Wednesday Of Holy Week: The Heartbreak of Betrayal


"Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.  When they heard it, they were greatly pleased and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him." - Mark 14:10-11

On Wednesday of Holy Week, according to historic Church tradition, we remember Jesus' betrayal by one of his closest followers, Judas Iscariot. 

Throughout the centuries, people have offered a number of theories as to why Judas betrayed Jesus.  

Some have claimed that he was poisoned by jealousy and greed, which pushed him to do something that he later regretted. Others have claimed that he wanted to force Jesus' hand, to back him into a corner, so to speak, in order to start an armed revolution.  

Still others have asserted that he was part of God's plan, and was simply "doing his duty."  

In fact, the first-century Gnostic Christian text The Gospel of Judas seems to indicate that Judas was the only faithful disciple because he did what Jesus commanded him to do in the end.  (In John 13:7 Jesus does say to Judas, "go and do what you have to do.")

But in the end, none of that really matters.  What remains, after all of the theories, is that Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends--a betrayal that was followed by Peter's denial, and Jesus' abandonment by the rest of his disciples. 

Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan assert that "[Judas'] betrayal is simply the worst example of how those closest to Jesus failed him miserably in Jerusalem."  

In spite of all of this, as he hung on the Cross on Friday afternoon of Holy Week, Jesus cries out to God, interceding on behalf of all those who participated in his suffering, including those who betrayed, denied and abandoned him.  

"Father forgive them," Jesus prayed, "because they don't know what they are doing."  

How do we handle those who have betrayed us?

Think about someone who betrayed you.  Maybe they gossipped about you, undermined you or discredited you behind your back.  Perhaps the betrayal was deep and wounding, hitting you right where you lived and breathed.  

And all the while this person was smiling to your face, pretending to be your friend.  You trusted and loved them, and they repaid your love and trust by turning on you.  

The pain of those kinds of betrayals lingers and creates an angry ache in our hearts, mostly because there is always a part of us that still loves the people who betrayed us.    

On this Wednesday of Holy Week, spend some time praying for your betrayers.  

Ask God to forgive them, and in so doing set both your betrayers and yourself free.  And keep in mind, you may not be able to be reconciled with them.  They could be a toxic person that you don't need in your life.  But you can forgive them.  

They may ever know that you have forgiven them, but you will.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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