Becoming Spiritual Decathletes: Part 7

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Pastor Mark Mikels – August 10,


(“Connecting With Christ” Series –
Part 46)

Mark 14:41-71

Intro … Today we continue our examination of the Great Spiritual
Decathlon that occupied the Lord Jesus the final eight days of his
earthly life – ten incredible spiritual challenges that challenged him
incredibly – ten spiritual exertions that lay out a pattern that we
ourselves might well be called upon to follow.

So far we have seen him engaging in five of the ten:

Temple Cleansing – Question Handling – Future Facing –

Battle Preparing – Extreme Distress Managing

This week we look at the sixth of these ten great challenges – this
challenge is created by a circumstance that would surely qualify as one
of those extreme life distresses we talked about last week.

It’s a circumstance that has the potential to knock us right out of the

game – to cause us to want to simply pack our stuff up and go home!

I’m talking about the terrible life experience called betrayal and the
challenge Christ faced could therefore be called …

Christ’s Sixth Great Challenge …


Here’s how Webster defines the experience that prompts this particular
challenge …

BETRAYAL: to break FAITH with; to fail to meet the HOPES of; to deliver
to one’s ENEMY

Betrayal can generate devastating affects in the lives of those who
feel betrayed; betrayal s much more difficult to deal with than “simple
opposition or even persecution” … it certainly is more difficult to
deal with than the otherwise impersonal pressures of life.

Betrayal is personal – intensely personal – for the truth is you can
only be betrayed by one with whom you have or think you have or think
you should have a legitimate relationship. We cannot be betrayed by our
enemies – we can only be betrayed by those with whom we think we have
or think we should have a positive connection.

And that’s what makes “surviving betrayal” such a challenging task!

In our somewhat extended passage this week (Mark 14:41-15:3) I see
three examples that fit our definition of betrayal … Jesus was
betrayed by Judas, by Peter and by the respected leaders of His People.

In each case … that which should have been wasn’t and something that
shouldn’t have been was.

Judas – a member of the chosen Twelve – sold Jesus out

for 30 pieces of silver.

Peter – one of the inner Three – sold Jesus out to save his own skin.

The Sanhedrin – that august body of respected Jewish leaders – sold
Jesus out to assure their continued political privilege.

Each of these betrayals had the potential to devastate the Lord Jesus
humanly speaking …

How could Judas who had been with him for over three years

turn on him so?

How could Peter in a moment of stress completely collapse so?

How could the honored, venerable leaders of the people vote so?

Any of those betrayals individually (let alone all of them
collectively) could have sent Jesus into the familiar paralysis that
comes from analysis!

Where had he gone wrong? How could he have handled things differently?
How could he possibly continue to function – how could he possibly
continue on his intended course in the face of the feelings of
rejection that such betrayals always generate?

Indeed how could he? How did he?

Or to put it in terms of our message today – how did Jesus Survive

Betrayal – How did he master the challenge known as “Betrayal

And lest we allow this to be an academic enquiry only, consider with me

Today’s Sad Reality …

Sooner or later MOST of us will experience BETRAYAL in

one form or another.

Sooner or later (sad to say) most of us will have someone that we count
on – someone that we thought was “on our side” – turn against us – deny
that they are associated with us, maybe even do something to directly
harm us. Such a turn of events can have devastating consequences in our

And so the issue is … if such a thing were to happen to us, what can
we do to minimize the damage? What can we draw from the experience of
Christ in the final days of his earthly life that might point the way
for us?

As I looked at this passage from that point of view, I discovered …

Three Powerful PROTECTORS Against The DEVASTATION Betrayal

Can Generate:

#1.The Protector Called ANTICIPATION

Anticipate What PEOPLE Might Do – Don’t be BLIND-SIDED.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given in this regard was
given by a man who many years ago wound up betraying me – charging me
with not preaching the Word and accusing me of holding a liberal
theology. And he did this in the midst of a public meeting of the
church that I was pastoring at the time.

His advice to me (given at an earlier time) …

“Never forget that people are people.”

That’s like the Boston Red Socks fans saying (up until a week or so

“That’s just Manny (Ramirez) being Manny”

Pretty soon that’s what Dodger fans will be saying!

If you would minimize the damage done by any of life’s little or large
betrayals, remember that people are people – don’t be blindsided by
such behavior if and/or when it occurs.

Never underestimate the power of unenlightened self-interest! When
people start thinking in terms of “what is best for me” they can become
willing to sacrifice almost anyone if need be to better or protect

Jesus not only anticipated what people could do – he knew what they in
fact would do … He was definitely not caught off guard.

“One of you (he said) will betray me”

“Peter, before this night is over you will deny even knowing me.”

“The leaders of the Jews will condemn me”

The Apostle John stated it more generally when he wrote …

“Jesus did not need man’s testimony about man,

for he knew what was in a man” (John 2:25)

Anticipate what people might do … don’t be blind-sided and thus don’t
be overly shocked or blown out of the water when it turns out that
“people are in fact people”.

Now also, as you anticipate what people might do …

Anticipate How SCRIPTURE Might Be Fulfilled – Don’t feel IMMUNE.

Jesus saw these very actions as being forecast in the Scripture.

“But the Scriptures must be fulfilled” (vs. 49)

Perhaps he was thinking of Scriptures like these:

“I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Zech.

“… he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the
transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

Jesus didn’t see himself as being immune to the warnings of the
Scripture, he saw himself as the very focus of those Scriptures …

And so must that be our view … Remember what the words we read in
Mark chapter 13 …

“You must be on your guard … you will be handed over” (9)

“Brother will betray brother … and a father his child.” (12)

And if brother or father, who’s to say that it wouldn’t be husband or
wife, or sister or mother, or pastor or teacher, or boss or employee?

Now note … our protector is Anticipation – anticipate the fact that
the day may come when someone you count on, someone you trust, someone
perhaps that you even love might turn on you and harm you in some
significant way. However, our protector is not Suspicion or Paranoia.

We can’t become like the life-hardened policeman who cynically says to
himself … “Everyone is a criminal, I just don’t know the crime”.

We cannot take the approach “They all will do me in sooner or later.”

A spirit of suspicion is actually an indication of betrayal

Now another part of the devastation that betrayal generates (if we are
not prepared) is the inability to forgive and to continue to love and
seek the best for the very one who has betrayed us.

However, one who is a “Betrayal Survivor” is able to do that, just like
Jesus would later do with Peter and with any of the Jewish leaders who
ultimately put their trust in him.

Devastation Protector #1 … Anticipation … Anticipating what people
might do and Anticipating how Scripture might be fulfilled.

And now … Devastation Protector #2 …

The Protector Called AFFIRMATION

What betrayals really do is strike at our own sense of identity and

“He’s a source of revenue” … that’s what Judas determined.

“He’s a threat to my well-being” – that’s what Peter wound up with.

“He is a blasphemer” – that’s what the chief priest concluded (v.63)

“He’s a threat to the nation” – that’s what Pilate was told (15:2)

Affirmation is a powerful protective weapon to use against the
self-image devastation that betrayal can cause.

Here’s how Jesus’ words come across in affirmational form …

“I AM the CHRIST – The SON of the Blessed One” (Mk. 14:61-62)

“I AM the KING of the JEWS” (Mk 15:3)

Nothing they can say can change the facts – I know who I am!

And since nothing that they can say can change the facts, then I can
continue to move forward (to some degree) just as if the betrayal never
happened. My mind-set (again to some degree at least) is “what is their

Here are some affirmations that might assist us at such times …

“I am a Child of God;

I am a member of God’s Eternal Family;

I am a Servant of the Lord; I am Part of His Sovereign Plan;

I am kept by His Holy Spirit.”

And now thirdly and finally this morning – Devastation Protector #3

The Protector Called APPRECIATION

Appreciate the fact that their betrayal hasn’t ultimately

CHANGED anything!

God’s Work will go on … You will go on … Your life in Christ will
go on.

All your betrayers have ultimately done is damage themselves and we
would pray that that damage would not be permanent but that they would
“come to their senses” and be made positive and productive once again.

And in the meantime (while kiss of their betrayal still stings your

Appreciate the fact that you SHARE in the


For the Apostle Paul … one of the Church’s most betrayed and
persecuted men … that was a great comfort. It gave meaning to the
moment and it drew him into even closer fellowship.

Betrayal Surviving – it’s a daunting challenge, but it can be done!

Final Thot …

Our ultimate PROTECTION against the devastation that can be

generated by BETRAYAL is our knowledge that there is

ONE who will “Never LEAVE us or FORSAKE us”.

(Hebrews 13:5)