March 30, 2017 • Life for Leaders
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?”
Betrayal. I expect many of us have experienced it, and often in the course of our work. Betrayal happens when someone we have trusted turns on us, rejecting us, perhaps even injuring us. It’s not uncommon for people who work in highly competitive companies or industries to experience betrayal several times throughout their career. In praying with people who have been deeply hurt by others. I’ve felt betrayed a few times. And, if truth be told, I expect some former colleagues might have felt betrayed by me, no matter what I had intended.
The second of the biblical Stations of the Cross draws our attention to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. We know that Judas colluded with the leading officials of the temple in order to “betray” Jesus to them (Luke 22:4). We don’t know exactly why Judas did this. Perhaps he was disappointed in Jesus, whom he had expected to usher in the victorious kingdom of God through a glorious victory over Rome. Some scholars wonder if Judas was actually trying to force Jesus’s hand, believing that Jesus would defend himself against those who sought to arrest him and begin acting as the powerful messiah Judas expected. Others believe that Judas betrayed Jesus because of fear. It seemed to the disciple that Jesus was leading, not just himself, but also his followers and even the nation into a fatal encounter with Rome.
Though we don’t know exactly why Judas betrayed Jesus, we do know that Jesus felt betrayed by his disciple, with whom Jesus had shared so much of his life. When Judas, leading a group of temple guards to arrest Jesus, identified Jesus by attempting to kiss him, Jesus said, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” (22:48). The one Jesus had trusted rejected him, turning him over to those who would see that he was crucified by Roman soldiers on the following day.
As we look back on this scene, it’s easy to condemn Judas. Few people in history have been more despised than Judas and for good reason. Yet by heaping disdain on Judas, we miss the chance to confront the Judas in ourselves. I wonder about our own mixed responses to Jesus:
How many times have we betrayed Jesus, not in the obvious and literal way of Judas, but in our hearts and actions?
How many times have we confessed Jesus as Lord, only to enthrone ourselves as the true lord of our lives?
How many times have we worshiped Jesus with our lips, not with a kiss, but with words, songs, and prayers, only to reject him in our hearts and actions?
When I stand back and reflect, I want to be completely devoted to Jesus. But in the day-to-day challenges of faith, the Judas lurking within me sometimes reveals himself. I too can betray my Lord.
Yet, I want to be fully faithful, to steward well the trust Jesus has given me. I expect you do too. So, if we have fallen short and, in some way or other, betrayed our Lord, we come before him in repentance, asking for forgiveness, seeking a fresh start, grateful for his mercy and grace, which allow us to love and serve him in spite of our failings.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus? What did he want to accomplish through his act of betrayal?
Have you ever felt betrayed in your life? In your workplace? How did it feel?
In what ways might you be tempted to betray Jesus?
In what ways have you betrayed Jesus?
What helps you to be faithful to Jesus even when you’re tempted to turn from him?
Gracious Lord Jesus, this story of Judas is troubling. As I read it, I feel deeply sad, not only for you, but also for one who betrayed you.
My sadness is increased, Lord, when I consider my own acts of betrayal. True, I have not done to you as Judas once did. But there have been too many times in my life when I have chosen to act in selfish ways, in ways I know dishonor you.
Forgive me, Lord, for my acts of betrayal. Forgive me for the times I have rejected you as my daily Lord. By your grace, inspire and empower me to live for you fully, in every part of life, in every decision, every moment, every desire, every activity. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Body of Christ (Matthew 26)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.