Repenting from Betrayal – Holy Week Series

13 April 2022, Wednesday of Holy Week

By Rev. Kenneth Mtata

Verse of the day

“So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night” (John 13:30)

Readings of the day

John 13:21-32

One difficult feature around the death of Jesus was being sold out by one of his closest associates. It was clear from the anxiety of the temple and Roman authorities that Jesus was now a threat to the establishment, and they needed to stop him by killing him. But to catch Jesus without causing public protest, they needed to do it secretly and hence the need to get help from someone close to Jesus. Judas was willing to do this for money.

This betrayal was painful because it was revealed during one of the most intimate moments, during a family dinner. It was here that Jesus disclosed that their community had been infiltrated and one of them was now going to sell him out. The disciples could not imagine selling out the one who had given them so much hope, so they asked who this could be. Jesus said “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” As soon as Judas ate the piece of bread given to him by Jesus, he realized he had been discovered. So he fled immediately in the thick of the dark night.

It has been common for us to make Judas a symbol of betrayal. But that is not the full story because other disciples, like Peter, also betrayed Jesus when they denied him during his trial. Yet what distinguishes Peter from Judas is that Peter realized his failings and repented. Judas continued in his life betrayal until it destroyed him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, betrayal or selling out are the most destructive acts towards building personal character, unity and integrity of family and community, and prosperity of nations. In order to survive, especially in situations of vulnerability, all of us need solidarity of others; we need people who will cover our back.

In the next five days we celebrate our national independence. But remember that during the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence, the slogan, “pasi nevatengesi”
(the sellouts must be destroyed!) came from the realization that in a struggle for liberation, your security was dependent on the fidelity or faithfulness of your close associates. If they sold, you got exposed to your enemies.

In on this day of the Holy Week, we are reminded to the dangers of betrayal and unfaithfulness for our walk of faith. But how does betrayal work? There are three main reasons people betray. The first one is pleasure. Through momentary selfish pleasure, Christians can betray their families, their communities, and their faith. Sometimes selfish pleasure comes in the form of gifts and possessions. We have seen that sometimes people who used to be trustworthy losing their credibility because they had been given gifts. Sometimes pleasure is derived from being praised or overrespect. People lose objective judgement when they are praised or worshipped.

The second cause of betrayal or selling out is fear of pain. Many people who sell out do so out of fear of physical, psychological, or financial pain. The greatest pain that may cause people to sell out or betray is the fear of death. When people are threatened with death, they can compromise their faith.

The third and greatest reason why people betray their faithfulness is loss of principle or moral conviction. If people lose clarity of the reasons for faith or have their faith becomes diluted, they can easily betray their family, friends, community, their nation and even their faith. When people lose focus of the foundational principles and start to pursue unimportant things, they easily become sellouts.

The reason why currently our churches are not making the impact they should make in the nation when Christians are the majority is because individual members have lost their sense of purpose and are using church to pursue factional interests, wealth, fame and positions of power.

The reason why our communities are losing mutual solidarity and accountability is because members of the community have lost the basic sense of community in pursuit of individualistic and personal interests.

The reason why we have not made enough progress as a nation since we got our independence in 1980 is because some of our people, especially those in leadership, have sold out and betrayed the nation in pursuit of personal pleasure, greed and wealth accumulation. They have forgotten the principles and purpose of the liberation struggle.

During this Holy Week, may we be called back to our faithfulness and fidelity. May we repent from our own betrayal of Jesus, our families, our friends, our faith, our communities and our nation.

Let us pray
God, like Judas, we have failed many times to remain faithful to our discipleship. We have pursued pleasure, we have become too fearful of pain, and we have lost our principle and conviction. Forgive us and bring us back to the path of faithfulness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen