Holy Week: Wednesday: When Loyalty Fails

When the opposition to a leader gets stronger, team members are forced to consider their position. Will I stay loyal to this leader, no matter what happens? Do I think my leader is making wise choices or finally 'lost the plot'. Does the way my leader and friend is going actually further our cause or hinder it?

The gospels are mostly silent on why Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, which leaves room for speculative interpretation. Judas may, in his own mind, have had the best of intentions for his action. Like so may other religious and political figures, perhaps he did what he thought was 'the right thing to do' and only later was appalled by the dreadful consequences of his action.

Whatever the reason, Judas Iscariot decided to assist the religious authorities to arrest Jesus by night. They promised him 30 pieces of silver in payment - and yes, he did collect it. At the Last Supper, Jesus knew who was planning to betray him in that way and lovingly treated him with special favour at the meal.

To be betrayed by an enemy is hard enough. To be betrayed by a friend is particularly painful.
"It is not enemies who taunt me -
I could bear that:
It is not adversaries who deal insolently with me -
I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal, my companion,
my familiar friend, with whom I kept pleasant company;
we walked in the house of God with the throng."
Psalm 55: 12-14 NRSV

At that last meal Jesus shared with his friends all of them faced the uncomfortable truth that anyone of them could have betrayed Jesus. When Jesus told them that one of them would betray him,

"The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking." John 13:22 It's unfair to heap all the blame on Judas. As I mentioned in 'Plotting', a few hours later Peter betrayed Jesus by denying he knew him and most of the inner circle betrayed him by deserting him. Although 'Judas' has become a bi-word for betrayal, "Judas was not the first or last person to betray Jesus, merely the most famous." (Philip Yancey)

It could have been anyone then.

It could be anyone now - including me.

Here's the story of when Jesus identifies his betrayer:

"After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. 
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once." 
John 13: 21 - 32 (NRSV)