By Jackie Morfesis

When we think of our Lord and Savior being betrayed, our minds often go to the infamous disciple, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him with a kiss. Who sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, blood money. Yet is Judas truly the only one who has betrayed our Lord in such an unfathomable way? Is he the only one who is a traitor to our Lord?

If we believe the answer is yes, then we must think again. Every single time we sin against God, we betray our Lord. Every single time we break His Holy commandments, we sin against God and betray our Lord. Jesus said: “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

As always, I write when I am inspired, when I am moved by the Holy Spirit. Our lives are the tapestry that weaves our experiences which in turn forms our faith testimony. On Christmas day, I received a text message from a “friend.” I put the word friend in quotations because it was clear to me upon receipt of this Christmas message that this person was no more a friend than Judas was a friend to our Lord.

The message sent to me mocked Jesus. The message was such an awful mocking of my Lord that I will not repeat its image nor its words. Suffice it to say, it celebrated the persecution of Jesus by the High Priests as fodder for a joke.

Of course, I told the sender that she just ridiculed my Lord and my Savior. Her response: “My Jesus can take a joke.” I do not recall Jesus finding humor in His mocking, ridicule, persecution, nor crucifixion. This was a moment that once again crystallized for me how very differently we understand the faith walk, what it means to be a Christian, and what being a Christian calls us to be in the world in our relationship to the Lord and to each other.

We know that we are called to “turn the other cheek” and to “forgive seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21). We also know that we are told to move away from evil. In fact, we are told more than once to move away from sin and evil. “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:15). How many times do we allow, accept, and condone our Lord being betrayed and denied because it is just too inconvenient to disagree? To not speak up for our Lord? To not stand on God’s Holy Word? Too many times to count.

Betraying our Lord like Judas Iscariot and denying our Lord like the apostle Peter, becomes so commonplace that we no longer notice. We do not have to wait until the cock crows three times to have our wake-up call like Peter. “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Matthew 26:34). Nor do we have to have the extreme remorse, guilt, that leads us to take our own life as Judas did on the tree in the very field that was purchased with his blood money.

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-10).

The betrayal and denial of our Lord may not nor ever be so dramatic, but rest assured it is as deadly and sinful with eternal consequences. Jesus said: “But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:9). Again, betraying and denying our Lord is a seamless habit so commonplace that no one seems to notice anymore.

We betray our Lord when we smile in the face of others and stab them in the back. When we slander, gossip, and say all manner of evil against our brothers and sisters. When our tongues are filled with lies and deceit instead of the truth. When we shoot daggers through the air causing spiritual attack against innocents. When we work to destroy relationships and plant seeds of poison in the hearts of others. We know that God abhors the liar. It is an abomination to Him.

I cannot count the number of times I have been betrayed with a kiss. I have been betrayed with a kiss by those closest to me as is usually the case. One in particular who spent a lifetime trying to undermine my life, my joy, my dreams, my hopes, and my future. Yet everything is revealed, and her false and perfected façade and persona has fallen physically to reveal the truth of her spiritual brokenness. “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). Another man who wove webs of lies, deceit, abuse, and cruelty spent years speaking slander and false words over my life has had his tongue silenced. “Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous” (Psalm 31:18).

We know that our Lord came to give us life and a future. Anyone who aims to derail, destroy, or take that from us is not for us but against us. “The thief comes only to kill, and to steal, and to destroy, I come that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

We betray and deny our Lord when we are afraid to speak up for fear of public condemnation and for fear of being ostracized. Is there any greater shame than being abandoned? Then being shunned? The primal fear and shame associated with being ostracized is so powerful and ancient that Socrates himself chose to drink the hemlock and die rather than be alive and exiled from his community and students. How many times have we stayed silent even within our own churches for fear of being judged? If we cannot even stand for God in His Holy house, then we are truly broken in spirit.

We betray our Lord when as leaders of our church, we succumb to political correctness but not the foundation of Orthodoxy, our doctrines, our teachings, and the meaning and holiness of our sacraments. We betray our Lord when we speak hopelessness not hope over the lives of Orthodox faithful as is frequently done by our own Archbishop Elpidophoros. When we see the world through secular not spiritual eyes.

When we live in fear not faith. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). When we do not trust that our communion is indeed the blood and body of Christ and that it is for our healing not harm. Again, Archbishop Elpidophoros advocated the use of multiple spoons for communion at the height of the COVID pandemic. We betray our Lord when we have a personal agenda but not a Godly agenda. These acts wound our churches and are attacks upon our Lord and Savior. Rest assured; we will be held accountable.

It is written that when we pass into eternity the day of Judgment will come. On that day, Jesus will know us or not know us. If He knows us it is because we knew Him on this earth. We served Him in the faces of the hungry, the homeless, the orphaned, and the imprisoned. We knew Him because we did not betray Him like Judas Iscariot. We knew Him because we did not sell Him for blood money. It is also written that we are not saved by works but by faith and the grace of God. “Salvation is not by works, so that no man can boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

When we see our lives being changed, even dramatically, let us not lose faith. The falling away is not because we are being punished. The falling away is because God is preparing us for something amazing yet unseen. He is lightening our load and our burden so that we are prepared for the assignment on the horizon. We are anointed for the appointment. We must be ready.

Jesus said to “shake the dust off your feet and move on.” “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:1-6).

We are known by the company we keep. If someone betrays us, spiritually attacks us, ridicules our Lord and our God, and works to undermine your life and the plan and purpose for which God has called you, forgive them with God’s grace, pray for them, and move on. If they are repentant, then they are ready to let God work in their lives. If they choose to stay disobedient to God and His commandments, then continue to pray for them but there is no shame nor sin in personally protecting ourselves from further harm.

There is much work to be done. God is working in each of our lives, but only if we allow Him. Judas Iscariot is not the only one who betrayed our Lord. Nor is the Apostle Peter the only one who denied our Lord. Our Lord is being betrayed and denied every single day by the sinfulness of man. This is the battle, the true warfare. Let us fight the good fight with courage, faith, love, and hope. Always hope.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely!
    Yes we all fall short of not defending our Lord Christ when we stay silent.
    I remember when President Bush Jr.
    publicly stood up for Jesus,
    from that moment on he was demonized nonstop by the evil,
    rabid leftist media.

    But more horrific is, a disgraceful choice for Archbishop of America,
    Elpidoforos – the biggest Judas of the Orthodox Church!
    The fish stinks from the head and that’s shameful Bartholomew…
    but his time is going to come as
    Jackie said:
    all sin done in the dark shall be shouted from the rooftops in the day.

  2. “How many times do we allow, accept, and condone our Lord being betrayed and denied because it is just too inconvenient to disagree? To not speak up for our Lord? To not stand on God’s Holy Word? Too many times to count.”

    Amen and thank you for words of wisdom.

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