"Judas' Betrayal" by Caravaggio
When our daughter, Carol, was 14, she had a good friend in California. They had met on a Teen Mission trip. Her friend wanted her to come for a visit in California. She even bought Carol a plane ticket.
Arriving at the airport early that morning, Carol and I sat in the airport waiting for the time for the aircraft to load. Then, she realized she had lost her ticket.
We went to the airline clerk to ask what needed to be done. She curled her lips in a frown.
“Nothing,” she said, “you can’t get on the plane without a ticket.”
Then she smiled, “However, what’s your name?” Carol told her and she grinned, “Someone found your ticket and turned it in to us.”
All of us have gotten ready for a trip or extreme effort only to have something bad happen along the way. But few of us have confronted the type of betrayal that Jesus faced on his journey to our redemption.
The scriptures tell us that on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus understood that one of his disciples would turn against him, turning him over to the authorities.
Jesus even knew the person was Judas. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt for Jesus to have one of his closest friends turn him in to be killed.
After Judas had left the seder celebration, Jesus had prayed for the disciples and The Church. Then he took his disciples to a garden.
Judas knew where the garden was because Jesus and his followers went there often. Judas brought soldiers and guards to the garden along with the Jewish leaders.
They had lights and weapons.
Jesus asked, “Who are you looking for?”
"The Scourging" by Caravaggio
When the temple guards told him, Jesus said, “I am he.”
The guards and Temple leaders fell to the ground.
Simon pulled out a sword and cut off the ear of one of the men. Rebuking Peter, Jesus healed the ear.
The soldiers arrested Jesus and took him away.
Jesus had 12 close friends. As was the custom of the day, they lived with him and learned from him. They heard God speak through him. They had come to understand that this man was truly God — the Messiah — their long-awaited deliverer.
Yet, one of them was so evil that he brought the Temple leaders to Jesus so that they could kill him.
There are going to be people in our lives who are going to hurt us. Friendship is risky. People will turn against us. One study says that we can only have 35 friends at one time in our lives. Of that 35 there will be 10 to 12 who will share a close relationship with us.
But does your friendship extend to Jesus? Do you consider yourself one of Jesus’ closest friends? If he were living in your town, would you be one of the 12? Could you give up everything to follow him?
Each of us has a responsibility to love Jesus with all our hearts and minds. I cherish the fact that the apostle used the greatest in fashioning Christ’s church never met Jesus when the Savior was living on earth — Paul.
They never shook hands.
It wasn’t Paul’s privilege for them to touch heads as Paul opened the sacred scrolls and Jesus explained the meaning of a passage in the plain language of the people.
Paul wasn’t present that last, holy night when the 12 men shared their last meal.
"Paul in Prison" by Rembrandt
Yet, Paul had an intimate relationship with Jesus. From Paul’s writings, we know that he comprehended the heartbeat of this Savior. He felt the guiding hand of the Jewish Messiah as Paul traveled into distant lands. He was embraced by the comforting arms of his Lord as he sat in prison.
Judas was a friend who betrayed Jesus. However, Paul’s life teaches us that we can have an intimate, loving relationship with the Friend, Jesus.
And Jesus will help us to remain loyal to him because he loves us more than we could ever imagine.