Jesus’ Dark Night of Betrayal. Part One.


Holy Monday

Luke 22: 47-53 (MsgB)

[47] No sooner were the words out of His (Jesus) mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss Him. [48] Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” [49] When those with Him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” [50] One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. [51] Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, He healed him. [52] Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: “What is this, jumping Me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? [53] Day after day I’ve been with you in the Temple and you’ve not so much as lifted a hand against Me. But do it your way—it’s a dark night, a dark hour.”

Betrayal is a bitter fruit.

When your enemies do evil or hurtful things to you, it’s one thing, but when really bad things befall you at the hands of family or friends, the pain of that betrayal is multiplied exponentially.

For Jesus of Nazareth, this evening is like none other. This is a night for deep betrayals. First, a man who has been a close associate and intimate friend for three years has now turned away from that friendship. With little or possibly no outward warning, Judas suddenly decides that he doesn’t like the way his rabbi friend is conducting business for God. He goes to the other side and sells out his friend for a handful of silver.

I’m guessing, like the others who spend a great amount of time with Jesus over this three-year period, Judas likes a lot of what he hears and sees as he follows the Master. He hears Jesus, for example; personally call his name, inviting him to be a part of His inside circle of friends. While Peter, James and John seem to be the most closely connected with Jesus; certainly Judas must have excellent access to the Master for much of the time they spend together. As one of the chosen twelve, I’m guessing Judas can have Jesus’ ear anytime he needs it.

Yet, for one reason or another, Judas chooses to betray this intimate friendship with Jesus of Nazareth and leaves the group of disciples, looking for another path of enlightenment, breaking trust with those he once called brothers and sisters.

Before this night is over, other betrayals will come. Judas is just the first to fall. The other eleven disciples will follow as well. A team that once looked to be a tight-knit party of comrades for life is now coming apart at the seams. Each and every man who Jesus has mentored and loved for nearly three years will now default to his base nature.

Oh yes, at this moment there looks to be a sign of strength present as one of the disciples takes a sword and slashes off the ear of the Chief Priest’s servant. But this is too little, too late and, in all honesty, Jesus knows full well that He is not here this night to wage war in the way the world wages war. He is here to be betrayed. Sold out. Hung out to dry. By friends who said they are friends, but when push comes to shove, are all cowards at best, betrayers at the worst.

As we read through the first 22 chapters of Luke’s gospel, there are countless stories that give me reason to love Jesus and who He is. The healing stories are amazing. The stories of deliverance so encouraging. The signs and wonders speak volumes. And yes, the teachings and parables all point to Jesus as being the unique Son of God. But as I see it, it’s this late Thursday evening outside the garden on Mt. Olive that truly tells me who Jesus really is.

You see, a regular man or woman just can’t stand up to this much deep betrayal in his or her life. A normal person would throw in the towel when everything and everyone they have invested in for three years suddenly decides to walk away. A typical good person would collapse when betrayed in the ways Jesus is betrayed this night.

But not Jesus. Not the Son of God.

Instead of being crushed by these devastating blows of flat-out rejection, Jesus knows why He is here. He is God’s Chosen. He is the Christ who loves unconditionally and sacrificially even when the recipients of that same generous love reject and betray the very vessel in which it is served.

As I see it, it’s only the Son of God who can do what Jesus does during these dark hours of deep betrayal on Passover 33 AD. Even though everyone forsakes Him, He still moves forward on our behalf.

That, my friends, qualifies for me, hands down, the One sent by God.

My prayer: Lord, after three years of Kingdom ministry, bringing the manifest agape of God into this darkened world, one would think that no one could betray something like that. Yet Jesus, You saw each of your closest associates, beginning with Judas, turn their backs on You, betraying You, leaving You alone in this world to accomplish what only the Son of God can do. Thank You, Master, that despite our betrayal as Your followers, You still love us, died for us, and live for us today. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: So how has betrayal and rejection affected me and my faith? Have I allowed rejection by family or friends to discourage me so deeply that I’ve given up the work God has called me to do? How can I be encouraged by Jesus’ ability to keep going despite betrayal, so that rejection not win the battle in my life?

So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?

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