One Living Hope

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The King Betrayed – Mark 14:43-52

Introduction

There is nothing more tragic in life than being betrayed- to be betrayed is when someone who is close to you, someone you trust, whose your friend, your supporter, gives an appearance of standing with you, turns against you, -they shake your hand with one hand and stab you in the back with the other and in this act of dishonesty, you are deeply wounded, it’s devastating.

 

Now, I’m not sure how many you have seen the movie Braveheart, it is my favorite movie of all time, now if you haven’t seen it, I might spoil it for you but it tells a story of a Scottish man, William Wallace-played by Mel Gibson, fighting for freedom, for his country from the British. Then there is this other guy named Robert the Bruce- he is actually a Scottish noblemen in the story –who wants freedom for his country but he also wants power and wealth- convinced by his ageing father, he decides to betray Wallace right in the battlefield, right as they were fighting for freedom, he betrays him. So what happens is that Bruce betrays him to get the land, wealth and power, but now after he betrays him; there is this one pivotal scene in the movie between Robert and his father – that gives us a glimpse of the true essence of betrayal.

Robert’s Father says’ – Son, you saved your family, you increased your land. In time you will have all the power in Scotland.

Robert says: Lands, titles, men, power – nothing. I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they don’t I throw them off my land, but those men who bled the ground red at the battlefield, they fought for William Wallace, and he fights for something that I have never had and I took it from him when I betrayed him…and it’s tearing me apart.

Robert’s Father – All men betray. All lose heart.

Roberts responds – I don’t want to lose heart. I want to BELIEVE as he does.

See, you know why betrayal cuts to the heart- it hurts- why? – Because there is something else that you want– that you are actually putting your trust in. Robert the Bruce betrayed William Wallace! Why? Because, Robert wanted something, he believed and he was convinced that wealth, power, land, titles would give him the power that he was always looking for. He was willing to do anything to get it, even if it means to betray his friend, he is going to get it..and it hurts!

 

And the passage that we read, we have Judas and Peter – both of them want something, they believed in something else that they wanted and they were willing to be disloyal towards Christ to go get it. For Judas, I’ll even shake, kiss, and do anything to get what I want. I’ll even look like a follower of Christ. And in the end, it hurts so much that he killed himself. For Peter, I’ll say and do all the right things, will never, ever abandon Jesus, I’ll even die with him, will never, ever deny him, he wants to be true to Jesus but not when it cost his life – and in the end he denies Him, abandons Jesus – that’s why Jesus prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31) that Satan is going to swift you like wheat, but I prayed for you. Why? So that his faith will not fail;

 

See for Judas and Peter, they are not much different. They have misplaced trusts. They put their faith in all the wrong places. One wanted money. The other was just full of himself. It’s not the question of whether they had faith or not- that’s not the question- they had faith but they were putting their faith on something else/someone else, they were building their life on that. That’s why CS Lewis[1] says; “you never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”  Is Jesus the true life that you are looking for? Because nothing else or no one else can bring life to it’s fullest if you truly believe that Jesus can give you significance, meaning, hope, joy, love, happiness that you are looking for. Or are you looking at something else or someone else– misplacing your trust- to give you want you want. That’s why it’s called sin. That’s why sin betrays the truth of the gospel- you are misplacing your trust in something else or someone else. AS we are approaching Easter, the Christian church everywhere is looking intensely at Jesus’ life- his passion, rejection, suffering death and resurrection. Why? Because it is a matter of life and death to us; So, let’s look at how Judas and Peter betrayed the essence of the gospel and how the gospel, in turn, welcomes sinful betrayers like you and I to experience what true faithfulness really looks like -found in a person, who gives us the hope for change and renewal.

First:

I. Judas: Pretentious Faith Betrays the Integrity of the Cross – v. 43-45

 

Judas Iscariot was a guy that we don’t know much about but it is a familiar name, everyone knows who Judas is, no matter what your religion might be, or where you come from, when a person hears of that name, they are sure to raise their eyebrow. It is a name that is synonymous for being called the ‘betrayer’. In many of the Western books, arts, movies and culture[2]  – Judas has become the paradigm of being called the worst “betrayer” in human history so don’t be like him, he’s the worst sinner ever- so he carries a very negative trait. A dark figure! You will never name your kid – “Judas Iscariot” but in the Bible, he was one of the 12 disciples, handpicked by Jesus Himself. Think about that- Jesus chose him after a night of praying[3] to live life with – spending three years with him, was an eyewitness to all what Jesus said and did- he saw how Jesus lived, the miracles he performed, listened to his preaching and teaching, he was there when the demons were cast out, he ate meals with Jesus, he had incredible access to Him- he lived his life with Jesus—and in the end- it was all to rise up against Christ.

 

But as you can see from this chapter (14) alone, for background purposes — Mark is heightening the intensity of what Judas is going to do by droppings hints of who this guy really is. [Mark 14:4, 10-11,18- 21, 41ff]. He had a pretentious faith; all along he lived a life of pretense. This guy had a huge problem when a woman dropped over $25,000 worth of perfume, clearly he didn’t think that was a beautiful thing, thought it was a total waste, it should have been given to the poor and he puts a façade, puts together an act – that’s what John 12 says – he didn’t really care for the poor because he was a thief – he gives off an impression to make others think that he actually cared for the poor. And not only that he went to the chief priests to hand Jesus over for money, as Luke[4] tells us – for 30 pieces of silver, all he wanted – all he really cared for was money, and that was enough to sell Jesus out!

 

So, what we see so far, Judas has been living his life with a mask, concealing himself – appearing to be very generous, caring for the poor and such but all that he was doing was- he was making himself out to be something he’s not—appearing to care the poor but in reality he wanted money. That is ALL he counted on- he counted on money; to give him satisfaction/fulfillment so that he could get a sense of credibility, or a sense of being validated – he valued money more than Christ- and that led him to “participate, as JP[5] says, in the most despicable act of betrayal of the most spectacular sin that has ever committed in the history of the world- the brutal murder of Jesus.”

 

Why was Judas’ betrayal such a despicable act? Because look at the acting that he puts on display –the facade, the masquerading faith, all of his posturing, the hypocrisy, and the false impression- that’s why it’s such a despicable act. Listen: you can minimize sin by being FAKE; when you make yourself out to be something your not- it’s being fake, you are downplaying sin both vertically and horizontally; both in how you relate to God and how you relate to each other– you are just making an impression—and when we don’t admit how sinful we really are, we can turn the truth into our favor– that’s being fake and the effects of that are enormous- vertically- your affection for Christ and what He has done for you will never be valued because you will measure and quantify His worth – for Judas – it was 30 pieces of silver, it was the price for a slave – that’s how he quantified the value of Jesus – that’s how he calculated it –I’ll just value Jesus, I’ll just come to church on a Sunday, go to small group on Monday or Friday, I’ll just put a face on, pretend that everything is fine but all the other days, I’m just going to rely on something or someone else to give me a sense of worth and value.

Then, horizontally, you can try your best to keep up with your appearances, what you look on the outside, by wearing masks or putting make-up on your life by maintaining a certain, respectable, spiritual, kind of image, and as a result, not many people will ever get to know the real you. We can very easily settle for casual relationships, participate in Sunday services and attend small group weekly and you can just pretend your life here at LH – by making an impression, by putting the best status update, best image and that is despicable.

 

There was an article, back in 2007, in the NY Times[6], where a successful, irreplaceable, smart, bright MIT dean of admission resigned from her job – and you know why she resigned – she resigned because has been living a lie – actually for 28-years, she lived a lie – she lied about her educational credential in her resume’ and worked for three decades at MIT. She was well liked, admired, & revered; she even wrote a book (when she was a dean) about how students in colleges shouldn’t aim to be perfect academically but surprisingly, to live a life of integrity. That is what is so shocking- that you can actually live a lie for a long time! That’s why the community of MIT is saddened because “they placed a lot of trust in her.” She was fake! She could make an impression for MIT for 28 years but realized that could no longer hide behind her mask any longer.

 

See we live in a culture that highly values of reducing sin, minimizing your distortion, your flaws, put make up on that flaw, extracting any blemishes[7] and putting forth a well–liked, well-put together kind of image, and make an impression, live a lie that will make you irreplaceable, that will make you look smart. People will want you. But that is not what Bible says- because if we forget/reduce/minimize sin, if we put on a mask and hide behind our sin, if we fail in admitting our sin- if we have failed in admitting that God is no longer in the center of our lives, or failed in admitting that all the things that I have been doing so far is building my identity in money, or job, or our kids, or marriage, or my physical appearance or anything besides God Himself – if we have failed in admitting how sinful we really are- then what happens is that there is a total breakdown, total collapse in our relationship with God Himself-  and as result – with each other. Barbara Brown Taylor, an author says, “The essence of sin is not [JUST][8] the violation of laws…but a wrecked relationship”. What that means is that – you can avoid Jesus as your TRUE Savior of your life by pretending you are a follower of Christ. Sin shipwrecks, ruins your relationship with God. Grace can only become real to you when you actually believe that you are a hell-deserving sinner in need of a Savior. That is when you stop pretending. That is when Grace comes alive.

 

And that is what we see in v. 43-45- Judas came, as one of the 12 followers of Christ- a person who had some sort of relationship with Christ but Mark is letting us know just how deep his treachery[9] really was. He came with a crowd- roughly 200[10] or so men ready to capture one man. It was the night before he got crucified, He was still in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Judas comes with these people, planned, sketched out in his mind exactly how this would happen: Judas was going to single out Jesus by “kissing” him- that is the sign, the signal to which you can go and capture him (v.45). Again, you can see his masquerading affection; outwardly giving the sign of allegiance, affection and loyalty but inwardly- no value for Christ.

 

Notice in v. 45- Judas approaches Jesus at once, it was immediate. He didn’t even hesitate- and he said, Rabbi – teacher – look at Judas here, giving Jesus the title, the respect—the deception, the sugar and honey flowing from his lips, the dishonesty inside his heart- outwardly kisses him. The “verb tense” for the word “kiss” – it’s an intensified verb- it means that the kiss was repeated, fervent, prolonged kiss, it wasn’t just a peck on the cheek, it was a smothering kind of kiss, in loving affection- one that gives a continuous expression of affection. It was long enough that the authorities could easily identify Jesus, to seize him as Judas gives the ultimate act of dishonesty; giving an appearance of affection but in reality showing that there is absolutely no value for Christ, pretending to be a follower of Christ when in reality, he’s not! In some ways, that is what sin looks like – it looks so pleasant at first, sin comes to us like Judas with a kiss with an outstretched hand and flattering words but in reality it is only an appearance, a façade–it’s a lie.

 

See if you are pretending to be a follower of Christ, then Jesus becomes only the means to what you want in life- you really want money, happiness, love, control, and fulfillment in life, significance and respect apart from Christ. Being a pretender is like drinking seawater- you get even more thirstier, it only leaves you wanting more and more, the more you drink of it, the thirstier you become. It’s a lie. It’s sin- it betrays the integrity of the cross. But if you are a real follower of Christ- that’s like drinking fresh water because it quenches your deepest thirst;

 

II. Peter: Self-Preserving Faith Betrays the Heart of the Cross – v. 46-49 & Luke 22:49-51 [John 18: 10-11]

 

After the Oscar-type performance given by Judas by smothering Jesus with fervent kisses, Mark never mentions Judas again in his gospel. The scene quickly changes- in v. 46ff -“they laid their hands on him and seized him”- it actually means they grabbed him with such hostility, it wasn’t a gentle laying on their hands but grabbed him, pushed him, took him by force. While that was happening, Mark notes for us in v. 47 – ”one of those who stood by drew his sword out” but who is this guy? And why do you have a sword in a prayer meeting? The only gospel writer who tells us who this guy is – is (John) 18:10 “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the servant’s ear.”

 

Not only that, Mark leaves us out a very important detail as Luke, the good doctor, informs us in Luke 22:51- after Peter cuts his ear, Jesus, then, tells “no more of this” – he touches and heals the servant of the high priest. Peter impulsively cuts the servant’s ear but Jesus heals it- Peter might be sincere in doing this, had good intention but- that is like an insult to the high priest himself- because in that culture – if you harm the people who you are associated with in any way, you also harmed them too. But what is striking is this: Peter looks just like these chief priests and elders. They look (actions are) the same. There is not much difference between them. But what Jesus does is completely different them; Notice–Jesus touches and heals with His hands while they carry swords in their hands to wound; Jesus moves towards His enemies with His hands while they use their hands to wound their enemy. While self-preservation is in the hands of Peter; self-sacrifice is in the hands of Christ by giving his life for His enemies.

 

Now, when you look at the word “sword”[11] in the Bible – it speaks more than just the ability to kill an enemy, more than just to punish those who are evildoers –so, for example, in Romans 13- it says that the authorities has the power of the sword – what that means is that the swords were not only used to kill or execute people but rather it has the power to protect themselves from their enemies. That is exactly what we see with Peter and the others – each of them had weapons- and “weapons were always carried for protection”[12]

 

That’s why Jesus tells them, in v. 48 – Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?  It means- literally—Am I leading a rebellion like you guys here, do you think of me as a violent robber? I’m not a rebel as if you think that I too will use a sword. NO. That’s not true at all. You really don’t know me or what I am about. I’m not here to preserve my life but rather give away my life as a sacrifice for my enemies.

 

One of my mission professor, Paul Heibert had us read a book called “Incarnational Ministry” basically how do we approach ministry in different contexts and societies, and one of the societies that we had to read was a tribal society[13] – these kind of societies are seen in many countries like China, Africa, India and one of the highest value for a tribal community is self-preservation – basically how can we protect ourselves from those who are different from us– because life, for them, is based on families, kinship-communities, very closed(ly)-knit households. Tribal community is the largest group of humans who believe they are of the same kind of people because they share the same blood; they cannot marry outsiders because outsiders have a different blood, and therefore consider them as enemies.

Peter Chief Priests Jesus
Sword to wound to protect Jesus from death Sword to wound to protect themselves Hands to heal, touch and give away his life

 

Now, for largely an Asian church, like ourselves, one of the biggest dangers that we are facing (or will face) in our church is tribal mindset. Because by nature, we are all tribal people; we love to associate with people who are of the same kind of people. I grew up in a house with that kind of tribal mindset; growing up – the highest value that my family taught me was — it is so important to be with my kind of people, I cannot marry any outsiders – I cannot be friends with anyone who is different from us- my culture & traditions are to be valued to the utmost, its really protecting my tribe from those people who are different from us. That is our default mode- ever since Adam and Eve, we have decided that the only way to preserve ourselves is to be our own saviors, our own masters; how can I protect myself? I have the power to preserve myself so I’m going to draw out my sword. A kind of self-preservation that drifts to self-righteousness- a sense of “right-ness” – If I am right, then you are wrong. I’m the good guy, which makes you the bad guy. I’m the hero, which makes you the villain. With a tribal mindset- everything you do is really serving yourself, to protect yourself, the right to preserve anything and everything you value and trust. It’s more self-serving rather than self-giving.

 

And that tribal mindset is incompatible to the heart of gospel. It betrays the cross. Look how Paul boldly defines it for us in Romans 5:6ff – “while we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” notice, how he is building it up- not only we are weak, we are ungodly. In v.8- God showed his love while we were still sinners…and he defines what sinner is, he builds it up even further, v. 10, notice…for if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by His death…Notice the level ground here- notice who are the true enemies here, notice who are the true bad guys here, notice who are the true villains here- it’s you and I – yet Jesus didn’t come to use the sword against us (he could have, we deserve it, it could have been perfect just (right) to do so) but He came to take the sword into Himself.

 

See for Peter, he takes up the sword because he thought he was the good guy, I gotta protect Jesus from the bad guys- I am not going to let him die[14] – I have the right to use my sword, I have the right to destroy those ‘bad guys’ because I am more deserving of grace than these guys; it’s self-preservation- he was just protecting himself; and what he failed to understand is that Jesus actually takes the place that he(Peter) deserved to be in because the gospel tells us who the real bad guys are, the real enemies- it’s you and I. We are the real bad guys (the real enemies) that Jesus was glad to die for. He gave Himself up, He gave up the power to protect himself by giving his life for his enemies. If your gospel doesn’t lead you to the cross where Jesus died for your sins, then all that you believe life is to be is to preserve your own existence, to protect your wants and desires, your happiness, your fulfillment, it’s self-serving.  Rather, the gospel is the story of God giving Himself away, self-sacrificing, taking the sword, for His enemies. Do you have any idea how upside down inside out kind of life that really is? It changes everything the way we live this life.

 

Think about it:

If you are struggling in your marriage with your spouse- it’s easy to have a tribal, self-serving, self-rightness kind of mindset – a tribal mindset – that “if he or she were more like me, then our marriage would be better”, “why can’t she change to the hopes and dreams of my life” “why can’t I change her or why can’t I change him” or “how dare you criticize me”- all about my rights, my traditions, my values over the other, if he/she hurts or upsets me, my tribal mindset kicks in- pull out that sword- I have the power now but if gospel tells you that a man actually died for His enemy of which I really am, by showing me what love actually looks like, then that means your spouse is not really the biggest problem in your marriage at all rather it’s you! Christian marriage is always “sinners saying I do” –not one being the pure saint and the other being the heathen sinner saying I do.

 

And when you begin to see yourself as the main problem- that’s saving-faith because you are beginning to recognize and accept your total weakness, your total helplessness! That I’m actually the real villain here; the more you see your sin, the more you will see the greatness of your Savior; And as a result, your love and affection will grow and germinate to your spouse, who is so, so different from you, the more you see “CHRIST in each other[15]”, the more you will see hope of glory for each other, and you will desire gospel growth for each other, you’ll be motivated with gospel love as you find the courage to tell the truth and serve with grace. You will realize how messed up you really are, seeing your mistakes and sins in light of the cross, and then your heart begins to soften and gladly desire to out-do each other by serving with grace and truth. Only because He gave Himself away in sacrificial love for true villains like us; That’s the heart of the gospel – where it tells you boldly that “at the cross is where I, indeed…see the light of who I really am and the burden of my heart rolled away”

 

And finally,

III. Gospel: God’s abandonment of His Son is His Unending Loyalty towards us v. 49-52

Let’s read v. 49a-52

What we have is that Jesus is submitting Himself to the authorities by having them arrest him at night. But He’s doing it in a way that lets us know who really is in control by saying, “let the Scriptures be fulfilled” now at the same time, we have the disciples, in v.50, leaving him, fleeing away, leaving him all by Himself, even the young man, in. v51, who was following Him, left Him, everyone deserted Him; Only Him, Alone, Stood in dark! Despite all the talk from the disciples earlier, they said they will die with him, they are not going to run away, they are going to be with him, stand with him to the end…BUT all of them deserted him and fled. And Jesus says, let the Scriptures be fulfilled. Now, the undeniable aspect of this whole episode was that His betrayal, arrest and abandonment was the plan of God. John Calvin said this: Violent and wicked men, even the betrayer himself did not drag Jesus to death but God used these men to carry out His purpose for our lives. There is this bigger reality, a bigger purpose going on with this whole thing – and if we do not get this, we will never really understand what faith, hope and love really is in our Christian life. Jesus says that the Scriptures are fulfilled[16]– All of this was predicted in the OT now fulfilled in the New.

But it is in Isaiah 53 (look) that you can His purpose for our lives —It is Lord God who crushed the Son of God. This is the ultimate betrayal here – it pales in comparison to Judas’ betrayal, the agony’ of His Father’ abandonment was enormous- that’s like a God-sized kick in the stomach – it hurts (‘cause Jesus & Father are One in infinite glory and infinite love) and Jesus finds Himself absolutely alone as He heads to the cross with all spitting, flogging, mocking and piercing all because every sin of ours betrayed the heart of Christ but this was all because of God’s plan and purpose for our lives, of making you be counted as righteous by bearing all of our sins on Him.

 

See, if God did not abandon Jesus, then there is no good news, there is nothing that could save us from our sins – our ultimate end would be destruction–perishing in hell forever. God the Father abandoned His Son so that we would never, ever lose His loyalty towards us. His loyalty is so powerful – powerful than your sin. He is permanently, for all time, forevermore stamping His love for us. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do make God love us less. As Sinclair Ferguson said this: “Jesus was left entirely alone. In what he was about to do no one would stand with him. No one could. He would stand ALONE as Savior because He alone was fit to bear all of sin’s betrayal and God’s judgment in our place.”  Loved one, Jesus is your only Faithful Friend that will cheer, commit, guide you till the very end, there is no shadow of turning with Him, He changes not, His compassions, they fail not – great is His faithfulness, Lord, unto me. That’s the gospel – and our only response is to believe it, to trust it with all of your life obey it, and be affirmed by it.

Let’s pray!

 

[1] A Grief Observed

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Iscariot

[3] Matthew 10; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6

[4] Luke 22 and John 12; 13

[5] http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/judas-iscariot-the-suicide-of-satan-and-the-salvation-of-the-world

[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/27/us/27mit.html?_r=0

[7] http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20516019,00.html

[8] emphasis MINE

[9] RT France, NIGTC Gospel of Mark

[10] DA Carson, Gospel According to John

[11] Greek Lexicon of the New Testament ma¿caira:  Jesus never endorsed his followers to use their swords

[12] RT France, Mark

[13] Paul Hiebert, Incarnational Ministry, p.96

[14] That’s why Jesus tells Peter- “get behind me, you are setting your mind with the things of the world. Matthew 16:23

[15] Colossians 1: 27

[16] [Indebted to John Piper] Matt 21:42 – quoting Psalm 118:22 – rejecting Jesus

John 15:25 – quoting Psalm 35:19 – Jesus is hated

John 13:18 – quoting Psalm 41:9 – Jesus betrayed

Matthew 26:31 – quoting Zechariah 13:7 – Jesus is abandoned

 

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