Have you ever been betrayed? Have you ever had someone who you should have been able to trust do something that really hurt you? Has someone who should have protected you actually attacked you? Or has someone who you thought you could confide in betrayed a deep confidence? Have you yourself ever behaved in such a way?
One of the biggest regrets I have in my life is how I behaved towards a friend at secondary school. I went to a small primary school on the far edge of town and almost from day one I had been friends with Matthew. I remember in reception that someone had been scribbling on my work and the teacher had ignored it because my work was scruffy but Matthew was a star pupil so we swapped books and when Matthew’s work got scribbled on the teacher was furious. We stayed best friends all through primary school but by the time we went off to secondary school we had started to grow apart.
Because there were very few people from our primary school at the secondary school and Matthew and I were in the same class we stuck together. After a while however we found that we were often getting picked on and teased. Sadly rather than doing what I should have done and stuck up for Matthew I chose to turn on him and even told people secrets about him so that they would pick on him and not on me. Even now I feel a deep sense of shame about how I behaved. I have seen Matthew a few times since and there do not seem to be any hard feelings and he was seems happy with his lot in life.
We do not know for sure what Judas’ motivation was, although the gospels all emphasise Judas’ greed. I wonder what Judas was spending the money he stole on, as surely everyone would have noticed if he had better food or clothes than the others. Perhaps he was just building up a nest egg in case it didn’t work out with Jesus. Later commentators have suggested that Judas may have thought that Jesus was to bring in a worldly kingdom and he betrayed Jesus out of disillusionment or to try and provoke Jesus into taking action. Whatever his motivation Judas was one of Jesus closest friends and turned on Him. Judas clearly put his own needs or his own agenda ahead of Jesus’ and didn’t trust Jesus to meet his needs.
Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him before he chose him as one of his disciples and allowed him into his inner circle. Jesus spent years living and sharing His life with Judas, even putting him in a position of trust knowing that he would ultimately let Him down. Jesus knew that Judas’ betrayal was inevitable and necessary, but this does not mean that it was any less painful for Him.
What is more, Jesus knew that people would continue to betray him down through history. Sometimes it is major church leaders who succumb to greed or lust or begin to believe that their God-given gifts are due to their own brilliance. Sometimes however we all have times when we run out of patience with God and decide that we or our wants and needs are more important than God. This week when you are tempted, take a second to remember Judas and how what he thought would make him happy would ultimately destroy him.