Bible Study Tools / Baptism

Betrayed by a Friend

by Robert Berendt

One of the best known accounts in the Bible is that of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus Christ. Jesus was destined to suffer and die and there is a prophecy that He would be betrayed (John 17:12). Judas planned ahead of time that he would go to the priests seeking the 30 silver coins for his deed (Zachariah 11:13, Matthew 26:14, 15). Judas Iscariot was a thief amidst the disciples of Jesus, but only Jesus knew all the details. No doubt it pained Jesus to tell Judas to leave the last supper and do what he was going to do. Perhaps it was more painful because Judas betrayed Him with a kiss of friendship, recognition and brotherhood (Luke 22:48).

Somehow, betrayal by someone who is close to you and whom you trust is far more painful than if an enemy appeared and brought you harm. When we ask what pain is greatest, we can list that of infidelity in marriage among the worst. Infidelity in our relationship with God carries with it a far greater penalty (Hebrews 6:6). Abraham was a friend of God. Jesus called His disciples friends. The Bible tells us that a friend loves at all times.

We humans experience many problems in life, and for that reason, we seek those we can trust to support and stand by us. When we find such a person, we slowly let down our guard and in time there are few areas of life that we will not share. We reveal that which lies deep in our hearts and we also become vulnerable because of the revelation of our weaknesses.

A friend is someone who stands by us in times of weakness or need (Proverbs 17:17). They are there to laugh with us when we are happy and cry with us when we are sad. We may expect danger from various places, but not from a friend. That is why the betrayal of this sort is the worst. Family members are perhaps those we trust the most. Our mate is the one we expect to be closest to until death us do part. Even for criminals, a “stoolie,” “rat,” or betrayer is hated and scorned.

William Shakespeare captured the essence of betrayal in his play Julius Caesar. In the famous scene where his fellow senators stabbed Caesar to death, the final and most unkind cut came from his friend. “Et tu Brute?” said Caesar. It is as though that was the cut that caused his death. In the funeral oratory by Mark Anthony, Shakespeare noted: “that was the unkindest cut of all.” Shakespeare grasped the additional pain that betrayal by a friend brings.

Jesus Christ was sent to this world to die for the sins of mankind. He noted that it is rare that one person would die to save another. His gift was so precious that we do not have words to describe it, nor do we have the ability to fully grasp this gift in our minds. His blood cleanses us from all of our sins.

When we accept His gift at baptism, our sins are forgiven and our names are written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3). Satan and the demons also take note of us - and Satan tries with all of his might to make us break our promises (1 Peter 5:8). One strong example of God’s trust is found in the book of Job. This shows us that we have an enemy - the same adversary God knows. Before all the angels of heaven, God took the risk of making a claim to Satan that no matter what happened in the life of Job, Job would never betray God (Job 2:3, 9). Satan tried and tried, but to no avail. Had Job slipped, God would have been deeply hurt.

It did cause great pain to God when Israel betrayed Him. Israel was the wife God chose. She betrayed Him in that closest of relationships - marriage. That betrayal brought a great anger and wrath from God and He divorced the wife He had betrothed unto Himself (Jeremiah 2:2).

Humans who accept the blood of Jesus Christ and who have their names written in the book before His throne are betrothed to Him. If they break their promise and bring shame to the One who loves them and died for them, they will be cast away eternally. There is no second or third chance for them (Hebrews 6:6). The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Betrayers of that great love and gift deserve punishment.

One of the wonderful character traits God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ possess is that they never break a promise, and they did promise that they would never forsake us (Psalm 37:25). Sin cuts us off from God, but He provided a Savior for mankind. Even though God may turn away for a little while when we need to learn some lessons about how to properly serve and love Him, He never really forgets His people. He will never betray those who follow Jesus’ example. He will never betray a friend.

One of the first teachings Jesus gave as He began His ministry was to show us that we are to become like the Father (Matthew 5:48). One of the ways in which we are to become like Him is in the category of not betraying a friend. Betrayal may sometimes be unintentional and that betrayal we might forgive. When it is deliberate and causes us hurt, we all have trouble putting it aside.

God is betrayed when a person for whom the blood of Jesus Christ has been shed through baptism turns away from God. That betrayal cannot be rectified if it is truly a willful act. God speaks strongly when He says that betrayal that comes after one is enlightened will not be forgiven. It would amount to Jesus Christ dying a second time (Hebrews 6:6).

Amazingly enough, this verse tells us that this act would put God to an open shame. The shame would be ours, but it hurts God when He has granted a person repentance and Jesus’ shed blood for them - only to find out that this person treats that sacrifice so lightly that they simply go back to their old ways and old sins. That is a betrayal seen by all the heavenly angels as well as His adversary. It shames God because Christ stood in the gap for us—Jesus paid for our sins. How could we carelessly sin again after that?

How can we kiss Jesus and call Him friend while we have made arrangements for thirty pieces of silver with God’s enemies? We cannot. We must not.

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