SHARING LIFE AT FBCBF ON APRIL 22, 2012 BY PASTOR BOB BENDER
“BETRAYAL” FROM MATTHEW 26:47-50
Betrayal—suddenly and without warning it stabs you in the back. You wince, for it came
unexpectedly. You are in shock as you turn and see who it is—“Et tu Brute?” You hurt in more ways
than one; in every way you can. Every drop of blood that falls from the wound in your back is matched
by a tear from your eyes. You trusted and that trust is broken. You loved and that love was thrown away
like an old newspaper. You were totally unprepared for this; but then, how could you be? The suddenness
of that moment is only exceeded by the sadness of the days to follow. We cry out with David, “My heart
is like wax; it is melted within me” (Ps. 22:14). We, like Jesus, when asked prophetically in Zechariah
13:6, “What are these wounds?” respond with, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my
You think you are alone in being betrayed and then you are aware that it is a universal tragedy; an
all too common occurrence; an all too familiar wound. Steven Deitz writes, “One should rather die than
be betrayed. There is no deceit in death. It delivers precisely what it has promised. Betrayal though is the
willful slaughter of hope.” Roger Woddis writes in his The Book of Mini Sagas that as Jesus returns to
heaven after the resurrection, He is received by His Father who says, “Good to have you back, Son.”
“Nice to be back.” “You’ve had a pretty rough time.” The Father’s eyes clouded with guilt. “Hope you
don’t think I let you down.” The younger shook his head: “You warned me, Father. But it wasn’t the
nails. It was the kiss.”
That kiss is all too familiar to us. It might have been the betrayer’s kiss of a friend in whom you
trusted confidential information. It might have been that step-parent who abused you. It might have been
that boss who dismissed you without cause. It might have been that work associate who tromped over
you to get that coveted position. It might have been a wife who had an abortion without your knowledge.
It might have been a husband who betrayed your marital vows with an affair. It might have been a
spiritual leader who abused his or her position in your life. It might have been a fellow soldier who failed
to have your back. Betrayal comes from those who are close to us because betrayal only comes from
those we love.
Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet and has stated His unending love for them as they were
reclining around a low table eating the Passover meal together. John was sitting on Jesus’ right and Peter
close to him. Judas was more than likely on Jesus’ immediate left. Jesus startles them by telling them
that one of them was going to betray Him. One by one around the table they asked their Lord, “Surely
not I?” You see, there is the propensity of betrayal in all of us—even those of us closest to Jesus. Peter,
always wanting to be in the know, gestures to John and says, “Find out who it is.” John whispers to
Jesus, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus whispers back, “The one I dip the bread in the sauce and give it to.” He
dips and gives it to Judas sitting close by. Only John and Peter know what Jesus means when He says,
“What you do, do quickly.” The others assume Judas was going to buy more food for the feast. He went
out immediately. It was night… in more ways than one. Judas makes a deal with the Pharisees for 30
pieces of silver—the price of a mere slave—and looks for his opportunity. It was to come soon as Judas
knew that Jesus often prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, so Judas leads a group of temple police and
Roman soldiers there. He had told the soldiers the sign by which they could identify Jesus in the dark
shadows—a kiss. Judas walks up to Jesus, feigning allegiance, “Hail, Teacher” and kisses Him on the
cheek—a common greeting between friends. Jesus—greatly troubled in spirit yet already having settled
the issue of having to go to the cross--says, “Friend, do what you have come for.” In this moment, Judas
sees the love and forgiveness in Jesus’ eyes. It would have been better if Jesus had resisted and resented,
but He didn’t. He is led as a lamb to the slaughter. So they seize Him in His last moment of freedom—
betrayed by the kiss of a friend.
By studying this classic betrayal, we see it’s all too familiar characteristics. Betrayers choose
their time carefully—at the time of your greatest need. Jesus was betrayed at the moment when He
needed fellowship the most saying to His garden friends, “What, could you not watch with Me for one
hour?” Betrayers also know the place to strike us as Judas knew Jesus’ secret place of prayer. They
know our place of agony; our place of weakness; our place of vulnerability. Betrayers also use their
relationship with us--that relationship of intimacy of one degree or another--to strike. They might even
encourage our openness and then betray us in an unguarded moment with a kiss. Hear the agony of David
in Psalm 41:9 as quoted by Jesus, “Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted
up his heel against me!” This phrase “lifted up his heel” is a picture of a trusted family horse viciously
kicking an unsuspecting and trusted friend from behind. Haven’t you seen this scene reenacted in your
life? You think you are alone, yet betrayals like this one are common in Scripture and in life. Abel was
betrayed by his brother Cain; Esau by his twin and Isaac by his son, Jacob; Uriah by his trusted king
David; Tamar by her half-brother Amnon; Samson by his wife Delilah; Job by his close friends; Jeremiah
by the very people to whom he came to minister; Moses by family members on his leadership team;
Joseph by his brothers; David, first by Saul at the beginning of his reign and then by his son Absalom at
the end of his reign; Paul by false brothers including Demas and Alexander—church members whose
names are eternally written infamously in Scripture; and of course our Lord by a disciple He had called to
His side, loved and in whom He had invested three years of His life--all betrayed by a kiss as it were.
How then shall we respond? We can only control what we can control and that does not include
others’ infidelity and treachery. You can control your response as these in Scripture did along with our
Lord’s example. Jesus gave us specific instructions as to how to respond and He gave it to us in the very
midst of His betrayal. It is found in John 13:34-35—verses that immediately follow the record of Jesus’
betrayal. Here is how you respond to betrayers—you love them as Jesus loved Judas and even washed his
feet. He tells His disciples that night to love each other—even Judas who was to betray Him; Peter,
James and John who were to be asleep at the wheel; Peter who was to deny Him; and the rest who were to
flee Him—not a real stellar bunch! Do you see yourself in this crowd—“Lord, is it I?” There are many
warts and some sins on all of us. The challenge to us is to avoid taking an atom bomb to an ant hill and
making a federal case out of a parking ticket as we relate to one another.
Beware: a wrong response to betrayal puts you in a place outside of the grace of Jesus (Heb.
12:14-15). Instead, we are called to walk a difficult path; a different place; and to be Jesus’ disciple full
of love and forgiveness for one other—even our betrayers. Jesus has a question for you—the same
question He asked James and John: “‘Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said
to Him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘My cup you shall drink’” (Mt. 20:22-23). I find it interesting
that this passage comes on the heels of Jesus’ prediction of His betrayal (v. 18). No one is exempt from
the betrayer’s kiss; no one who is a follower of Jesus; no one who seeks to be like Him or who wishes to
be used greatly by Him.
Whenever we are betrayed, two people show up—the devil and Jesus. Which will you be like?
The devil tells you to avoid that person, to look out for yourself; to never trust anyone again; to trash his
or her reputation; or to retaliate in like kind. You are exactly where the devil wants you to be—
discouraged, disillusioned and distrusting. In our lowest moments, we agree with Tennessee Williams,
“We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.”
However, I show you a more excellent way. Jesus’ promise to us is that the gates of hell will not
prevail against us! Jesus says to follow His example: be careful to defend ourselves; model love and
forgiveness; keep “entrusting yourself to God who judges righteously” (I Pt. 2:23); and even be willing to
be broken for the sake of others. We are to allow the Lord to turn this curse into a blessing in our lives
and others as they watch how we respond. Are you getting more bitter and bitter as you respond to the
inequities of life; or are you getting better and better? It’s one or the other.
David becomes an example for us in how to respond to betrayal. Allow me to read a portion in
Gene Edwards’ classic work, A Tale of Three Kings: “‘I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What
do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Just what does a man do in the
middle of a knife-throwing contest?’ The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’ ‘What is the necessity of
that? Or the good of it?’ You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king,
you will blame him and him alone, for your present hell. Be careful, for God has HIS eyes fastened
sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is
looking at another King Saul. One just as bad—or worse. God is looking at the King Saul in you. Saul is
in your bloodstream, in the marrow of your bones. You are King Saul! There is only one way to get rid
of him. He must be annihilated. David the sheepherder would have grown up to become King Saul II,
except that God cut away the Saul inside David’s heart. And what were the scalpel and tongs God used to
remove this inner Saul? God used the outer Saul. King Saul sought to destroy David, but his only
success was that he became the handmaiden of God to put to death the Saul who romanced about in the
caverns of David’s own soul. Yes, it is true that David was virtually destroyed in the process, but this had
to be. Otherwise the Saul in him would have survived. David accepted this fate. He embraced the cruel
circumstances. He lifted no hand, nor offered resistance. Because of this he was deeply wounded. When
the gore was over, David was barely recognizable” for the Saul in him was gone (pp. 21-23). Let’s follow
David’s example of accepting our betrayal and even being kind to those who betray us as David showed
kindness to Saul and to Absalom for that matter.
Joseph becomes another example for us in responding to betrayal. Notice how we are to respond
to betrayal as we consider the Steps of Betrayal. Betrayal always begins with a Dream—just like
Joseph’s dream of ruling. David had a dream of being king and was betrayed by Saul. Paul had a dream
of the kingdom of God growing and he was betrayed by so called Christians. God places a dream or a
vision in our hearts. It might be marital, vocational, parental, relational, financial, or a spiritual dream.
Every working relationship goes through three phases: dream, disillusionment and then determination to
make the relationship work. That disillusionment often comes in the form of betrayal to one degree or
another. Something happens; often someone that kills that dream with a kiss—the betrayer’s kiss. In the
early stages of your dream, you are dreaming that everybody loves you and you love everybody—Dream
on, my friend; dream on!
Betrayal then comes suddenly from a person or group you least expect it—those closest to you as
in the case of Joseph’s brothers. Those who could have stopped it or defended you are out of the picture
as Reuben was when Joseph was sold down the river so to speak. Others who could do something about
it and rescue you are out to lunch looking out after their own affairs as the cupbearer who forgot the
kindness of Joseph showed toward him. “Each of us suffers at least on hard-hitting betrayal in life. It’s
what makes us strong; it make us human.”
Perceived abandonment follows as we feel like we are forgotten by God and man in the midst
of our betrayal. But God has not forgotten you as several times in the Joseph story we read, “But the
Lord was with Joseph.” The Lord was with Joseph in the pit; when he was sold to the Midianites; when
he was in prison; when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife; and when he was forgotten by the very
one he helped to have hope of getting out of prison. For 13 long years, the Lord was with Joseph until his
dream became a reality. My friend, the Lord is with you as well. He has not forgotten your address. “We
are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed by not despairing; struck down but not destroyed”
(2 Cor. 4:7).
Next comes Opportunity for reconciliation. Joseph’s brothers appear on the scene in Genesis
42. Those who once betrayed you may be the very ones who come to you with a need. Joseph speaks
roughly to his brothers (v. 7). We are tempted to speak harshly to our detractors, opponents or betrayers
and in point of fact, we may even do so. But I would encourage you to resist the temptation and not give
them any more sticks to beat you over the head with.
The next step is interesting, as his brothers stand before him and say, “we are honest men” (v.
11). Here is Proclaimed innocence. Imagine Joseph standing there unrecognized by his brothers hearing
them brag about their “honesty.” Joseph is tempted to say, “Let’s talk a little bit about your ‘honesty.’
How honest is it to betray your own brother!?” Be ready for your betrayers to defend their integrity by
claiming they are honest people and justified in their actions. They have betrayed you; now they stand
before you claiming godliness. Once they go out on a limb and betray you; now it’s save face time to
justify their actions. Their initial response is to claim their own innocence; for after all you are the
problem, not them.
Next we want to give them a taste of their own medicine as we experience the Temptation to
retaliate. Joseph puts them in prison, muttering, “How does it feel to be in prison big boys? Take that for
what you did to me” (v. 17). Be careful not to retaliate in like kind as Jesus said we are to love our
enemies and do good to those who slander and persecute us. William Blake is correct, “It is easier to
forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend,” but we are to do it anyway.
But God gets to the offended and Joseph says to them “Do this and live, for I fear God” (v. 18)
and poses a solution to their dilemma in the following verses. We say “But my betrayer cares less about
doing the right thing!” That’s not the point; you are. You had better fear God, for if you don’t Fear God
and forgive, God will put you into prison (Mt. 18:34-35)!
As we do the right thing, notice God uses it to bring Conviction to the betrayer (vv. 22-23).
When we see that they are moving toward repentance or have embrace it; guess what? We are reluctant;
even unwilling to be vulnerable (v. 24). Now that’s a normal response isn’t it? But we need to move
beyond our guardedness and even be willing to be hurt again in order to be reconciled because
relationships are important to God.
The next step in resolving a betrayer’s kiss is allowing our real emotions to come out in the
context of forgiveness and Reconciliation (Gen. 45:1-5). The betrayed forgives the betrayer; the
betrayed calls the betrayer to “come closer” as they are reconciled and make peace.
Finally, the betrayed Sees the hand of God in the betrayal (Gen. 50:20-21). God is in control of
your life; even in the midst of betrayal (Rom. 8:28-29). In light of God’s sovereignty, Joseph then
provides for his betrayers, comforts them and speaks kindly to them. Psalm 105:17-19 speaks of God
dealing with Joseph until He was finished refining him. The devil can be the Lord’s errand boy if we
respond correctly to betrayal. While the betrayer thinks he has hit a bull’s eye on your back, and you
think they have missed you a million miles, when in reality they most likely they have nicked the target of
a character flaw in your life.
How then shall we live? It’s time to put away childish things. It is time to stop holding grudges
and not be so quick to accuse. It is time to forgive. It is time to write some letters, make some phone
calls and resolve some differences. It is time to even forgive some dead people who have had a hold on
us long after they have been gone. Now is the time to do the right thing. There is only one thing more
difficult than you being betrayed… and that is for you to forgive the betrayer. Someone has said,
“Anyone can be betrayed, but everyone deserves to be forgiven.” When we do, we will have more of
Jesus (2 Cor. 2:14-16, 3:4-5)!