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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Is It I Lord?

Have you ever been betrayed? As I’ve traveled the streets of America, I’ve met countless broken people who have been betrayed by others. As they try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, they struggle to find the meaning behind what happened to them. As happened to our Savior Jesus, their betrayer had turned them over for little more than a few paltry pieces of silver.

I met Jim and his young son James in New Mexico. James managed the shop that was putting a new tire on poor limping Happy. As James stood behind the counter taking my tire order, I noticed the haggard expression of what I call the “ICU Waiting Room Look.”

After turning the keys over to Jim, I sat down to watch cartoons with little James. “I don’t like this show,” I complained to James.

“Why not?” He asked.

“The adults and children are always fighting. In my family, we love each other,” I told him. “We try to be nice to each other.”

“Not in mine,” James said glumly as he shared their tale of betrayal. His mother had left them to move in with another man. Since James’ older brothers and sisters were from a previous marriage, she had taken everyone but him. James and Jim had packed up and moved to New Mexico to start their lives over and be a little closer to family.

I’m sorry James,” I said. “Grownups do confusing things sometimes.”

He nodded. Changing the subject, I started telling him about the wonderful church I had visited that morning. “My church sometimes helps me with things I don’t understand,” I told him.

“I miss my church,” 8-year-old James confessed. “Daddy hasn’t found us one here.”

I immediately went to the counter to talk to Jim. He was surprised at his son’s need. “I can’t make his mother come home but I guess I could take him back to church,” he admitted. “Thanks. I guess I could also get him back into Karate. Maybe it’s time to get things back to normal.”

I had visited a church that morning that turned out to be near their home. “I had actually been thinking about visiting there,” Jim gasped in surprise when I mentioned the church. We both knew God had orchestrated our time together. I left knowing that God was going to heal James and Jim’s brokenness if they let Him.

As people betrayed by co-workers, employers, church members, pastors, spouses, friends, and others share their stories with me, I am thankful that Jesus shared His experiences with betrayal so I can share it with others. We learn from Jesus’ experience that God’s plans work through everything, including brutal betrayal.

Morning Meditation

Read Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:9-13.

Matt 24:9-13

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. NIV

Let Jesus’ bleak warning wash over you.

• Let the hope in Jesus’ words strengthen you.

Morning Prayer

Take time to remember those who have betrayed you.

• Pray for your betrayers.

• Thank Jesus for warning you that people would betray you.

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study

It is said that if you are in a room of twenty-one people, seven will love you, seven won’t have an opinion, and seven won’t like you at all. Certainly, this generalization won’t be true in every or even most situations but its point is well taken. We can’t control how others see or feel about us and we often have no idea of the schemes that might be going on in their minds.

Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples. He had traveled with Jesus, listening to His sermons and watching His miracles. Judas was trusted enough to be the disciple that handled everyone’s money. Read his words of betrayal in Matthew 26:14-16.

Matt 26:14-16

Then one of the Twelve-the one called Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. NIV

What motivated Judas?

• What price did Judas put on Jesus?

Jesus knew of the betrayal and warned all of them. Here we see a glimpse of the humanity and insecurity of each disciple as they ask, “Surely not I, Lord?”

Read Jesus’ warning and their response in Matthew 26:21-24.

Matt 26:21-24
And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." NIV

How did the disciples feel about the upcoming betrayal?
• Why do you think they asked, “Surely not I, Lord?”
• What warning does Jesus give about the betrayer?

Read Judas’ hypocritical words in Matthew 26:25.

Matt 26:25

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"

Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." NIV

How do you think Judas felt as Jesus revealed what He knew of Judas?

We’ve already read about Jesus’ agonizing time in the garden in a previous devotion and we know that Jesus’ heart was broken. Read again His words in Matthew 26:45-46.

Matt 26:45-46

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" NIV

What had already happened to Jesus?

• What does Jesus call Judas?

Imagine the disciple’s alarm as they witnessed Judas leading a mob. Read Matthew 26:47-49.

Matt 26:47-49
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.NIV

Who sent the mob?
• How did Judas identify Jesus?

The book of Luke gives us some additional insight about Judas. Read Luke 22:2-6.

Luke 22:2-6
Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. NIV

Who was behind Judas’ actions?

• How did the Chief Priests feel about Judas’ betrayal?

• Do you think Judas could have rebuked Satan’s temptation?

Like most that succumb to Satan’s temptation, Judas expected to be able to enjoy his reward for the betrayal. Read Matthew 27:3-5.

Matt 27:3-5
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."

"What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. NIV

How did Judas feel after he betrayed Jesus?
• What did Judas try to do?
• What did Judas end up doing with the money?
• Do you think Judas could have been saved if He had turned to Jesus instead of killing himself?

The story of Judas’ betrayal reminds us of the pitfalls of giving in to Satan’s temptation. It also reminds those betrayed that betrayers suffer far worse than those they betray. It proves the point that guilt and remorse for sin are not enough without the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. Instead of turning to Jesus and living in the grace of a Savior who forgives all, Judas chose to let the guilt of his transgressions destroy him. Without grace, the burdens of our lives are too much to bear.


When I was about 12 years old, I had my first experience with betrayal. My best friend, Christie, lived behind me. From the time we were small, we rushed outside every morning, looking for each other. There was a fence dividing our property. We climbed the fence so often that Daddy built us steps over the fence so we could more easily travel back and forth.

On school mornings, Christie tossed her books into my yard, scampered over the fence and knocked on my door so we could walk to Ruth N. Upson Elementary School together. After school, we spent our afternoons drawing chalk Hop Scotch patterns on the hot pavement of my cement driveway or sitting on my red brick porch playing Jacks. On weekends, we had sleepovers in the green shuttered white dollhouse that Daddy built behind our house. We giggled as we whispered our secrets.

When we entered 7th grade, Christie walked up one day and announced, “You are no longer my best friend. I have a new friend who is better than you. I plan to spend my time with her from now on.”

"What did I do wrong?” I cried. Christie ignored my brokenhearted pleas as she walked off. Never again did she climb the fence.

I went home and cried as my mother held me. “I don’t know what I did wrong,” I sobbed.

“Honey,” Mama consoled. “It doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong. Sometimes people just let you down. You’ll find another best friend.”

Of course, Mama was right. Little by little, my heart healed as new friends entered my life. Daddy took down the fence steps that were a painful reminder of the lost friendship. Eventually Christie moved way from neighborhood and school and I lost touch with her.

God eventually sent Nancy Edwards, who continues to be my closest friend today. Nancy and I double dated in high school and went to our Junior and Senior Prom together with the men who later became our husbands. I was her Maid of Honor at her wedding and she was my Matron of Honor. She had I have shared our lives, joys, and sorrows. Nancy challenges me when I’m on the wrong track, encourages me when I’m discouraged, travels with me when I want to play, and listens when I want to vent. We’ve shared this precious sisterhood for most of our lives.

A couple of years back, Nancy and I were reminiscing about our school days. For some reason, I told her the story of Christie. Nancy and I knew each other in Junior High School but didn’t become close until High School. After she heard the story, Nancy went to laughing. “Cheryle, I was the friend that Christie dumped you for. We hung out for about a couple of years until she dumped me for another ‘best friend.’ I also wondered what I had done wrong.”

The same girl had betrayed Nancy and me. Christie was the betrayer but like the disciples, in our insecurities, Nancy and I had asked, “Is it I Lord?” Our betrayal was painful at the time but it taught us a lesson about true friendship. When true friendship came along, we recognized it and held on to it. After Christie betrayed Nancy, Nancy prayed for a best friend who would love her through everything. While our friendship has had its rocky moments, it has survived the test of time and trials, always becoming stronger. We wonder if poor Christie is still going through life, betraying one potential friend after another.

If someone has betrayed you today, understand that like Judas, they are one who will suffer the most. Pray for them.

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