John 13:21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me." 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples--the one whom Jesus loved--was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" 26 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. 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do."
John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward." 37 Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." 38 Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
No one calls their son Judas.
This name has become synonymous with betrayal. The English dictionary defines a Judas as “One who betrays another under the guise of friendship”. Yet John’s Gospel tells us that there were two betrayers: Judas and Peter. In some ways Peter’s betrayal was worse, because after insisting that he would ‘lay down his life’ for Jesus, he promptly betrayed the friendship by denying any knowledge of Jesus.
This is the poignant pain of the Easter story. Fear causes friend to turn on friend. This is a familiar story: Marcus Brutus betrays his friend Julius Caesar; Benedict Arnold betrays his family and country because he was humiliated by George Washington; or Japan betrays the Allied powers in December 1941 when they attacked the Allied powers at Pearl Harbour.
However, few of us can easily condemn the betrayer – because we know this impulse only too well. Our betrayals cover the range from sharing the secret we should have kept, or failure to speak up for a friend’s reputation - to stealing money kept in trust, or initiating/thinking of a relationship outside of our marriage.
Easter is a time when all our betrayals can come to an end. This becomes an opportunity to put to rest the past hurts and resentments and allow a fresh beginning. Ask yourself where your rebirth is needed – and pray that this can begin in you today.
He comes to save us now:
To serve him is to know
Life's true reward.
May he our lives amend,
All our betrayals end:
Give me your hand, my friend:
JESUS IS LORD!
Fred Pratt Green
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 142.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day