Tag Archives: Betrayal

Fulfilled: Maundy Thursday

Read Zechariah 13:7-9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“On the way, Jesus told them, ‘Tonight all of you will desert Me. For the Scriptures say, God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” (Matthew 26:31 NLT)

When we read the Gospels, we get a sense that Jesus saw himself as a savior of his people. We can see how he he lived, how he taught, and how he ultimately took on the role of God’s suffering servant. We see that he claimed not only to be a teacher or a prophet, but that he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What’s more, Jesus claimed to be one with, and the same as, God Almighty, the great I AM.

His disciples not only believed, but were transformed by their relationship with Jesus and, in turn they helped tranform the world. Jesus’ views were not only his own, but ones steeped in his Jewish beliefs and his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each day this week, let us look at the prophetic connection between Jesus and the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.

011-last-supperMaundy Thursday. This is the day that Jesus had celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples. It is possible that this day was the day that Passover fell, which would have been considered a Sabbath day, or a day of rest, as well. On the week of Passover, the day of Passover is a Sabbath, along with the high holy Sabbath day of Saturday. With that said, John had Jesus being crucified on the day before the Passover feast. Thus, Jesus celebrated the feast early and, on “slaughter day” (when the lambs were slaughtered for the Passover feast), the Lamb of God was being slaughtered on the cross as the final and ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. This chronology would mean, if Jesus was crucified on a Friday as tradition tells us, that Passover that year fell on the high holy Sabbath day (Friday evening through Saturday evening).

This chronology aside, per tradition, Jesus celebrated Passover (his last supper) on Thursday evening. It is there that he wrapped a robe around himself and washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20). This, of course, taught his disciples that the master IS the servant of all. That no one was too high to do the lowliest of tasks. That the economy of Heaven dictates that those who wish to be master must be the slave of all. This is the day that Jesus gave his disciples his new commandment, to LOVE one another as he first loved them. The word Maundy by the way , from the Latin word mandātum, means mandate or command.

It was on this night that Jesus instituted one of the two sacraments instituted by Christ in the Scriptures. That, of course, is the sacrament of Holy Communion, also known as the sacrament of the Eucharist. It was on that night that Judas left the supper to carry out his plan of betrayal, and it was the night that Jesus warned that Peter, his most beloved friend, would deny knowing him out of fear for his own life. It was the night that all of the disciples would flee in fear of being arrested with Jesus.

The reality is that, in his moment of utter despair, Jesus’ closest friends and confidants fled the scene, leaving him alone with those who sought to kill him. This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah, “‘Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, the man who is My partner,’ says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. ‘Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs’” (Zechariah 13:7 NLT).

Yet, God being graceful and merciful, the story does not end there. Those who were scattered were not permanently lost; rather, they ended up coming back into the fold later, following the resurrection and ascension of the Lord. This fulfilled the words of God through Zechariah, “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God'” (Zechariah 13:9 NLT).

How many of us have found, in anxious moments of confusion and despair, have found ourselves denying Christ? How many of us have found ourselves betraying Christ? Remember, our Lord knows our weaknesses and has shown nothing but grace toward us. Are you willing to accept that grace, or will you allow your guilt to consume you as it did Judas? Remember that God is sovereign and that God’s sovereignty is displayed through grace.  All you need do is accept that grace and find forgiveness for your sins. Let us now take the journey with Jesus to the cross, where God’s grace is displayed for all the world.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” – Saint Paul (Romans 3:23 NLT)

PRAYER
Lord, forgive me for I am a sinner. Bring me back from to the path I strayed from and lead me into your Kingdom. Amen.

Fulfilled: Spy Wednesday

Read Zechariah 11:12-13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26:14-15 NLT)

When we read the Gospels, we get a sense that Jesus saw himself as a savior of his people. We can see how he he lived, how he taught, and how he ultimately took on the role of God’s suffering servant. We see that he claimed not only to be a teacher or a prophet, but that he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What’s more, Jesus claimed to be one with, and the same as, God Almighty, the great I AM.

His disciples not only believed, but were transformed by their relationship with Jesus and, in turn they helped tranform the world. Jesus’ views were not only his own, but ones steeped in his Jewish beliefs and his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each day this week, let us look at the prophetic connection between Jesus and the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.

006-judas-betrays-jesusSpy Wednesday. In Zechariah, we see the prophet giving up on his office as prophet. He had been embattled serving the people of God. They were divided over who should be high priest, many hardened their hearts toward God, and Zechariah felt that the time had come for him to simply let them have their own sinful way. This was not done because Zechariah was a quitter, but because God had given them the choice between their ways or God’s way, and they had clearly chosen.

Thus, the Lord God was speaking through Zechariah, when he said that he would remove the good shepherd and replace him with a useless, lazy, selfish one (Zechariah 11:16-17). As a result of their hardened hearts, they ended up following the prophets and leaders of this world, to their own demise. Thus, Zechariah requested, “‘If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.’ So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver” (vs. 12). Continuing on, Zechariah declared, “And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD (vs. 13).

Yet, Zechariah’s situation aside, this particular verse was foreshadowing what was to happen to Jesus of Nazareth through one of his closest friends and disciples, Judas Iscariot. It was on what has become known as “Spy Wednesday”, that Judas met with the high priest and the Pharisees to plot against Jesus. Judas agreed to betray his Lord and master in exchange for none other than thirty pieces of silver. Thus, Judas became like a spy. He became a wolf among the sheep and waited for the right moment to betray Jesus and have him arrested.

This, of course, was directly following Jesus’ revealing to his disciples that he was going to be “handed over to be crucified.” It was also following Jesus scolding his disciples for their chastizement of the woman who anointed his feet. In Matthew, it is written that the disciples became indignant because such expensive perfume could have been sold and given to the poor. Jesus put the disciples back in their place and praised the woman for her compassion toward him.

The question that puzzles many is this, why would Judas betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (about $600 in U.S. currency…a handsome amount in the ancient world)? Maybe it was because, as Jesus continued to press and antagonize the religious and political leaders in Jerusalem, Judas feared that they would all go down with Jesus. Maybe, for Judas, Jesus wasn’t doing enough against the Romans and he was among those who wanted to see a physical, bloody revolt. Maybe Judas, along with some of the other disciples, were indignant toward Jesus for the woman anointing him, or maybe for other reasons. There is, of course, the possibility that Judas was always a snake in the grass, was greedy, and looking for any opportunity to find a way to betray Jesus and gain money and status for doing so.

We can only speculate Judas’ motivations; however, we do know that the Judas regretted his decision so much that he took his own life. The blood money he was paid went to pay for a field, fulfilling the words of Zechariah in a new and most sorrowful way. The challenge for us is to look inward on this Spy Wednesday! Are our intentions pure? Do we follow Jesus for the sake of following the Lord, our Savior? Do we follow Jesus for the glory of God and for the Kingdom of God? Or do we have alterior motives for following Christ?

Do we seek out God’s agenda, or are we secretly trying to find ways of working in our own? Are we sheep in Christ’s fold, are are we wolves that have found our way in? Are we Christ’s own, or have we become snakes in the grass? These questions are not comfortable ones; however, they are important to ask. I think that we can find moments in our lives where we are truly aligned with Christ, and others where we are not. Let us be honest this Holy Week and pray for God to remove the inner-Judas that exists within all of us.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
We have two choices in love, faithfulness and betrayal.

PRAYER
Lord, forgive me for the times I have betrayed in you in my thoughts, in my words, and in my deeds. Guide me toward a life of faithfulness. Amen.

God’s People, part 54: Filicide

Read 2 Samuel 18

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Samuel‬ ‭19:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬)‬‬

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

  Part 54: Filicide. We’ve experienced David the shepherd. We’ve experienced David the brave giant-slayer. We’ve experienced David the warrior. We’ve experienced David the husband, David the King, David the cheater, David the murderer, and David the proud. With that said, we have yet to look at David the father. After all, David was the father of 21 children, 19 of whom made it to adulthood. The other two died, with at least one (probably both) of them dying in infancy.

Out of the 19 children, one of them was a woman named Tamar. One would think that an only daughter might be precious to the King; however, David seems to fall short in being a good dad to her. For one, she becomes one of many victims in the dysfunctional family that David has built. David’s eldest son, Amnon, ends up lusting after his half-sister (remember, David had many wives), and rapes her.

Of course, it would be wrong to relegate the rape to just being a result of lust. Rape always comes down to power, and David’s children were all vying for power, just as their father had. The children did not fall far from the tree. After raping her, the battered and broken Tamar told her brother Absolom who, in turn, brought the terrible news to David. What did David do to defend his daughter’s honor and seek justice? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Consider this the beginning of the end Absalom’s relationship with his father. In complete disgust and outrage and after taking Tamar into his home where she “remained desolate”, Absalom avenged his sister’s rape and had Amnon killed two-years later.

Following the murder, Absalom fell out of favor with this father and was exiled for three years. Alhough David had thought he had restored the trust of his son following the three year exile, Absalom had no trust or respect for his dad. He began to build support and ended up stealing the hearts of the people of Israel. After four years, Absalom declared himself king and David had to go into hiding.

We will discuss Absalom’s treachery in more detail later; however, in the end, David was able to gather his troops and plan an attack against Absalom. Again, we see that age old pattern of David’s. He orders that Absalom be captured and not killed; however, Absalom gets his hair stuck in a tree and David’s commander Joab, pursuing him, runs Absalom through and kills him. David later replaces Joab and eventually advises his son Solomon to have him killed.

We could take this account simply at face value, or we can read between the lines here. Absalom’s treachery was unacceptable and David, being the politician and king that he was, had to punish his son for plotting against him and usurping his authority. While I am sure it did grieve the king, there is little doubt that David knew that Absalom would be killed and may have even secretly ordered it.

As you can see, a life of sin amounts to a whole lot of death. David’s sins had completely and fully caught up to him and the weight of those sins had a profound and horrific effect on his family. They suffered because of his sinful and, sometimes, evil choices. His treachery toward God, the one who chose him and loved him, begot the treachery of his family. The treachery of his family led David to kill his own son, committing the horrific act of filicide.

How do we lead treacherous lives? How do we fall short of what God has called us to do. How do we harden our hearts and fail to live up to being God’s people! David was, perhaps, Israel’s greatest and most noble king; however, as you can see, he still fell way short of perfect. Yet, if God loved (and still chose) David despite all of his sins, do we have any excuse for thinking we are not loved and chosen by God? Let us put down our excuses and open our hearts, once and for all, to the love of God and loyalty to God’s purpose for our lives.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Saint Paul (Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)‬‬

PRAYER

Lord, help soften my heart and help me remove my the treachery within it. I am yours, and want to be faithful in serving your kingdom. Amen.

God’s People, part 37: Delilah

Read Judges 16:1-22

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray [Jesus] to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.” (Mark 14:10-11 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

delilah Part 37: Delilah. Who was Delilah? Was she a Philistine woman who turned on her lover to help her own people out? Or was she a Hebrew woman who was bribed to sell her people’s leader out? These questions and more have plagued scholars and religious thinkers through the last 2-3 millenia. The Bible offers little to no hints as to who Delilah was and what her true motivation was for what she did.

Delilah is the only woman in Samson’s story who was named; however, it is questionable whether that was her real name or whether that name was merely given to her to fit her character. Professor, J. Cheryl Exum, writes, “Whatever its etymology, her name is a wordplay on Hebrew layla, ‘night,’ for as the night overcomes the mighty sun (the name Samson, Shimshon, is related to ‘sun,’ shemesh), so Delilah overcomes the apparently invincible strong man, Samson” (Exum, https://goo.gl/N5yeZr).

Most people have tended to see Delilah as a Philistine woman. This is certainly understandable, as Samson seemed to have a thing for Philistine women. As a warrior, nothing symbolized his dominance over the Philistines than taking their woman as his own and mating with them. This may sound messed up in our time period, but would not have been uncommon for warriors to do back in that time period. Add in the fact that Delilah betrays Samson to the Philistines, and it is easy to understand why people would view her as one of the Philistines.

With that said, that theory is not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination. Would a Philistine need to be bribed by her own people to give up an enemy of her people she was not even married to? Her name, as mentioned before, was Hebrew (provided that was actually her name). So, it is possible that Delilah was a Hebrew who sold out her lover for Philistine money. Neither theory is conclusive and, therefore, this is all speculation.

What is conclusive is that, for whatever reason, Delilah sold out her lover. She made ongoing attempts to figure out Samson’s weakness, not even hiding the fact that she was trying to do so. Samson, the big lug, never even suspected anything and, eventually, gave her the information she was looking for. That proved to be fatal for Samson, who was delivered to the Philistines and had his eyes pushed into his skull.

The question for us is simple. What is our buying price? What is the price that we are willing to forfeit righteousness for. Whether she was Hebrew or not, Delilah was a child of God as we all are. Whether or not she was Philistine, she had the chance to serve God by not betraying Samson, yet she was bought out. As we’ve seen, she was not the first to have a selling price, and she was not the last.

It is important we ask ourselves this question: have we sold ourselves out and betrayed God? Perhaps it is over our political views, or over our view of “country first”, or over our business practices, or over our desire to please people. Whatever the case may be, what is our selling point? What will we take in order to “feel okay” with selling out? If we discover what that is, and how we might have sold out in the past, such awareness will hopefully prevent us from committing such an egregious sin and betraying the one who loves us, literally, to death.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That’s really where failure comes.” – Tom Cochrane

PRAYER
Lord, help me to become aware of me selling point, so that I can resist against being bought out by anyone or anything looking to take me away from your righteousness. Amen.

JOURNEY WITH JESUS: Holy Wednesday

  
Wow, can you believe Holy Week is here already? Lent has flown right on by and we now find ourselves in the midst of the holiest week in the Christian calendar. Take this time to reflect on this day within holy week as you read through a devotion I wrote during holy week a few years ago. Click here to begin today’s deovtion.

SON OF GOD: Maundy Thursday

Read John 13:21-30

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays Him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” (Mark 14:21 NLT)

JudasHave you ever read the story of Jesus’ betrayal in the Gospels? Have you ever noticed the sentiment conveyed about Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus? Have you ever noticed that as you read through the Gospels chronologically in the order they were written (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John), that there is a progression from cold to seething despise in the representation of Judas and his final act of betrayal? In Mark and Matthew, Judas’ actions are more or less presented in a very “matter of fact” way. Judas decides to betray Jesus, for which no reason is given, and he gets paid for the betrayal. In Luke, the author writes that “Satan entered Judas Iscariot” which led him to go to the high priests. In John, Jesus calls Judas “a devil” (John 6:70) and Judas was possessed by Satan, who entered him following eating the bread at the Last Supper (John 13:26).

Since the moment he decided to betray Jesus, Judas has certainly gone down in infamy. He has been forever remembered as the man who betrayed the prince of peace. What sort of man would do such a thing? How could he have possibly even thought that betraying Jesus is a good thing? These questions, and more, to this day remain unanswered. We’ll never know why Judas did what he did. It is easy to understand why a growing number of Christians, from the Gospel writers onward, came to despise him for betraying our Lord. Yet, the ironic part is while we hold Judas accountable (perhaps more than accountable) for his actions, we give the other disciples a complete pass. After all, while Judas actively betrayed Jesus, didn’t the others betray him too? Which one of them stood by Jesus’ side in his time of need? They all deserted, they all fled, they all abandoned him…and in some sense…they all betrayed him.

Yet all of the Gospel accounts are consistent on one thing, if not on their view of Judas himself. They are all consistent on the fact that Judas was welcome at the table of grace, on the fact that Judas was welcome to share in the last supper, but a Jesus who was well aware of his deceit. While we’ll never know what was in Jesus’ mind at the time, it is consistent with his teaching on not judging, and loving even one’s enemies. In fact, Judas wasn’t an enemy at all, he was a friend and he was a trusted confidant of Jesus’. Yet, instead of reacting negatively toward Judas, Jesus pitied him and made room for him at the Last Supper. I would like to believe that Jesus wished that Judas would be able to forgive himself and eventually rejoin the disciples in spreading the Gospel message; however, I also believe that Jesus knew that Judas would never be able to.

The question for us, out of all of this, is how far are you willing to take the Jesus’ command to love? By his very example, Jesus showed us that he wasn’t being hypothetical or theoretical in his calling for us to love our neighbor as ourselves, including our enemies. How far are you willing to go in your love of others? Will you love others, including your enemies, even if it comes at a great personal cost? Today’s challenge, as we approach the Lord’s table of grace at the Last Supper, is to reflect on your call LOVE OTHERS, just as Christ has loved you. Will you follow Jesus in living a life of LOVE, or will you abandon him and his cause for your own comfort and safety? The choice is, ultimately, up to you.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5:46-48 NLT)

PRAYER
Lord, help me to open myself up to your love and help me grow to be a person who more fully loves others, even those who I would otherwise consider to be my enemies. Amen.

Journey with Jesus: Holy Thursday

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 26:17-75; Mark 14:12-72; Luke 22:7-71; John 13 – 18:27

Christ-in-the-garden-of-gethsemaneAN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

Turn, O LORD! How long? Have compassion on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.* O woe this night! Jesus had us prepare for our passover feast together, and so we found this room and had it set aside for us to be together and to celebrate the night the angel of death passed over Egypt. Little did I know that death would be passing over us.

At the table, Jesus began to act very cryptically. He took his robe off and tied it around his waist like a common servant. Then he proceeded to wash everyone’s feet. I tried to protest it, but he wouldn’t let me. He told me that if I didn’t allow him to I would have no share with him in the Kingdom of Heaven! Can you imagine it. So I relented and allowed him to wash me.

Finally, he took the unleavened bread and the wine, blessed them both, and said that they were his body and his blood, broken and poured out for the a new covenant. He said that he was going to die and that we could not follow him, that one of us would betray him and that I would deny him three times! I just couldn’t believe it.

Following the meal we went to the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus asked us to stay up with him and pray. But we were so exhausted that we fell asleep. Jesus woke us up a couple of times but we could not stay awake. But then we heard the soldiers marching toward us and the night was lit up by their torches! They came and arrested Jesus, binding him up like a common criminal! I tried to stop them, but Jesus told me to put away my sword. He said that “Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword.” And with that they took him!

I am so confused, so lost, so fearful for what lies ahead. I am going to the house of the high priest now. I am afraid that people might arrest me, but I just have to go and to find out what happens to our teacher, to my Lord. I just have to know. God help me in this hour of bitter darkness!

*Psalms 90:13-15

REFLECTION

This night, nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples, and arrested like a common criminal. He was taken away in the dark of night, and brought to the house of the high priest. Jesus of Nazareth was to be abandoned by all of his disciples, condemned a blasphemer and was to be handed over to the Romans to be tried for committing treason against the empire.

Even Peter, the rock on which the church would be built, was afraid he would be arrested and denied knowing Jesus. Like Peter, we all have done our share of denying Jesus. Like Judas, we all have had our share of betraying Jesus. In fact, when we live in a way counter to how Jesus calls us to live, we are betraying and denying the very same Christ who lives within us.

But this reflection is not being written to guilt you; rather, it is written to bring you great hope. There is hope in knowing that Jesus shared last supper with the very ones who would betray, deny and abandon him. Even in those painful hours, Jesus extended Grace, Love and Compassion to those who would not extend it back to him. Jesus NEVER stops extending his hope, healing, and wholeness to us. And that is truly Good News.

So, spend this moment now to pause and reflect on the ways that you have betrayed, denied and abandoned Christ and his mission. Take this moment to peer into your soul and search for those moments of fear, confusion and shame. Then shift your focus to the countless blessings, the endless grace God has given you despite those moments. Think of all the times God was present in your life, even in the moments of denial and betrayal. Feel God’s presence with you now and meditate of the endless love God has for you.

PRAYER

Take this time to pray a prayer from your heart.