The Betrayal and Rejection

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me”
                                                    —Ps. 41:9 (cf. Jn. 13:18).


Jesus came to His own people and they did not receive Him (Jn. 1:11). Jesus was hated, rejected, and persecuted (Is. 53:3; Jn. 15:18). His friends abandoned Him (Ps. 88:8, 18; Matt. 26:56), even after making a pledge of undying loyalty. Yet, even while He Himself was being betrayed He protected His friends (Jn. 18:7-8)

Jesus, as Hebrews says, can sympathize with us (Heb. 4:15). He knows what it is like to experience betrayal of the worst kind.

Jesus was troubled in His spirit because one of His dear friends would betray Him. And it’s no wonder that He was troubled. Have you ever been hurt by a close friend? It hurts.

Yet Jesus was betrayed, as the Scriptures said He would be (Jn. 13:18).

Judas, Jesus’ “familiar friend” (Ps. 55:13), betrayed Him with a kiss[1] (Matt. 26:48-49). Jesus used to walk with Judas in the very same garden in which He was betrayed (Jn.18:2-3). Jesus had also recently shared bread with Judas.[2]

Jesus felt the blow of a backstabber but His pain would be far worse than any knife could inflict.

When Jesus was betrayed and arrested there was a “detachment of soldiers” with Judas (Jn. 18:12) carrying torches and weapons. Jesus, however, had access to “twelve legions of angels”[3] (Matt. 26:53). But He called upon known of them.

And even when Peter struck a man with a sword and cut of his ear (Matt. 26:51; Jn. 18:10), Jesus did not commend him. Instead, Jesus healed the man’s ear (Lk. 22:51).

One last amazing thing to consider…

When the captors came to Jesus, He said to them, “Who is it you want?” (Jn. 18:4). They replied, “Jesus of Nazareth” (v. 5). Jesus said, “I AM HE;”[4] and when Jesus said, “I AM HE,” they drew back and fell to the ground (v. 6-7). 

Roman soldiers fell to the ground at Jesus’ response?… Why?

Because when Jesus said “I AM HE,” He was connecting back to Exodus 3:14 when the LORD revealed His name to Moses. 

Jesus was showing His power and showing that He is part of the Divinity Identity (see Ex. 3:14).[5] As Jesus said before: “before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn. 8:58).[6]

Jesus was in the beginning with God, and is God (Jn. 1:1-3). The world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him (Jn. 1:10; Ps. 33:6; Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:15-20). 

And so we see that the One who spoke the world into being and can make seasoned soldiers cower by mere His words, is betrayed and arrested.

O’ the profound beauty and mystery! Jesus betrayed for us who so often betray Him…


  • Have you been ashamed of Jesus recently? One of the scariest verses in all of Scripture, I believe, is Matthew 10:32-33. It says: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”


Father, we thank You for Your Son who was rejected so that we might be welcomed. And we are sorry for the ways that we ourselves betray You. Please forgive us and help us by Your Spirit to live for You. Amen.


[1] A kiss (kataphilo) was a common greeting then, like it still is in some cultures.

[2] In Matthew’s Gospel (Matt. 26:14), Judas is called “‘one of the twelve’ to highlight the irony and tragedy of treachery” (Bloomberg, Matthew, 397). 

[3] “At five to six thousand soldiers per legion, twelve legions could literally amount to seventy-two thousand angels. The number underlines the magnitude of the power available to Jesus which he declines to utilize” (Bloomberg, Matthew, 399).

[4] When Jesus said I am he (ego eimi), as He did else where (Jn. 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5-6), He is linking back to Exodus 3:14. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the LXX, translates “I AM WHO I AM” from Exodus 4:14 as ego eimi ho on. And in Isaiah 43:25 and 51:12 ego eimi functions as the divine name on its own (See Colin G. Kruse, John, 140).

[5] See Richard Bauckman, Jesus and the God of Israel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008), 19. Bauckham gives a few passages where we can see this. Here is a sampling: Is. 57:15 see esp. 9:2-7: “a son… his name will be called… Mighty God” see also Dan. 7:13-14: “one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (cf. Davidic promises in 2 Sam. 7; 1 Chron. 17). He also gives Paul’s many LORD texts with Jesus as referent see pp. 186-90.

[6] People understood what Jesus said to be blasphemy—making Himself one with the LORD—and so they “picked up stones to throw at Him” in order to stone Him to death (Jn. 8:59). However, Jesus, in another move that shows His divinity “hid himself and went out of the temple.”

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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