As I have been rereading the Easter story, I have been struck anew by one word today: betrayed.
Jesus was betrayed to His death.
That sobering fact is not a simple one, but rather a way more complex than I have ever pondered and mulled over before.
Jesus was betrayed.
By one of His closes friends, one of the 12 He held most dear and invested countless moments, stories, and relationship building with over the three years they were together.
Judas was not a stranger, but a friend Jesus knew well.
That betrayal must have hurt Jesus deeply.
All of us have had someone betray us, but here is the clincher: Judas didn’t get that they were going to kill Jesus. He thought that Jesus would reveal Himself in power if His hand was forced, and the Kingdom of Heaven would come earlier to Israel.
I believe it is the grief of his misbelief mixed with his genuine love for Jesus that led him to His suicide. Judas had no idea of what was to come, but Jesus did. And He knew it would hurt more than just His heart.
Yet he was not the only disciple to betray Jesus. All the disciples scattered when Jesus was arrested. Even Peter denied Jesus three times when asked if he was one of His disciples. Like sheep without a shepherd, they didn’t know what to do when their leader was abruptly taken from them.
And all this occurred right after the first communion, where Jesus revealed His love to those closest to Him. Those He had lived & traveled with, those who had seen His miracles, and broken bread with, turned and ran at the first sign of major conflict.
Then you have the Jews. In particular, those in religious authority over Israel. Those who spoke as God’s intermediaries to the people.
The very ones who knew the written Word inside & out missed the Living Word walking in their midst.
And because He didn’t fit with how they felt a rabbi or prophet should, they too betrayed Jesus by asking for His death.
Not only did they betray their countryman, their brother in the faith out to Rome, they betrayed their God in the most personal way possible – to His face, and to the death.
Pilate, the overseer in Jerusalem as assigned by the occupying Rome, knew Jesus was who He said He was. And in refusing to stand up for what was right, he allowed a crowd to sway him to release a dangerous convict, a group of religious leaders to convict an innocent man, and betrayed Jesus to a horrible death he knew He didn’t deserve.
Betrayed by His loved ones.
Betrayed by the people He loved.
Betrayed by the one with the power to stop it all.
I believe part of why Jesus poured out His heart in prayer so fervently to His Abba in Gethsemane was because He knew the anguish He was about to feel in His heart over the layers of betrayal about to take place.
But there is one more level of betrayal to this story.
Because almost the whole world has heard of this Jesus, and what He did for everyone.
And when people refuse to take in the nail pieced outstretched hand offered as a free gift to all who accept it?
We become one of the betrayers.
If Jesus is who He says He is, then our refusal to accept it places us somewhere in the Easter story we would rather not be….one of the crowd who started out singing “Hosanna,” then began to chant “Crucify Him.”
This Easter, I am giving up keeping silent about Jesus. For I don’t want to deny the One I love when asked about who I follow.
I don’t want to break His heart by not acknowledging all he has done for me.
I don’t want to be a betrayer, or deny-er in God’s story anymore.
And because of what Jesus did on that cross, I am free not to do so anymore! I am His, and He is mine.
His sacrifice makes me whole again. I don’t need ever head down the path of betrayal if I walk with Him to the cross.