A Bad Day Made Worse by Betrayal (Luke 22:39-65)


“He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

“It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong, right down to lima beans for supper and kissing on TV.

“What do you do on a day like that? Well, you may think about going to Australia. You may also be glad to find that some days are like that for other people too.”

Thus begins the extremely popular children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2012), written by Judith Viorst. What makes the book so popular for both children AND adults, is that it is relatable. We have all had very bad days. We have all had days where we wish we could go back to bed and try again, or even better, not get up at all. But let’s be honest, most of what we call bad days are not really bad days at all. Yes, somedays are bad. Some days are horrible. But most of the time it is the little pressures and stresses and annoyances that trip us up and change our moods. Compared to Jesus’ bad day, none of us have really had a bad day. And His bad day was made worse by the betrayal of close friends. Yes, you read that right, “friends”. Plural. Judas was not the only person to betray Jesus on the night He was arrested.

Jesus’ Bad Day

By the time you come to today’s passage, it’s Thursday evening of Passion Week; the last week of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion. The Passover meal is now over. Jesus has washed His disciples feet, and now, late in the evening, He begins the two mile journey back to Bethany. “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him” (Luke 22:39). Jesus’ path each day from Bethany to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to Bethany went through a public garden called Gethsamane. Upon reaching the garden, Jesus said to His disciples, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40). An interesting choice of words, but a much needed warning because of what had been predicted and what was to come. Jesus then went a short distance from the disciples and “knelt down and prayed” (Luke 22:41). He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus knew what was about to happen and He was not looking forward to it. He was anxious, and, humanely speaking, unsure if He had the strength to do what needed to be done. He knew the pain and the suffering and the torture He would have to endure. Jesus knew He was going to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Yet, even though He prayed not to go through it, He sumbitted Himself to the will of His Father. His words of submission sound similar to those of His mother when she found out she was pregnant with Him even though she was a virgin. Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

At the exact time Jesus needed it the most, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43). In the lyrics of Dottie Peoples, “He’s an on time God, Yes He is, He’s an on time God…He may not come when you want Him, but He’ll be there right on time. He’s an on time God, Yes He is.”

Jesus needed all the strength He could get because, “being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). The clinical term for what happened (remember, Luke was a medical doctor) was Jesus experienced hematidrosis (he-ma-ti-dro-sis), a condition brought on by extreme stress where a person actually sweats blood. Though very rare, hematidrosis is most comononly seen in soldiers just before going into battle. Jesus was about to do battle with all the forces of hell.

Luke continues, “When he (Jesus)[1] rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow” (Luke 22:45). Even though they did not understand what all was going on, Jesus’ disciples knew things were not right. They knew Jesus was under extreme sorrow, and His sorrow affected their sorrow. There is nothing quite like exaustion that is brought on by sadness.

‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:46). This is the second time Jesus has warned them about “falling into temtptation.” What did He mean? To what was He referring? I believe, in context, the tempation was the temptation to betray Jesus. The spirit of betryal was as thick as fog on this night.

Luke continues, “While he (Jesus)[2] was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:47-48). Jesus’ day just went from bad to worse. This was Judas’ plan all along (Luke 22:6). The arresting soldiers would have known about Jesus, but would have never actually seen Jesus. Plus, it was dark, and so Judas has arranged the sign of who Jesus was by giving Him a traditional, welcoming kiss on the cheek.

Luke continues, “When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’” (Luke 22:49). A futile question, because even though Jesus had told them to sell their clothes and by swords (see Luke 22:36), they only had two swords among them all (see Luke 22:38), and Jesus said that two was “enough” (Luke 22:38).[3] There is no way they could have fought of a battalion of soldiers with two swords! Remember, Judas was a zealot and was hoping that the arrest would result in Jesus leading a revolution. At least one other disciple, probably Peter, was ready for a fight as well. Luke writes, “And one of them (probably Peter)[4] struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him” (Luke 22:50-51).

Luke continues, “Then Jesus said to the chief priest, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have to come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns’” (Luke 22:52-53).

Jesus’ Bad Get Worse

As bad, and painful, as Judas’ betrayal was, Peter’s betrayal was probably worse, and more heartbreaking. Peter was Jesus’ chosen disciple to lead His rag-tag group of followers. Earlier, Jesus predicted Peter’s betrayal. The story goes like this:

“‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you,Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me’ (Luke 22:31-34).

 The phrase, “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat” is reminiscent of the story of Job, when Satan asked God for permission to test and tempt Job and God grants his requests (see Job 1:6-12 and Job 2:1-7). Apparently, a similar requests was made by Satan on behalf of the Twelve disciples. This would explain Luke 22:3, “Then Satan entered Judas,” as well as explain why twice Jesus asked His disciples not to “fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40 and 46).

Peter was convinced there was no way he would ever deny Jesus. He proved he was ready to fight and die for Him by cutting off the soldier’s ear. But instead of fighting, Jesus scolded Peter and healed the guy’s ear. Peter is now confused and dissillusioned.

“Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.”But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said. (Denial #1.)

“A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’Man, I am not!’ Peter replied. (Denial #2.)  

About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’

Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ (Denial #3.)[5] Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’  And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:54-62).

 Jesus’ day went from bad to worse by the betrayal of, not one, but two friends. Our day goes from bad to worse when, instead of being the one who is betrayed, we are the ones who commit the betrayal.

There are three ways we betray Jesus. First, we betray Him through our silence. If you think about it, Jesus was betrayed three times on this one night. Judas betrayed Him. Peter betrayed Him. But so did the other Ten Disciples. They betrayed Him by doing nothing. They betrayed Hiim by remaining silent. Judas wanted to start a fight. Peter was ready to join him. But they others? They just stood around and did nothing. Likewise, when we don’t stand up for what is right, when we don’t speak up for Jesus, when we sit back and do nothing, we betray Him by our silence.

Secondly, we betray Jesus by our actions. This is what Judas did. He schemed, divised, and carried out a plan to have Jesus arrested. Likewise, when we claim to be a follower of Jesus, but our lifestyles show otherwise, we betray Him.

Third, we betray Jesus by our denials. This is what Peter did. In a moment of weakness and confusion, he denied even knowing Jesus, not once, but three times! Sometimes following Jesus is not easy. Sometimes it will make you unpopular. Sometimes the easy thing to do is simply deny you know Him. But when you do that, you deny the very one who died for you.

Silence. Actions. Denials. All our SAD ways we betray Jesus.

Contrasting Judas with Peter:

 At one time or another, either through our silence, our actions, or our denials, we have betrayed Jesus. But that betrayal doesn’t need to define who we are in Him. By contrasting what happened to Judas and Peter, after their betrayal, we learn what we should do when we betray Jesus.

Judas’ response to his betrayal is found in Matthew 27:3-5.

“When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.

“‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

 Judas took matters into his own hands. He tried to solve the problem he had created himself. To put it succinctly, Judas tried to rectify his wrong on his own and the result was suicide. The result was complete and utter hopelessness.

By contrast, Luke says that Peter “went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Strong words that show true remorse. From John’s gospel we learn that, after the resurrection, Peter is reconciled to Jesus and Jesus reinstates Peter to his place of leadership among the disciples. An incredible example of forgiveness, mercy, and grace! (See John 21:15-22). To put it succinctly, Peter repented of his wrong and the result was salvation.


It is has been rightly said that there is no pain like betrayal because only a friend can betray a friend.

Where are you today?

What is God saying to you, through His Holy Spirit?

Have you gone back on your commitment to follow Jesus?

Have you been silent when you should have spoken up?

Have your words confessed one thing, but your actions proved another?

Have you denied that you know Jesus?

If you have betrayed, don’t be like Judas. Don’t try to solve the problem on your own. Don’t try to make things right under your own power. Doing so will only lead to depression, dissilusitionment, and hoplessness.

Instead, respond like Peter. Repent of your sins. Humble yourself and receive forgiveness from the very One you have betrayed.

The choice is yours.

Don’t make your bad day, even worse.


[1] Parenthesis added for explanation.

[2] Parenthesis added for explanations.

[3] It should be obvious from the context, and from the fact Jesus said two swords was plenty, that the purpose of Him telling the disciples to buy swords was not for self-defense or to start a revolution.

[4] Parenthesis added for explanation.

[5] All three parenthesis are for emphasis and explanation.

About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider, author...in that order.
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