A Story of Betrayal
It was one o’clock in the afternoon on a sunny day in Dallas, Texas when people around the world found out that the President of the United States—John Fitzgerald Kennedy—was dead from a head wound.
November 22, 1963 was a normal campaign-tour Friday as the President and the First Lady were visiting Texas. They were in the Presidential limousine on a short drive from Dallas Love Field to the Dallas Trade Mart, where President Kennedy was to give a speech to over 2,000 guests at a luncheon honoring he and Mrs. Kennedy.
His running mate, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, was by his side during the campaign run but rode behind the Presidential limo and a Secret Service vehicle. Reports have said that Johnson was angry that he was not going to be in the car with the President, but some suspect that it was merely a show. You see, when the President and his entourage came to Texas, Johnson was about to be indicted for high crimes and misdemeanors. The Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, was behind the investigation.
For years, people have suspected that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald was behind his assassination.
Some have suspected that Johnson betrayed President Kennedy knowing that he would benefit from his death by becoming the next President of the United States. If he were President, then the investigation would be suspended; he would be free of any charges of high crimes and misdemeanors at that point.
Of course there are other treacherous culprits that have been named in the betrayal of President Kennedy. For instance, the military industrial complex, the CIA, and the Mafia have been mentioned as possible suspects; others believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the murderous betrayal of the President. Whatever the case may be, someone or a team of people betrayed someone who depended on them to do right.
The Ease of Betrayal
Through history, the greatest betrayer was Judas Iscariot — he saw Jesus’ ministry for three years and knew Him personally. When Judas went to see what the high priests were willing to give him for betraying Jesus, they offered him thirty pieces of silver, or 120 days’ worth of wages. Judas wanted one thing — it was to have money and to control money. John the apostle records that Judas was not concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it (John 12:6).
We don’t know why he desired money or why he stole from the coffers, except for one reason: he was a sinner just like every one of us. Although he walked with Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, even though he saw the miracles that Jesus did, and even though he was counted as one of His disciples —he betrayed Him. It was not a hard thing for Judas to do this because he was already a thief which means he was also a liar during the days of ministry. It was not difficult for him to deny Jesus Christ because he was already denying Him while he was supposedly serving Him and serving with Him. The reason we are able to so easily deny Jesus Christ is because we, too, are sinners just like Judas Iscariot.
The Emptying of Christ
Even though Jesus knew that there was a traitor among the disciples (and I believe He knew who it was all along), He taught them something that Paul the apostle expands in his teachings in Philippians 2:7, 8. Paul says that Jesus Christ “Emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Because Jesus Christ emptied Himself, many would be saved.
We see this teaching of Jesus Christ giving Himself in the Lord’s Supper. We remember what Jesus Christ did on behalf of the entire world. Jesus was showing His disciples that He was giving Himself as an offering for them. He was portraying that He would give Himself to die for them.
Then Jesus Christ took a wine cup and gave thanks for it. He explained to the disciples how this was a picture of the shedding of His blood. Throughout the Old Testament, the sacrificial system showed that there had to be a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. We learn from Hebrews 10:1, 3, 4 that the people had to “Offer continually year by year, the same sacrifices,” because it was merely a reminder of sins year by year. They needed the sacrifice because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. The act of sacrifice, the act of shedding the blood of bulls and goats, was to atone for the sins of the people annually.
However, the writer of Hebrews continues to teach us that “Having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, [Jesus Christ] sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). In other words, as the writer continues in 10:14, “For one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Jesus poured Himself out so that many would believe and have their sins forgiven. His disciples and the others who believe would be sanctified and be saved.
Why did Jesus do this? John 3:16 simply says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
He did it for you. And for me. And for everyone who would believe.
Let us be wary of how easy it is to betray and deny our Savior — not too many days following the first The Lord’s Supper, Peter denied Jesus Christ, even though he believed Him (Matthew 26:31-35). Today, we may hear Jesus Christ’s words and easily fall away in denial of Him by how we live. Let’s be reminded that because Jesus emptied Himself, we are saved today. He willingly gave Himself for us so that we might live for Him. He traded a crown of righteousness for a crown of thorns. He died according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He was raised again according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).
Let us never forget what He has accomplished for us.
* With Nicole Gentry