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  • Writer's picturePastor Brett

Betrayed (2 of 2)

Mark 14:43-52

            In a paper entitled “Betrayal, a Psychological Analysis” Dr. Stanley Rachman summarized why betrayal hurts so much.  He wrote, “Betrayal is the sense of being harmed by the intentional actions or omissions of a trusted person. The most common forms of betrayal are harmful disclosures of confidential information, disloyalty, infidelity, dishonesty. They can be traumatic and cause considerable distress. The effects of betrayal include shock, loss and grief, morbid pre-occupation, damaged self-esteem, self-doubting, anger. Not infrequently they produce life-altering changes.“

            Last Sunday, in the first part of this series, we looked at the disciples’ desertion and denials as two kinds of betrayal.  Today, we’ll focus on Judas’ act of betrayal, the most infamous in history.  What we’re understanding in these two messages is how Jesus was increasingly isolated, having to face the terrors of the cross all while dealing with the devastating feelings caused by these acts of betrayal.  It is no wonder Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  We need to appreciate His emotional suffering as well as His physical suffering.

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is an example of how God is so powerful, even evil deeds advance His plan.

1. Judas executed his plan. (43-46)

            Judas led a “riot squad” to arrest Jesus. (43)  With him was A CROWD OF MEN, specified elsewhere as a mix of Roman soldiers and temple guards.  This was, quite likely, a rare moment of joint operations.  There may’ve been civilians mixed in, but they were all these men were, in one way or another, recruited by the Jewish clergy.  Mark went into some detail to list them all, making sure we know the conspiracy included all of them.

            They were ARMED WITH SWORD AND CLUBS, close combat weapons.  These men were prepared to mix it up with rioters.  After all, they hoped to arrest Jesus secretly, but even Judas couldn’t guarantee that Jesus would be alone when they arrived.  Crowds typically materialized around Jesus.

            Judas singled out Jesus with a kiss. (44-46)  This was their PREARRANGED SIGNAL.  It was made because in the dark and in the heat of the moment, it would be easy to become confused and grab the wrong person.  The Jewish clergy would have no fear of mistakenly arresting the wrong man, they would’ve been concerned about Jesus getting away from them as He had in the past.

            Don’t miss the irony of this SIGNAL; in this culture, a KISS and a greeting of “Rabbi” were friendly yet respectful.  What Judas had done to Jesus was neither friendly nor respectful, it was cold-hearted and calculating.  In that culture there were several ways a KISS conveyed respect and affection.  People were kissed on the feet, the hands, or the hem of their garment, each of these implying something slightly different.  To kiss someone on the cheek as Judas did normally implied a close,  personal, and even intimate relationship.  Judas could not have arranged a more despicable way to betray Jesus.  It combines treachery and disrespect with hypocrisy in a perverted inversion of is usual meaning.  Also, in the Greek, Judas’ embrace and kiss were a prolonged action.  He deliberately held on to Jesus until the soldiers would be close enough to grab him.

            The SIGNAL worked.  V. 46 shows the soldiers quickly got to Jesus and arrested Him.  Just before Judas and the CROWD arrived, Jesus said, “The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (14:41c)  This was literally fulfilled.  Though they had Jesus in hand, I believe another reason they brought so many men along is that they’d hoped to arrest His disciples too.  Jesus was prepared to make sure that didn’t happen.

2. Jesus saved His disciples. (47-52)

            One of them (Peter) got the disciples involved in a fracas and might’ve got them arrested too. (47)  Jesus acted to distract the soldiers, allowing the disciples to make their escape.

            There is a complicated history of swords and the disciples.

- A sword was a symbol of Jesus’ mission - Matthew 10:34 - [Jesus said] “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

- Looking ahead to a troubled future after His arrest, Jesus advised his disciples to equip themselves for travel, including swords - Luke 22:35-38 - Then Jesus asked them,  “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?”

            “No,” they replied.

            “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag.  And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!  For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’  Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”

            “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”

            “That’s enough,” he said.

- In Luke 22:49, immediately after Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, this happened: When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!”

- Without waiting for an answer, John 18:10-11 tells us Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.  But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”

- Jesus confronted Peter, saying, “Put away your sword. Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

            The point is that Peter’s rash action put the Eleven in jeopardy.  Jesus intended to allow Himself to be arrested, but He did not intend for His disciples to be taken.  Peter’s swordplay made them more of a threat.  Jesus acted quickly to quell that threat by getting Peter to put away the sword, by healing the injured man, and by confronting the crowd of soldiers who’d come to arrest them, though not all these steps are recorded in any one of the gospels.

            Jesus confronted the CROWD in vs. 48-49.  Jesus took control of the chaotic, dangerous situation by confronting Judas and the soldiers.  He accused them of acting like He was a DANGEROUS REVOLUTIONARY when that was clearly not the truth.  In His statements, Jesus corrected their false assumptions, set current events in the light of biblical prophecy, and for a few moments, took everyone’s attention off Peter and the other ten, so they could get away.

            Jesus did not raise an army, did not counsel His followers to revolt against Rome, had never incited anyone to riot.  Jesus had not behaved covertly,

; His ministry was very public.  He’d been in the temple several times and they didn’t arrest Him there, why all this cloak and dagger stuff tonight?  The fact that they came in such numbers and armed to the teeth was plainly inappropriate.  Ironically, in 11:17 Jesus accused the Jewish clergy of turning the temple into a DEN OF THIEVES, now they were acting like THIEVES.  The openness and transparency of His actions stood in contrast to the sneaky, covert way they came around to arrest Him.

            The key truth but the one statement that probably no one there understood at that time, was this: “BUT THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING TO FULFILL WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT ME.”  That was the same point He’d made to His disciples earlier that evening.

            Jesus’ disciples avoided arrest. (50-52)  His last statement somehow unfroze the Eleven and got them to run away.  Perhaps it reminded them Jesus had predicted they would be SCATTERED.

            Mark alone tells of a person, not one of the Eleven, as her was FOLLOWING BEHIND them, who was so frightened, so intent on escape, that even though a soldier grabbed him to arrest him, HE SLIPPED OUT OF HIS SHIRT AND RAN AWAY NAKED.  This is such an odd detail it has given rise to a lot of speculation about who the naked disciple might be.  One commentator even speculated the guy wasn’t even one of the disciples, but a neighbor who’d got out of bed to see what the commotion was about.  That explains why he was underdressed for a cold night and why he didn’t mind leaving his SHIRT behind.  If his identity were important, we’d have been told it.  What is important is that his actions were desperate and he portrays the understandable panic of the disciples to get away.

            Yes, what the Eleven did was cowardly.  They DESERTED Jesus, no excuses justify that behavior.  However, there are two other things that are just as true.

            As we saw last week in 14:27, when Jesus predicted they would desert Him, He also said their desertion was predicted by Scripture.  Though they acted in self-preservation, their actions were foreseen by God and announced by His prophet Zechariah.  Jesus re-emphasized this point in v. 49 when He said everything was happening to fulfill Scripture.

            Also, by fleeing they preserved their lives.  Resisting the CROWD of soldiers on that night would result only in arrest, injury, or death.  Their role was to be witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection, so their important work was three days hence, not that evening.  As bodyguards they would’ve been useless, and witnesses, they were without equal.

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is an example of how God is so powerful, even evil deeds advance His plan.

            Jesus’ method of recovery from the effects of betrayal was to rise from the dead.  Most of us will have to take a more earthbound approach when dealing with the aftereffects of betrayal.  In that vein, the website Mindwell Psychology suggests a place to start.

            “1. Acknowledge what happened. It’s important to be honest with yourself about what happened. Denying what occurred will only make it harder to heal in the long run.

            “2. Feel your feelings. Don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend they don’t exist. It’s okay to feel angry, hurt, and upset. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of trust and innocence.

            “3. Reach out for support. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what happened. Or consider talking to a therapist who can help you work through your feelings and start rebuilding trust again.”

            As worldly advice goes, that’s a good start.  Spiritually, however, we need to follow Jesus’ teaching.  He said, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

            When we’ve been hurt, Jesus directs us to do two things.

            1. Refocus our attention.  We need to stop obsessing about the one who hurt us turn our eyes upon God.  We need to take a “big picture” view of our circumstance and trust that God will more than compensate us for our suffering on earth when we are joined with Him in heaven. 

            2. We need to identify with God’s people who lived in history.  We can be comforted to know they suffered and prevailed over their suffering by faith and obedience to God.

            In these ways we bring spiritual healing to bear, mending our broken hearts.  God is faithful and He will do it.



            Rachman S. Betrayal: a psychological analysis. Behav Res Ther. 2010 Apr;48(4):304-11. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.12.002. Epub 2009 Dec 24. PMID: 20035927.

            John MacArthur, One Perfect Life, 2012, pp. 433-436.

            Darrell L. Bock, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 11, The Gospel of Mark, 2005, pp. 535-536.

            Betrayal recovery information retrieved from on 15 March 2024.

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