Sermon from the Gospel according to Mark | The Betrayal of Jesus | Mark 14:17-21

The Betrayal of Jesus (Mark 14:17-21)

Before Tammy and I were married, I was engaged to an Alabama girl. One evening, six weeks or so before our wedding, I went to the student center on campus to do some laundry. There sat my fiancée on the couch, kissing and holding hands with another boy. I chose not to marry that girl, but that act of betrayal hurt me to my core. I even felt insecure at times in my marriage with Tammy because of that betrayal.

You’ve probably been betrayed by someone, too. Maybe you’ve been betrayed by a fiancé(e) or a spouse. Some of you probably confided a secret to a friend, but that friend didn’t keep your confidence. You might have been stabbed in the back by someone with whom you worked. Others of you may have been deeply hurt by a fellow Christian, and that hurt may have felt like a betrayal.

Imagine betraying Jesus. Judas did, and in this morning’s text, Jesus called Judas out for betraying him. The Lord said: “You can do nothing worse than betray Jesus.

Scripture (Mark 14:17-21)

verse 17:

Normally a family or two came together to eat the Passover meal, but here Jesus and the Twelve form a family.

verse 18:

“As they were reclining at table and eating.” Table fellowship in antiquity was extremely intimate; you only ate with people you loved. Part of that was the way Jewish men ate at banquets. They gathered in a circle around the table and reclined on their left arm, leaving their right arm free to eat. Their heads would be in the chest of the guy next to them. Personal space didn’t exist at these banquets, so there was abundant intimacy.

“Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’” Ancient people would have been astounded to hear Jesus say that. As a rule, people just didn’t stoop so low as to betray those with whom they ate.

verse 19:

The disciples began to be sorrowful at such distressing news. And they began to ask Jesus one after another, “Is it I?” There is an untranslatable Greek word that negates the question; the disciples really said: “You don’t mean me, do you?” The disciples couldn’t fathom that one of their own would betray Jesus.

verse 20:

The one who was “dipping bread into the dish with” Jesus would betray him. On the table would have been a small dipping bowl with sauce or relish where one could dip pieces of bread. Judas apparently was dipping his bread in the dish at the same time Jesus was speaking.

verse 21:

Jesus would go as the Scriptures had written about him. The prophets had foretold the events that would take place, and the prophetic word would be fulfilled.

However, it would have been better for Judas never to have been born. Think about that! How would you feel if the Master of the Universe looked at you and said, “It would have been better if you had never been born?”


You can do nothing worse than betray Jesus.” Many Christians today betray Jesus. They have come to him, been baptized into his death, raised to walk in newness of life, but they live for the flesh. They refuse to assemble with the saints. They engage in sexual immorality as though it is nothing. They lie to get ahead. They are greedy. They lay out drunk all night. They choose the pleasures of this world over the sacrificial life of Christ. They boast about their sin. Friends and neighbors know all about their immorality. They are like those who “are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Heb 6:6).

None of you wants to hold Jesus “up to contempt.” However, you can easily betray Jesus. Every time you’re with your friends and you don’t live what you profess, you betray Jesus. Every time you sin publicly, you betray Jesus. Every time you live openly in a sin, you betray Jesus. Every time you refuse to put Jesus first, you betray Jesus.

You, I believe, would be brokenhearted to betray Jesus. So, how can you keep from betraying Jesus? Judas will show you how not to betray Jesus.

To keep from betraying Jesus, you must guard your Soul.

Instead of guarding his Soul, Judas allowed Satan to enter it. “Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve” (Lk 22:3). “The devil . . . put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (Jn 13:2).

Don’t let Satan get your Soul; guard your heart: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov 4:23). Satan wants your heart: he roams about like a roaring lion seeking to devour you. Don’t let him. Put up gates to your heart he cannot penetrate.

  • Spend time reading the word.
  • Spend time praying to your Father.
  • Be careful what you put into your heart.

Guard your Soul at all costs!

To keep from betraying Jesus, you must guard your Stuff.

Judas saw that he could make money from betraying Jesus. Matthew 26:14-16. Judas loved money. When Mary anointed Jesus with an expensive perfume, Judas bellyached that the ointment wasn’t sold to give money to the poor. However, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (Jn 12:6). Judas got so caught up in Stuff that he couldn’t see eternity.

You must guard your Stuff, for it is all going to pass away: “The world is passing away along with its desires” (1 Jn 2:17). You cannot lose sight of the fact that everything in this world is temporary—all the pleasures of this world, all the approval of your friends, all the financial success isn’t going to last eternally. Why betray Jesus for something that isn’t going to last the test of time? Guard your Stuff at all costs!

To keep from betraying Jesus, you must guard your Sorrow.

Judas, when he realized what he did, was sorrowful, but he still acted inappropriately. Matthew 27:3-5. What if, instead of going out and hanging himself, Judas had guarded his Sorrow and returned to Jesus in repentance? He could have been an example of Jesus’s love, compassion, and forgiveness. Instead, he allowed himself to be overcome by his Sorrow.

When we sin (and especially when we sin openly and publicly betray Jesus), our hearts should be torn to pieces. “My iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (Ps 38:4). “I know my transgression, and my sin is ever before me” (Ps 51:3). After Peter denied Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly (Matt 27:75).

And Jesus welcomes the brokenhearted home and gives them rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28-29). Do you need to come to Jesus with a broken heart this morning?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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