There are few things that hurt the heart more than betrayal from a friend. In fact in Middle Eastern culture at a special meal the host will give a piece of bread to the person seated next to them to signifiy that this is their very best friend. One wonders if when Jesus did this for Jesus what was meant by it. But Judas betrayed him. And now it part of the Christian liturgy:
“On the night he was betrayed Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples…” (1 Cor 11:23).
But while Judas betrayed him, none of the other disciples can stand proud either. All of them fell away. Peter disowned Jesus and the others took to flight (Mk 14:27-31). But when Jesus spoke to them of their falling away, there’s immediately the hope of renewed relationship and restoration, “I will go ahead of you into Galilee” (v. 28).
Peter vehemently declared he would not fall away. As did the others. They were about to learn the hard way that “pride cometh before a fall” (Prov 16:18).
The betrayal of Jesus, the disowning of Jesus, and the absence of the disciples in Jesus’ darkest hour were horrific violations of the sacredness of their love for him. All of them came to the realization of what they had done. But their responses were very different.
Judas hung himself.
Peter repented and went out and never again looked back.
We may not be in positions where we outrightly disown Jesus or betray him, but there are times when we do so in other ways. Betrayal and rejection of Jesus can look like allowing deceit into our hearts, allowing the security of money to trump our trust, to drift into sins we justify. And when that happens there’s often a time where we, like the prodigal son, “come to our senses.” But there are two ways to respond.
And they truly are a matter of life or death.