One of the best-known stories in the Bible is that of Judas and his betrayal of Jesus Christ. Jesus was destined to suffer and die, and there was a prophecy that He would be betrayed (Psalms 41:9 Psalms 41:9Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
American King James Version×). That Judas planned ahead of time is evidenced by his going to the priests seeking the thirty silver coins for his deed (Zechariah 11:13 Zechariah 11:13And the LORD said to me, Cast it to the potter: a goodly price that I was priced at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
American King James Version×; Matthew 26:14 Matthew 26:14Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests,
American King James Version×,15).
No doubt it pained Jesus to tell Judas to leave the last supper and obey Satan. It most likely pained Jesus even more that Judas betrayed Him with a kiss of friendship, recognition and brotherhood (Luke 22:48 Luke 22:48But Jesus said to him, Judas, betray you the Son of man with a kiss?
American King James Version×). Betrayal by someone who is close to you and whom you trust is far more painful than if an enemy appeared and brought you harm. When we ask what pain is greatest, we can list marital infidelity among the worst. Infidelity in our relationship with God carries with it a far greater penalty (Hebrews 6:4-6 Hebrews 6:4-6 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
American King James Version×).
We humans experience many problems in life—and for that reason, we seek those we can trust to support and stand by us. When we find such a person, we slowly let down our guard and, in time, there are few areas of life that we will not share. We reveal that which lies deep in our hearts and we become vulnerable because of the revelation of our weaknesses.
A friend is someone who stands by us in times of weakness or need (Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
American King James Version×). They are there to laugh with us when we are happy and cry with us when we are sad. We may expect danger from various places, but not from a friend. That is why the betrayal of this sort is the worst.
Family members are perhaps those we trust the most. One of the people we grow closest to in our lives is our spouse. We have a deep love for our children, but we realize they have to live their own lives. Our mate is the one we expect to be closest to—until death do us part. We expect even the closest person in our lives to die eventually, but as painful as that is, it is not betrayal.
“Et tu, Brute?”
William Shakespeare captured the essence of the betrayal we feel in his play Julius Caesar. In the famous scene where his fellow senators stabbed Caesar to death, the final and most unkind cut came from his friend. “Et tu, Brute?” said Caesar. “Then fall, Caesar!” It is as though that was the sword cut that caused his death. In the funeral oratory by Mark Antony, Shakespeare called it “the most unkindest cut of all.” Shakespeare grasped the additional pain that betrayal by a friend brings.
Jesus Christ was sent to this world to die for the sins of mankind. Paul noted that it is rare that one person would die to save another (Romans 5:7 Romans 5:7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
American King James Version×). His gift was so precious that we do not have words to describe it, nor do we have the ability to fully grasp this gift in our minds. His blood cleanses us from all of our past sins. At the point of our acceptance of His gift (at baptism), our sins are forgiven and our names are written in the Book of Life (Phillipians 4:3). God requires that we not betray Him or do anything that would take away from His majesty.
Satan and the demons take note of us—and Satan tries with all of his might to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×). One strong example of God’s trust is found in the book of Job. He knew from Job’s pattern of obedience that He would be faithful; God judged Job’s heart and knew that He would be faithful. Before all the angels of heaven, God proclaimed to Satan that in spite of Satan’s attacks on Job, Job had not betrayed God (Job 2:3 Job 2:3And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.
American King James Version×). Satan tried and tried, but to no avail. And Satan tried everything to cause Jesus to betray His Father (Matthew 4:1-10 Matthew 4:1-10 1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil takes him up into the holy city, and sets him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And said to him, If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. 8 Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. 10 Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.
American King James Version×).
It caused great pain to God when Israel betrayed His trust (Hosea 11:1 Hosea 11:1When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
American King James Version×, 8). Israel was the wife God chose. She betrayed Him in that closest of relationships—marriage. That betrayal brought a great anger and wrath from God and He divorced the wife He had betrothed unto Himself (Jeremiah 2:2 Jeremiah 2:2Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus said the LORD; I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
American King James Version×). God is God! He is Almighty, so even if He is betrayed, He never loses control (and one day will bring Israel back to Himself).
Humans who accept the blood of Jesus Christ and who have their names written in the Book before His throne are betrothed to Him. If they break their promise and turn their backs on the One who loves them and died for them, they will be cast away—eternally. There is no second chance for them (Hebrews 6:6 Hebrews 6:6If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
American King James Version×). The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×). Betrayal of that great love and gift deserves to be punished.
Higher than the heavens
We cannot comprehend the fullness of the mind of God. This difference in power and glory was captured in the words of a prophet. God does reach out to us because He knows our weaknesses. He makes Himself available, but we are the ones who need to ponder His majesty. His thoughts and His ways exceed anything we can dream of, since His thoughts are higher than our thoughts as the heavens above the earth (Isaiah 55:8-9 Isaiah 55:8-9 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
American King James Version×).
Psalm 139 ought to make us sit up and take notice. It tells us that God knows our intentions and the thoughts in our heads. He knows when we sit down or when we stand up. Even husbands and wives are not that well acquainted with one another. The concept of husband and wife is used by God to show how closely we need to be bound to Him. Everything we think, say and do in life ought to be directed towards learning of His thoughts and ways—and working toward the gift of eternal life God offers.
One of the wonderful character traits God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ possess is that they never break a promise—and They promised that They would never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8 Deuteronomy 31:8And the LORD, he it is that does go before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you: fear not, neither be dismayed.
American King James Version×). Sin cuts us off from God, but He provided a Savior for mankind. Even though God may step back for a little while when we need to learn some lessons about how to properly serve and love Him, He never forgets His people. He will never betray those who follow Jesus’ example and are truly repentant when they sin. He will never betray a friend.
One of the first teachings Jesus gave as He began His ministry was to show us that we are to become like the Father (Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×). That is a tall order, and one of the ways in which we are to become like Him is in the category of not betraying a friend. Betrayal may sometimes be unintentional, and that we might forgive. When it is deliberate and causes us hurt, we all have trouble putting it aside. God is betrayed when a person for whom the blood of Jesus Christ has been shed through baptism turns away from Him. That betrayal cannot be rectified if it is truly a willful act and is not repented of. God speaks strongly when He says that betrayal that comes after one is enlightened will not be forgiven without true repentance. It would amount to Jesus Christ being required to die a second time (Hebrews 6:6 Hebrews 6:6If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
American King James Version×). Amazingly enough, this verse tells us that this act would put Christ to an open shame.
How can that be? The shame would be ours, but it does hurt God when He has granted a person repentance and shed Jesus’ blood for them—only to find out that this person treats that sacrifice so lightly that they simply go back to their old ways and old sins. That is a betrayal of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, because He stood in the gap for us—He paid for our sins. How can we so easily kiss Jesus and call Him friend while we have made arrangements for thirty pieces of silver with God’s enemies? We cannot, we must not.
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