Bob Tamasy: Betrayal - The Game In Which No One Wins

  • Monday, June 10, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy

Have you ever been betrayed – or at least felt like you had been? We’ve probably experienced this at one time or another, and perhaps even been guilty of it ourselves.

Betrayal comes in many forms. It might be a trusted friend reneging on a promise or revealing something shared in confidence. A colleague at work ‘throwing you under the bus’ when something goes awry, rather than shouldering the blame.

Even greater forms of betrayal might include parents divorcing, violating their unspoken commitment to provide a stable, safe home for their children. A spouse’s infidelity, shattering the vows of faithfulness made years before. A prominent religious leader, revered by many, entangled in terrible scandal.

The realm of politics seems a particular hotbed for betrayal, with allegiances both forged and destroyed by expedience and personal ambition. But this is hardly new. A classic example: Roman dictator Julius Caesar and his back-stabbing buddy, Brutus. As William Shakespeare wrote, “Et tu, Brute?”

No matter who or how, the pain of being betrayed can be intense – and long-lasting. Partly because acts of betrayal usually are perpetrated by someone close. We could think of many examples, but none surpass that of Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 closest followers. He was highly trusted, given responsibility for the little band’s treasury. But apparently that wasn’t enough. After objecting to a woman lavishly anointing Jesus with very expensive perfume, Judas “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 30 silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over” (Matthew 26:6-16).

Can you imagine? Having been in immediate proximity with Jesus for the better part of three years, enjoying His friendship, watching Him and hearing His teachings, and yet being willing to betray Him for 30 silver coins? This heinous act led to Jesus’ crucifixion not long afterward. And overwhelmed with remorse, Judas took his own life by hanging.

Thinking about Judas Iscariot, we might be quick to reason, ‘Well, I could never do something like that!’ Are you sure?

Because in the biblical accounts, Judas Iscariot wasn’t the only betrayer. In the garden of Gethsemane, after Jesus was arrested by Roman officials and the religious leaders, we read, “Then the disciples deserted Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56).

There was more betrayal to come. Two of the disciples, John and Peter, decided to follow the procession to the mock trial at a distance. Peter, standing in a courtyard near enough to observe the proceedings, three times emphatically denied knowing Jesus or being one of His followers. After the third denial that he punctuated with expletives, “Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:69-75).

The good news is that later, after His resurrection, Jesus restored the repentant Peter by asking him to affirm – three times – his love for Him. The apostle never again betrayed his Lord, becoming a pillar of the early Church and being martyred for his bold and devoted service.

Imagine the strong, impulsive, proud Peter blubbering like a baby upon confronting his own cowardly betrayal? If this stalwart follower of Christ could turn his back on Him, what makes us think we couldn’t do the same?

Years ago, poet Luci Shaw composed a brief poem called “Judas, Peter” that poignantly describes to this sobering reality:

“because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me”?

As 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns us, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” In one way or another, we’ve likely all betrayed the Lord, whether by what we said or did, or by what we chose not to say or do.

However, as the poem reminds us, God’s grace is always greater than our betrayal – if we come to Him in repentance. This is why 1 John 1:9 assures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Even better, while we might be tempted to betray our Savior and Lord, He has promised never to betray us. “…because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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