“Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!…. (John 13:38).
Jesus walked a painful road towards His death and resurrection. I wonder if some of His greatest pain came from being betrayed by those who He was closest to. Two men, Judas and Peter completely betray Jesus after walking with Him for three years.
Some of us have felt betrayed by others in life. People we thought we could trust. People we thought had our backs. If we could be honest, we’ve probably been that person to someone too.
What makes us and others so capable of betrayal? In the cases of Judas and Peter, it was fear and power. Judas, a zealot (a religious sect in Judaism that wanted to overthrow Rome) wished to see Jesus rise up as a warrior like Messiah and fight against the Roman government.
Some scholars believe that Judas betrayed Jesus with the hopes that it would motivate Jesus to fight back and start an uprising. The kind of uprising the Zealots were looking for to overthrow the political prowess of the Roman government. I’m not sure if this was actually the case, but if there is validity to this argument, Judas was driven to betray Jesus because of his lust for power. He used Jesus as a tool for His own selfish motivations.
If we could be quite honest, we’ve done this too, using people to get what we want. Sadly, our hearts long for power more than they do for love. Our selfish motivations, led by fear, and the hopes of getting what we want, end up hurting others along the way. The only way to be a different kind of person is to be led by a different kind of heart. What Judas really needed was the love of God directing His heart. Without God’s love directing us, we’re sure to be led by our own vanity and our longing to be a powerful person.
Peter, on the other hand, was led by fear. His fear caused Him to completely turn His back on Jesus. Fear made him do the unthinkable and our fear does the same for us. Fear is really rooted in control. People who cannot give God control will leave in fear. I’ve been that kind of person, directed by fear and held captive to it. Peter feared losing his life. Truth is, whenever we follow Jesus into difficult circumstances we can trust that we are safe in the hands of Christ. Even if we lose our lives, there is great gain in the next life.
Until we live in humility, with new hearts, surrendered to the love of God we will keep betraying the people God puts in our path. We’ll use them, sometimes unknowingly, as a tool to get what we want, increase our power or soothe our own worried, anxious hearts.
Lord, forgive us. We hurt people so often. We live in fear. We love power. We need your grace. Help us to live in humility, considering the needs of others better than our own. Lord, let our greatest desire not be for our own gain, but for the betterment of your kingdom. Let it increase in our hearts as we live with lives surrendered to you, in Jesus name, Amen.