“Daytime Friends and Nighttime Lovers” was a #1 hit in 1977 for country singer Kenny Rogers. It’s about betrayal – a love affair between a woman with her husband’s best friend. Betrayal is a hard pill to swallow because it involves deception from an unexpected source – not an enemy but a friend. Unfortunately, most people have tasted the bitterness of betrayal at some point in their lives. Have you? 

If it helps, Jesus tasted the bitterness of betrayal. Luke 22:1-6 records the events that led to the biggest betrayal in human history, where Judas Iscariot turned his back on the Son of God. One of His closest companions made a deal with the devil and conspired with the religious leaders to get Jesus crucified.

Here’s the story from the Bible:

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. (Luke 22:1-6)

Why did Judas betray Jesus?

1- Judas betrayed Jesus because of others.

The religious leaders wanted Jesus killed, not just silenced. He exposed their hypocrisy and challenged their lucrative Temple business. But they had a problem – the people loved Jesus. So, they needed to arrest Him quietly and needed witness against Him. Judas became that help. Judas betrayed Jesus because he had the help of others. People act evil because they follow the evil in others.

Psychologist Ruth Berenda carried out an interesting experiment with teenagers. They brought groups of 10 teens into a room for a test. Each group was instructed to raise their hands when the teacher pointed to the longest of line on 3 separate charts. What one person didn’t know was that the other nine had been instructed to vote for the 2ndlongest line. The result was that the one voted for the wrong line 75% of the time. Berenda’s conclusion was that most people would rather be part of the crowd than right.

Application: Be careful of the negative influence of others.

2- Judas betrayed Jesus because of Satan.

Satan entered Judas. He gives him the idea to betray Jesus. The second time Satan entered Judas was at the Last Supper to have courage to carry out the betrayal. This was not a lower demon, but Satan himself. Satan himself is behind the evil in our life and in the world.

Satan’s best trick is to convince us that he does not exist. I remember when we went to Virginia Beach on vacation and my daughter’s decided they wanted to ride a Parasail pulled by a boat. They said what caused them the most fear was not how high they were but when they were up in the air they could see the sea animals, maybe including sharks, right where we were swimming. I think most of us are unaware that Satan wants to destroy us.

Application: Beware of Satan’s influence in your world.

3 – Judas betrayed Jesus because of money.

The particular passion of Judas that Satan used was greed, the love of money. He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This was probably Judas’ besetting sin. Money was something he was passionate about and probably became good at. He was the treasurer of the disciples and became angry when money wasn’t handled wisely. Satan often tempts in areas of strength and passion. He usually does not make them act contrary to their nature, but leads them to act of their proper disposition.

Greed is common evil motivator. Americans were asked what they would do for $10 million. 25% = abandon family, abandon church. 23% prostitute for over a week,16% give up American citizenship, leave spouse, 7% kill stranger, 3% give up children for adoption.

Application: Be careful of the wrong influence of money.

4 – Judas betrayed Jesus because of his sin nature.

All of these reasons (others, Satan, money) would be nothing unless Judas had opened the door. This is the part that should bother all of us. Every person that has a sinful nature has the potential to sin at the lowest level – even betrayal. All it takes is to open the door to temptation. There is no handle on the outside of the door of the human heart. It must be opened from within.

Drew Anderson from Arizona said he and his wife were shopping at a mall. A shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress walked by and his eyes followed her. Without looking up from the item she was looking at his wife simply asked, “Was it worth the trouble you’re in?” You can’t keep temptation from walking by. But you can keep your eyes from looking.

Application: Pray not to enter into temptation.

Was Judas saved? Although Judas was chosen to be one of the Twelve, all scriptural evidence points to the fact that he never believed Jesus to be God. He even may not have been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah (as Judas understood it). Unlike the other disciples that called Jesus “Lord,” Judas never used this title for Jesus and instead called him “Rabbi,” which acknowledged Jesus as nothing more than a teacher. While other disciples at times made great professions of faith and loyalty, Judas never did so and appears to have remained silent.

So, what does this tell us? Someone can play the part of a hypocrite so well that no one but Jesus Himself knows that he’s a fraud and pretender. Judas was just like the rest of the disciples. Except he never turned to Jesus. But he had his chances.

Some are given multiple chances to turn to Christ. Maybe this is really your first opportunity. I encourage you to turn to Jesus today. You do not know how many opportunities you have left. This may be your last chance to turn to Jesus.

What about those of us who are already Christians? Though Judas’ betrayal may be the worst of all time, I betray Jesus when I choose pleasure, money or power over following Jesus. I can betray Jesus with my actions, words or thoughts with my selfish ambition and hypocritical attitude. If I am perfectly honest, there’s a little bit of Judas in me. And if you’re honest, there’s a little bit of the betrayer in your heart. Confess your sin and come to Jesus for forgiveness.