Holy Wednesday

Psalm 55, 2 Samuel 16:15–17:10, John 13:21-32

Betrayal. It’s not that we expect our enemies or adversaries to “play” fair, but our friends? Co-workers? Family?

It’s hard. It hurts. We often feel absolutely powerless in the midst of it. Then we feel angry. All very human.

The psalmist (probably not David, but maybe) goes through the woes of life. Things are not going well for the psalmist. The dark pit of despair, sorrow, and anguish. Those who have lost a very dear loved one and those that suffer with severe depression (or other similar conditions) know this place far too well. The human part of us flees for shelter. For many it is anger. For others it can be many other things, with many of them being unhealthy. Sadly, when caught in the pit, and feeling powerless, these hurting people hurt those they can, not because they want to, but because of a perverse need to. This is not to call them evil, but to call it what it is, a sign of a fallen world, filled with sin.

When Absalom overthrow’s his father, David, two of his father’s counselors come to him. Hushai deceitfully tells Absalom that he (Hushai) serves the king, whoever the king is. This is interesting as this should be exactly the words of Ahithophel, for this is the heart of Ahithophel. He seeks to advise the king, whoever the king is. Both are betrayers on the surface. One betrays the son to help the father (the rightful ruler) regain the throne. The other cares little, it seems, for who is on the throne, as long as he has power and influence over the one who sits on the throne. Sometimes, when there is a role reversal (like being de-throned), it can seem betrayal when a person keeps their position in the new power structure (like Ahithophel). To that person it may not seem betrayal, but the right thing, such as supporting the organization, and not the person. Often, betrayal is not straightforward.

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was not straightforward. From a Wesleyan perspective, Judas always had a choice. He made the wrong wrong one. Is this where we say, “thank you, God, for Judas’ betrayal?” Sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Yet, Judas’ betrayal seemed to be a key ingredient to the cross. Half a year’s wages to betray a friend? If asked, how many of you would look at your paycheck and say, “sure, I’ll betray a friend for half of a year’s pay.” None of us (hopefully). Yet, sadly, we betray each other for far less.

Rumors, pride, envy, greed can all lead to betrayal, if they are not outright betrayal. What about that lie (white or not)? Is that betrayal? How about that thing you did that nobody knows about? Is that betrayal? When we look at Judas, we had better be sure we don’t say, “I would have never betrayed my friend like that.” Sure. Maybe. Take out the “…like that,” and rethink your response.

1) Judas’ betrayal seems so easy to see, yet we won’t see our betrayal’s of others. Is this another case of judging others?

2) We often justify betrayal based on, “the bigger picture” or “protecting” someone. Does that really make it okay to betray others?

3) If we evaluate our behaviors, betrayal is something we try to avoid acknowledging. Why do you think that is?