The Bitter Beginning of Betrayal
Wednesday - March 31st
Devotionals for Passion Week 2021
Scripture to Read Today: Matthew 26:3-16
From then on, Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Today we continue daily devotionals around the final days of the first coming of Jesus Christ to earth. Each devotional this week will include a text of Scripture to read (simply click on the link at the top of this page to read Matthew 26:3-16 for today's devotional) and some thoughts I have written to help us in our walk with Christ based on the Scripture for the day.
We will focus on the passages that record what our Savior did each day of the final week leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection. Feel free to share these devotionals with others via social media or email. God may use them to bless others, too!
After spending time teaching in the Temple courts Tuesday and Wednesday of the final week of His earthly ministry, Jesus had dinner in the home of Simon the leper. Simon was a wealthy man whom scholars believe Jesus had healed from leprosy. He lived in Bethany, the same town in which Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived. It was just a few miles outside of Jerusalem. Jesus stayed with the three siblings each night of Passion Week.
Lazarus, who had recently been raised from the dead by Jesus, sat with Christ and others at Simon's table. Out of gratitude for what Jesus had done, Mary (Lazarus' sister) came and anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. Her extravagant expression of love caused the disciples to question her actions. According to the account in John 12, Judas specifically expressed concern that the perfume was so valuable it should have been sold, and the proceeds used to help the poor.
Jesus declared that what she had done was a good thing and pointed to his impending death. John's account tells us that Judas was the treasurer among the disciples and would steal from their financial resources. His objections were more about what he could gain than they were about how the poor could have been helped. Mary's actions and Jesus' response seemed to be the final straw for Judas. He had other priorities and a different agenda than Jesus had. He no longer wanted to follow after Christ.
Matthew tells us that on that Wednesday, the religious ruling council of the Jews - the Sanhedrin, gathered to plan how they would kill Jesus. Judas showed up at the council and committed to betraying Jesus. Sadly, Matthew concludes the story of Wednesday's events by simply saying, "From then on, Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over" (Matthew 26:16).
It seems unthinkable that someone could spend three years traveling with Jesus, hearing his messages, witnessing His miracles, and observing the character of Christ up close and still betray Him. Judas ended up doing just that within about 48 hours of his first meeting with the Sanhedrin. The night after Judas' sellout to the council, Jesus would declare to His disciples that one of them would betray Him. After washing their feet (including Judas' feet), Jesus identified Judas as the betrayer and told him to go and do what he planned to do.
Eventually, with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas betrayed Jesus. After doing so, Judas, overcome by guilt, committed suicide.
For me, Wednesday's events are bitter-sweet. The sweet expression of love from Mary mirrors my own heart and love for Christ. The bitter beginning of betrayal by Judas still weighs heavy on my heart. It would be easy to blame Judas and move on. But, many of us in little ways grieve the Lord with our unfaithfulness. We can allow our own selfish desires and agendas to plant seeds in our hearts only to see the fruit of such seeds emerge later.
Take a few moments to examine your faithfulness to the Lord. What areas do you seek to hide from Him? What have you allowed to take greater priority in your life than Jesus? Judas' sad story should serve as a warning to us that it is possible to walk with Jesus daily and still slide into unfaithfulness. Recommit yourself to follow Jesus faithfully!
Nothing good comes from getting our eyes off Jesus and focusing on our own agendas and priorities!