Message: In Matthew 26 there was so much betrayal and political manipulation going on many levels as Jesus prepared himself to fulfill the mission he came for. His sacrificial death. While reading the details as they unfolded, I couldn’t help but marvel over the people who believed they had power. Technically, they had all of that power and authority on a human level, but as they exercised their authority and as Jesus even submitted to that authority, they had no idea that the very power they had was given to them by Jesus- the unassuming man they were abusing. They had no idea that as they schemed and plotted against Jesus using all of their earthly power and authority, they were playing right into plan of God. Who was really in control here? As things played out and the pressure was on, it flushed out the true nature of people in both good and bad ways. Judas is most known for his betrayal of Jesus when he sought out the chief priests and asked how much they would give him to hand over Jesus to them. He agreed on 30 pieces of silver which would ultimately haunt him so deeply that he would later take his own life because of the guilt. It seems shocking that one of his own would suddenly flip and betray Jesus, but if you back up and pay attention to the details you will find that Judas was already unfaithful, and it was his greed that pushed him further than probably even he expected. Judas was the disciple who held the money for the group of disciples and small snippets of scripture tell us that he often stole from the money bag while pretending to be in the best interest of Jesus. He opposed the woman who broke her alabaster jar to anoint Jesus by saying that it could have been sold and given to the poor. It all sounded so noble, but his motives were so focused on greed that it distorted his view of not only this woman’s beautiful sacrifice, but of the mission of Jesus. Peter’s betrayal was different. He was close to Jesus, full of passion and loyalty and he never dreamed he would ever betray Jesus. So much so that he actually spoke it out, believing with all of his heart that he was so loyal that he would be willing to die with Jesus if necessary. When the pressure came on and he watched Jesus get hauled away for questioning he knew full well what this meant. I’m speculating here, but his betrayal was most likely not out of social embarrassment, or even selfish or greedy motives, but more likely out of fear that his association with Jesus might land him in the same kind of predicament that Jesus was in. He knew full well what kind of torturous horror was ahead for Jesus because he had lived to see many Roman cross crucifixions. This was not what any of them had anticipated for the man they believed to be Messiah, so although he loved him as his friend, it probably appeared to him that maybe Jesus wasn’t really who they believed he was. Reading these kinds of betrayals I find myself to be like Peter. I see myself as loyal, but somehow can’t imagine that I would ever deny Jesus. I pray with all my heart that it is so, but as painful as it is, I think we all have a little but of Judas in us too. I actually believe that Judas cared about Jesus. This is somewhat evident by his guilt that caused him to hang himself. It was his greed that caused his betrayal. When I think about this it causes me to do a little heart check. We all believe we are faithful and loyal, but what things are in my heart pulling me in other directions? Those things in our hearts are at war with our desire to follow Jesus. We can see how much hold they have when we are faced with the challenge to put those things down, or even in our fight to stay faithful with our prayer and devotional life. What things are pulling us away each day? We would never say we love work or TV more than Jesus, but what wins our time? Fasting can be another checkpoint right? How badly do we want a snack when we are fasting? Do we allow ourselves to give in during those weak moments? How many of those weak moments of giving in does it take before we find ourselves further than we ever expected to be? This is HARD to think about, but the reality is we are always making decisions toward or away from Jesus. This is a daily battle, and we have to remind ourselves that none of us are immune to this kind of betrayal. Lord, please help me in my faithfulness to keep steady and never assume I am immune to being pulled away. Show me the things in my life that are pulling me and help me to keep those desires and those obsessions in check.