Betrayal

By Ross Engel

The band of brothers reclined at the table. Their conversation was animated and loud. Laughter and smiles, joy in the midst of this Holy night of celebration. The Passover had come and there was much to rejoice in! So many things had happened recently, so there was much to talk about. Their dead friend had been raised. A blind man healed. Demons had been driven out. A parade of palm branches and Hosannas had just been experienced. Yes, there was much to revel in. Curiously enough though, the night’s feast began with their Master washing all their feet like a humble servant. Yes, there was so much to talk about this night.

The Master sat in the midst of the men He called friends and brothers, smiling to Himself as He heard a half a dozen conversations going on. He breathed in the smell of the wine, freshly poured into four cups. Each cup with its own significant toast and these gathered brothers knew the significance of each cup. Tonight though, this ancient toast would find its fulfillment.

I will take you out..

I will save you..

I will redeem you..

I will take you as a nation..

To fulfill this, a betrayal would have to take place. In order to save, redeem, claim a nation, and take a people out of bondage and slavery, one from this band of brothers, would have to betray the beloved Master. And the Master would lay down His life.

A question. An admission. “Is it I Lord?”

For a moment, the joy filling the room was replaced with silence, fear, and questioning doubt. Accusatory glances around the table, the band of brothers wondering, which one of these men could no longer be trusted?

Out of great love, even for this one who would betray Him that very night, the Master did not name His betrayer. Judas departs from the presence of those who called him brother, and betrays the Lord of Life into the hands of sinners and into the mouth of death. But this was not humanity’s first betrayal of the Lord of Life. Betrayal had already begun in another garden, with two bites from a piece of fruit. The Lord of Life betrayed for death and evil, a choice made so long ago. A choice that humanity continues to make as they turn away from the Lord and chase after the fading glories of this world, rejecting their Creator and worshipping the creation instead.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” – John 1:10-11

The reproaches of God against His people in the Chief Service of Good Friday powerfully capture the reality of mankind’s continued betrayal of their Lord and God.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘What have I done to you, O My people, and wherein have I offended you? Answer Me. For I have raised you up out of the prison house of sin and death, and you have delivered up your Redeemer to be scourged. For I have redeemed you from the house of bondage, and you have nailed your Savior to the cross. O My people.”

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Though betrayed into the hands of sinners and into the mouth of death, the Lord shows His great love for His people by laying down His life to redeem them. The Passover toasts celebrated on Maundy Thursday are fulfilled in Jesus.

I will take you out..

I will save you..

I will redeem you..

I will take you as a nation..

His death on the cross would fulfill the very words of this Passover feast toast. For in laying down His life for His friends, His betrayers, and all creation, Jesus takes us out of the prison house of sin and death. He saves us from God’s righteous wrath. He redeems creation from the mouth of death and the grip of the old evil foe. And He calls to Himself a people, a nation, those who are indeed, even now, His band of brothers and sisters. By His dying, He has destroyed sin and by His rising, He has destroyed death and the grave and has opened the gates of heaven to all believers.

“We adore You, O Lord, and we praise and glorify Your holy resurrection. For behold, by the wood of Your cross joy has come into all the world.”

This night is different. For in the midst of betrayal and desertion, death and condemnation, forgiveness, life, and salvation springs forth. The cup of salvation has been fulfilled. Rejoice! For God has delivered us.