that says “I trust in myself, my faith is in me alone.” Judas placed his trust in himself. He was not willing to trust in Jesus and to follow him were ever that might lead him.
It is a sin that says, “I love myself more than I love my neighbor.” Judas saw his needs being greater than the needs of Jesus. If Jesus was in danger, as he had told his disciples, then Judas responded by protecting himself rather than facing danger with Jesus.
Betrayal is a word all of us should recognize. I’m sure all of us could tell a story about when we felt betrayed. The season of Lent is a time when all of us are called to confess when we have been the betrayer. To confess when we have failed to love the Lord, when we have failed to love our neighbor.
Jesus suffered and died because our sins were so great. We betray Jesus every time we think Jesus didn’t have to do that for me. We betray him every time we think that all we need is a little help from Jesus because we can do most of what God requires.
We betray Jesus whenever we betray our neighbor. When we lie to or about our neighbor we betray our neighbor. When we say we forgive our neighbor but hold on to their sin like a get out-of-jail free card for the next time we sin against them.
We are guilty of betrayal when we look at another woman or man in a lustful way. We betray God’s authority when we break traffic laws that are meant to protect the safety of others. We betray our employer when we call in sick when we aren’t or cheat on the hours we tell them we worked.
All these betrayals also betray the Lord who gave you the command to love your neighbor as yourself. They betray the gift of your baptism and the Holy Spirit who was given to you so that you would be a new creation in Christ.
Lent opens our eyes to the fact that we are like Judas. We are disciples who betray Jesus with our sins. Knowing this makes us upset and angry with ourselves when we honestly examine our lives.
What is the answer to betrayal? One of Jesus’ disciples thought that the answer was to draw his sword and protect Jesus from being arrested. Jesus said no. The will of the heavenly Father was that Jesus be handed over to the high priests and officers of the temple.
The answer to the betrayal of Judas and then later Peter and then the disciples who ran away was for Jesus to suffer and die for the forgiveness of every betrayal. The answer to our betrayal of the gift of creation, the gift of redemption and the gift of a new life is to receive the forgiveness of sins that Jesus eared for us on the cross.
The answer to you and me who carry the name of Christ, who are counted by him as one of his disciples is to repent and believe in Jesus who overcame his hour of suffering and death. Jesus overcame the power of darkness.
My grief this evening starts with Judas. He sinned in his betrayal of Jesus. Yes he sinned and so do I. Yes he sinned and so do you. What is so sorrowful is that it appears that Judas did not have faith that his sin could be forgiven.
Jesus died so that the sin of Judas could be forgiven. He died for the sins of the high priests and elders who judged Jesus. Jesus died for the denial of Peter. Jesus died for the people who cried out “Crucify him” and for Pilate who thought that his sin could be forgiven by washing his hands.
The Lenten message is heard in the psalm that we spoke earlier, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness. . . . With the Lord there is plentiful redemption.”
That forgiveness and redemption is given to you. Christ Jesus died for you. Repent and believe.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria