The betrayal! – John 18:1-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 3, 2015
Did you know that Guy Fawkes (the namesake of the Guy Fawkes mask you see at every odd ball protest these days) was a traitor and betrayed his protestant homeland of England? He joined with Spanish Catholics in a miserably failed plot to assassinate King James and reinstate a Catholic king of England. He has since become a cultural figure of anarchy. He was and is no hero as some would have you think and in fact is a traitor and betrayer.
Have you ever had someone you considered a friend betray you? It is a hard thing to live through. One of the men whom Jesus personally picked to follow him betrays Jesus to the Jewish authorities perhaps thinking he can force Jesus’ hand in becoming a Messianic leader who would overthrow the Romans and the corruption. Instead greed gets the better of Judas and he receives 30 pieces of silver for his betrayal of Jesus. Here in John’s gospel Jesus finishes his personal prayer and they head to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is betrayed. Let’s discover what this means for us this morning…
Our excuses for sinning never really do not change nor have the excuses changed from generation to generation. The excuses Adam and Eve used in the Garden are the exact same ones we use, our children use, and our grand children use. We veil our sin and blame others, our parents, society, or God for our ungodly behavior. And when folks are disloyal to us and others, we find that…
I. Betrayal often hides behind others! (Vv. 1-3)
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
1. I like John’s gospel because he inserts for us a lot of intimate detail the other gospel accounts do not always provide. And here we find that “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley.” This is a valley that extended between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives all the way to the Dead Sea. Interestingly King David took this route after being betrayed by his friend Ahithophel. It was a place Jesus and his band of disciples often used. Luke relates that “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives…” (Luke 21:37 NIV) John also relates that “Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.” John tells us that they had a regular place there they went to: “On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.” Judas knew the place as well. He knew where Jesus and the rest of the disciples would be and he used this knowledge for his benefit. Paul would relate that “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV) Judas was such a person. While later he would regret his decision, now Judas is caught up in his sin, “So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees.” Jesus who never carried a weapon, who taught his disciples to “turn the other cheek” when faced with those intent on evil was now being confronted by an armed force made up of temple guards and teachers of the law, lawyers. “They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” Betrayal often hides behind others!
EXAMPLE: You’ve heard the expression, “Misery loves company.” Well so does just about any sin. We will justify our bad behavior by trying to blame it on others, that it isn’t our fault, or that someone else made us do it; but in reality we are the ones to make the choice or not. There is a reason why Paul wrote “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) and that Peter would teach, “Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” (2 Peter 2:2-3 NIV) It is never the fault of the one who does the betraying; in fact they will blame the one they betray! I am sure Judas felt justified in his course of action and here we discover that betrayal often hides behind others!
We know we should not be with certain people, but we justify our actions telling ourselves they aren’t so bad, they are good for me, or that they are my true friends. But we know they aren’t. We know we should not be involved in the destructive behavior we willingly have placed ourselves in but we justify it by saying this is what I need right now, this will make me happy, they deserve what is coming to them, or I know better. And when we are disloyal to God we do the same thing because…
II. Betrayal does not care who it betrays! (Vv. 4-9)
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
1. Hind sight is always 20/20. And here John writes that afterwards he understood that “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?'” Jesus willingly faces those who betray him and who would destroy him. Lest we forget, Jesus was not someone easily duped nor was he taken by surprise by Judas’ deception and betrayal. Jesus knew God’s plan and was following it to its conclusion. He knew whom they wanted, but he desired they, especially Judas and his other disciples, would understand what was occurring. Though unarmed, Jesus was in command. Make no mistake, they knew who they wanted, “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. Jesus calmly responds, “I am he,” Sadly, John relates, “And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.” What a friend we have in Jesus until he doesn’t do what we want him to do, then we willingly join those who would destroy him. Interestingly, “When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” There has been speculation over the centuries what occurred, but they were probably struck by the force of Jesus’ declaration of identifying himself. “I am he!” While some of the disciples relied on swords, Jesus knew that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) The word made flesh was confronting the flesh of the world! John tells us that “Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.'” Jesus does this to protect the others. I know this because John writes that Jesus responds by telling his captors, “I told you that I am he if you are looking for me, then let these men go.” As the Good Shepherd, Jesus laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). Jesus’ protection of his followers was a perfect illustration of his atonement. He died not only for them but instead of them. John reminds us that “This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me.'” (John 6:39) Betrayal does not care who it betrays!
EXAMPLE: Can you imagine betraying the Messiah? Here your entire culture, religion, and nation has been praying for, waiting for, and desiring that the Messiah would come, and you have seen him, heard him teach, and walked with him daily. You ate with him, celebrated with him, and were commissioned by him to heal the sick and tell the good news of his coming. In fact, you were one of the ones who rejoiced at how you were able to expel demons and heal others in his name! And now you are standing in the dim light of torches, hiding behind soldiers and lawyers to betray the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. Wow. Yet, we often betray Jesus for far less. We betray him because we think we deserve to sin, we betray him because we lust after someone or something other than his presence, or we betray him for the gaudy baubles the world offers. And in this we discover for ourselves that betrayal does not care who it betrays!
When we sin we do not care who we hurt. We do not care if our relationship with God is compromised, we do not care if others are saddened by it, and we do not care how it affects others. Because of we did, we would not sin so easily. Face it, when we sin, we do not care in the moment who it affects and here we discover that…
III. Betrayal often affects the innocent! (Vv. 10-13)
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.
1. Often times we want to strike back at those who betray us, but this is not the way a believer is to respond. In fact when we respond the way the world does those who may be innocent can be hurt. This occurs when Jesus is betrayed. We discover that “Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” In Luke’s account we find that the disciples had told Jesus earlier, “‘See, Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That is enough,’ he replied.” (Luke 22:38 NIV) and later “When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?” (Luke 22:49 NIV) The disciples’ focus was haywire. Instead of trying to protect Jesus from harm physically they should have stayed awake and prayed with him for strength for the trials to come. Jesus had asked them to stay awake but they had fallen asleep and when he finds them, wakes them up, they fall back to sleep again! Luke related that Jesus asks them, “Why are you sleeping?” and then tells them to “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:46 NIV) Like many of us who instead of praying for Jesus to strengthen us, we resort to sleeping like the disciples did or overreacting when we are betrayed. “Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'” Jesus remains focused. They had forgotten Jesus had taught them, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 NIV) Jesus is not telling us to not protect our families or selves from harm; rather he is teaching us to not respond in the same evil anger. “Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.” Betrayal often affects the innocent!
EXAMPLE: Can you imagine Jesus standing in the garden and when he is confronted by his betrayer and the soldiers whining, “It’s not fair!” You know, kind of like Anakin Skywalker, in the Star Wars movie Attack of the Clones. He is supposed to be the ultimate Jedi warrior full of more “force” than anyone else ever and he whines to his girlfriend, “It’s not fair!” When I watched this for the first time, I laughed out loud in the movie theater. Here is an adult acting like a mere child. Yet, there are those of us who do the very same thing. Instead of staying focused on Jesus when we are betrayed we lash out sometimes at those around us and blame others. Betrayal often affects the innocent!
Betrayal often hides behind others! Betrayal does not care who it betrays! Betrayal often affects the innocent!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.