"I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me." (Matthew 26:21-23)

Jesus spoke this at the dinner attended by Jesus and his disciples - often referred to as the 'last supper.' Jesus is foretelling the fact that Judas will be telling the Jewish high priest and his guards where Jesus will be praying shortly after, in order to arrest him.

Why is this statement by Jesus important? And does Jesus really use the word "betray" here? And why would Jesus have a close disciple - one of his close twelve - who would betray him?

Actually, the Greek word translated to "betray" is παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi). This word does not actually mean to "betray" specifically. Rather, it means, according to the lexicon, "to give into the hands (of another)" but also, "by betrayal to cause one to be taken."

So the word itself doesn't mean betrayal. But the act of handing someone over into the hands of another can be seen as an act of betrayal.

Certainly one can interpret this as a betrayal, simply because the high priest was going to turn Jesus over to the Romans.

And certainly while Jesus knew this, it is questionable that Judas knew that his telling the high priest where Jesus would be would lead to Jesus' subsequent persecution.

After all, Jesus was also referred to by his students and others as 'rabbi.' So why would Judas believe the Jewish high priest would have Jesus persecuted?

There is evidence, in fact, that Jesus encouraged or instructed Judas to do this. Should Judas have disobeyed Jesus if Jesus instructed it?

The fact that Jesus not only allowed it, but instructed it, is confirmed by Jesus' statement to Judas:
"What you are about to do, do quickly." (John 13:27)
It is also evidenced in Matthew that Judas was shocked to find that the high priest turned Jesus over to the Romans to be persecuted:
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. (Matt. 27:3-5)
We must also ask, why, if Jesus knew that he was to be handed over to the high priest and subsequently persecuted, did Jesus not only encourage and instruct Judas to do this "quickly" - why did Jesus not leave once he understood what would happen to him? Why did Jesus not avoid the arrest? Why did he wait there - where Judas would lead the high priest's guards?

Because Jesus understood this was part of his service to the Supreme Being. He understood this to be God's will:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
and
"... I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)

Betrayal

Surrounding the statements above in Matthew, Jesus' disciples including Judas, one by one denied that they would betray him:
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?" (Matt. 26:23)
Then Jesus clearly identified who would betray him as indicated above.

So why was this betrayal such a surprise to Jesus' other disciples?

Because traditionally, disciples of a spiritual teacher do not betray their teacher. One who betrays the teacher who is representing God is betraying God. This is the worst type of offense, one that will leave the betrayer in a horrible spiritual condition.

While we might find Judas' actions repulsive, today we find many who portray themselves as Christians betraying Jesus. How is this?

Jesus defined this betrayal:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)
Why is this betrayal?

Instead of following Jesus' teachings and his instructions, they attempt to utilize Jesus' crucifixion for their own self-centered purposes. They want to use Jesus' murder to clean and purify their sins. Thus, they focus upon the murder of Jesus' body, together with his suffering. They portray his suffering body upon the cross in their churches and around their necks. Some will even imitate Jesus' suffering with gruesome reenactments.

How appalling to focus upon the torture of God's beloved representative. They even portray the using of Jesus' suffering for their purification rituals as "bathing in the blood of Jesus." How monstrous is this? To be mesmerized by the murder of a teacher's body - one who sacrificed his life for his teachings - for ones own cleansing?

Jesus did not die for our sins. He died (actually only his body died) for his teachings and in the service of his beloved Supreme Being. He was murdered because he refused to retract his teachings. He refused to run away from his teachings. He stood by his teachings - which came from God - to the very end:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
Meanwhile ecclesiastical sectarian teachers virtually ignore those very teachings that Jesus suffered for, while they focus instead on washing their sins in Jesus' blood - so they can feel less guilty.

They are, in fact, crucifying Jesus again as they focus upon the murder of his body for their own purposes. They are thus also betraying Jesus, just as did Judas, the Jewish high priests, and those Romans who beat Jesus and gruesomely murdered his body.

A few years ago, a controversial producer made a movie about Jesus' suffering and persecution. While the author of this commentary did not see it, the reviews discussed how horrific the torture and murder of Jesus was portrayed, and how the realism was so distasteful. But this very portrayal is invited by the focus ecclesiastical sectarian teachers have put upon this moment in Jesus' life.

All the while, his teachings are being virtually ignored.

We can thank the organizers of the early church and Constantine, the Roman emperor who subsequently organized the Roman Catholic church that violently ruled over early Christianity with an iron fist for over a thousand years. Are we supposed to believe Constantine just because he said he had a vision of the cross? And what about all the beheadings he was known for? Were they Christian beheadings?

This concept of having a vision of Jesus or the cross has in fact, created so many rascal teachers over the centuries - all of whom claim that they had a vision of Jesus, and this supposed vision gives them the right to teach their brand of sectarianism. This concept - of having a vision - has resulted in many misinterpretations of Jesus' teachings, by so many - as we have detailed in these writings.

This heritage of supposedly having a vision of Jesus has also moved many sentimental parishioners to imagine their own vision of Jesus - in order to keep up with those who portray their own "personal savior" events as glorious visions. While we do not deny the possibility that Jesus can appear to people, and to some he may have truly appeared, we can certainly authenticate that it was not Jesus - but their own imagination at work - when they begin to teach and practice a philosophy diametrically opposed to Jesus' teachings after having their supposed vision.

Meanwhile, Jesus' teachings are very clear: Love God and serve God. This was the "salvation" that Jesus taught. Jesus said nothing about using his crucifixion to cleanse our sins.

To be forgiven our sins, Jesus simply instructed us to pray and ask God to forgive our sins:
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.' " (Luke 11:4)
This is because God can forgive our sins at will. God doesn't need to become a man and die on the cross for our sins, as these ecclesiastical sectarians teach. God is the Supreme Controller.

The essence and focus of Jesus' teachings are quite simple:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)


 (For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)