Thanks for joining me today again. As we come upon Easter, it feels fitting for me to reflect on some of the themes around the death and crucifixion of Jesus. I would like to zoom in on a character that has received extended treatment and analysis over the centuries: Judas. Judas’ role in the arrest of Jesus was prophesied in the book of Psalms, yet it could have been fulfilled by any one of the disciples. Unfortunately, it was Judas Iscariot who made himself available, descending into eternal damnation for thirty pieces of silver.
Have you ever been betrayed? Usually it would be by someone who knows you closely. The person likely gave up important information that could be used against you, or switched loyalties in a very unexpected manner, leaving you vulnerable and exposed. The damage might have been little or huge, but betrayal always feels terrible. So, if you have ever been betrayed, do you know why they did it? Many people betray their allies for revenge over an unforgiven offence. Others just do it for selfish gain such as power, money, or fame. In Judas’ case, we know he did it for the money.
There might also be people who betrayed others because they were blackmailed, bullied, or manipulated. Some secret or failure of theirs could have been weaponized against them so they could give up their loyalty to someone else. While this does not make them innocent (they could choose to face the consequences of their actions), this category of betrayers are most miserable because they get no satisfaction or gain from the betrayal. Eventually, all betrayal leads to regret, or no? Or do all betrayers get betrayed by someone else? In Judas’ case, the weight of his guilt led him to take his own life. I bet he never imagined Jesus would be killed, let alone crucified like a thief.
The story of Peter’s denial of Jesus is often told alongside that of Judas’ betrayal, and some parallels drawn to encourage believers to embrace repentance. But I wonder how close they are. While Peter acted in an instant to selfishly protect himself from whatever they would do to Jesus, Judas was set on a slippery path of no return once he aligned with his Master’s enemies to give him up. I’m not sure the outcome he expected, but things went out of hand as they always do. His greed stole a great spiritual inheritance from him.
Is there a way to predict or prevent coming betrayal? Or knowing who might betray you? I don’t know. All I can offer is Jesus’ counsel that you should “watch and pray”. In his case, he knew what was coming for him, and he was ready for it. Greed, lust and many unchecked excesses are behavioral indicators of many potential betrayers. Yet moderate men too have had their loyalties tested, and some caved when the right price was named. In the words of a former Nigerian Governor and current Minister: “May our loyalty never be tested”.
I’ll see you again tomorrow, have a blessed Good Friday, and enjoy the extended holiday weekend!
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