The Ultimate Failure of Love



October 18, 2020

John 13:21-27a

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.


“Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

Why do you think Jesus said this to his disciples? Did he think Judas might change his mind? Did he want each of the disciples to search his own soul? Did he just want to put everyone on notice that things were about to go bad?

“One of you is going to betray me.”

The biblical meaning of betrayal is something like, “to be handed over to the authorities.” We see the word back in Matthew 5 when Jesus said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison” (v. 25).

To be handed over to the judge or the court means to be betrayed. It means to be abandoned. In Matthew 5 we see an instance of being betrayed by an adversary or an enemy. Jesus seems to say that can be expected so be prepared to settle with them to avoid this outcome.

It’s when betrayal comes at the hand of a friend that it is so painful. Betrayal is the ultimate breach of relationship and the most devastating failure of love. While the betrayer may be forgiven, they may never get over it. If you’ve ever betrayed someone, you know what I mean. While the victim of betrayal may get over it, the pain never goes away. If you’ve suffered betrayal, you know of what I mean.

While Jesus holds endless grace for both the betrayer and the betrayed, the consequences of betrayal never end.

Some time when we are together, you can ask me how I know.


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who submitted himself to betrayal, enduring its pain, taking it to the cross, and leaving it behind in the grave. Have mercy on us who have betrayed and who have been betrayed. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.


1. Have you ever betrayed another person? (We aren’t talking about garden-variety disloyalty here.)

2. Have you ever been betrayed by another person?

3. Betrayal, on either end, is indeed a cross to bear. Are you ready to allow Jesus to bear it with and for you?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt


Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.


  1. I’d ask about what you did but then you’d probably want to know about mine! I can still see the pain I caused even after 10 years! I think of Nathan speaking bluntly to David, “You are that man!” We all have a little bit of Judas in us. Thank you, Jesus for taking it to the cross.

  2. While I personally cannot identify with either the role of betrayer or the betrayed; I can attest to the scars it leaves on those who have been betrayed by a close friend. It does indeed leave lasting pain, It does make it hard to trust again. I’m sure it does affect one’s spiritual life.

  3. Before this day is done, I just wanted to testify and give God glory for his gracious and merciful love and kindness to me. I’ve lived through betrayal as both a betrayer and as one who has been betrayed. It’s such a soul wrecking experience that would have surely led me into a pattern of inevitable death after death after death. But God being rich in mercy, saved this sinner and gives me life in Jesus day by day.