While he was speaking, a throng appeared and the one called Judas – one of the twelve – was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him. (Luke 22:47)The word, "betraying" comes from the Greek word παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) which means, "to give into the hands (of another)," according to the lexicon. In this circumstance, Judas was effectively handing Jesus over to the guards of Caiaphas.
This would be deemed a betrayal in this context, but in other contexts, it means specifically handing over someone, or having someone arrested.
Jesus knew that Judas was bringing the guards to arrest him. At the 'last supper,' Jesus said to Judas:
“What you are about to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27)From other statements, Jesus knew this was the night he would be arrested:
"Yet consider that the hand of the one who has me arrested is here with mine at the table." (Luke 22:21)So Jesus not only knew that Judas was going to have him arrested, but he actually instructed Judas to go do it.
Does this mean that Jesus wanted to be arrested?
No. How do we know this? We know this because Jesus was struggling with what was going to happen. We can see this from his prayer to God and the fact that he was struggling as he prayed.
From a personal perspective, Jesus would have preferred not to be arrested and persecuted. Can anyone blame him? Who would have wanted to bring this upon himself?
But Jesus had a bigger objective: He was serving the Supreme Being. He was using his life to please his beloved Lord.
Did this mean that he became God's sacrificial lamb? To be tortured in order to be the sacrifice for all of our sins?
This is certainly the theory of those sectarian teachers that formed the ecclesiastical institutions that followed Jesus - those institutions that became precisely like those Jewish institutions that Jesus abhored and preached against.
Many of the institutions claiming to follow Jesus want us to believe that in order to be cleansed of sins, we needed to have someone be sacrificed for us: And Jesus was this sacrificial lamb. Their view is that Jesus is like a door mat, that we can just wipe our sins off onto.
Let's look at such a proposition carefully.
First, it proposes that forgiveness can only be accomplished through some sacrificial ritual.
If Jesus taught this, why did Jesus himself teach his students to ask God directly to be forgiven for their sins? As part of his Lord's Prayer, he suggested they request this directly from God:
"Please forgive our offenses, as we forgive those who offend us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from wickedness." (Matt. 6:12-13)But wait, wasn't the only way those before Jesus could be cleansed was through the sacrifice of animals? Isn't this what all the burnt sacrifices were all about?
Actually, no. They were about making offerings to God. Moses himself showed us how God's forgiveness could be requested of directly:
"Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance." (Exodus 34:9 NIV)Many other Prophets - servants of God - throughout the Bible asked God for His forgiveness. Including Solomon within his prayer:
And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you..." (1 King 8:50 NIV)Job also requested God to forgive his sins:
"Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?" (Job 7:21 NIV)David also asked God to forgive his sins:
"Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of Your Name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your Name’s sake." (Psalms 79:9 NIV)Note that the Israelites conducted animal sacrifices regularly. Why would Moses, David, Solomon and Job need to ask God's forgiveness if the animal sacrifices were cleansing their sins?
The reality is that those who taught that God needs animal sacrifices - or the sacrifice of His loving servant Jesus - in order to cleanse sins are wrong.
It is a preposterous proposition that God has to comply with or submit to any ritual in order to accomplish something.
We are speaking of the Supreme Being here. Why would some ritual be required for the Supreme Being to be able to forgive people of their sins? Such a requirement would mean that the Supreme Being is subject to rituals - that He has to comply with some rules of rituals.
He doesn't because He is God. He is the Supreme Being. He doesn't have to comply with any ritual or any other requirement. He can do what He wants.
So He can forgive our sins anytime He wants. He can cleanse our sins or not - as He wishes.
Again, Jesus emphasized in his teachings that his students seek the forgiveness of their sins from God directly:
"For if you forgive others for their offenses, your spiritual LORD will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive the offenses of others, neither will your LORD forgive your offenses." (Matt. 6:14-15)Now if Jesus' persecution was going to forgive everyone's sins automatically - as if he was a sacrificial lamb - then why would he advise his students to ask God to forgive them? Why didn't he just tell them to wait until he was persecuted on the cross, and just accept that he was going to die for their sins and they would be clean?
Because Jesus didn't teach this.
What is being spoken of with respect to forgiveness - and what Jesus indicated with his statement about forgiving others before we can be forgiven - is having a change of heart.
You see, it is not as if we have these black marks against us and they are magically erased. Being forgiven isn't about us getting a clean slate so we can continue our self-centeredness. It means gaining a pure heart - a heart cleansed of self-centeredness.
Throughout the New Testament, for example, the words "forgive" and "forgiveness" are being translated from the Greek word, ἀφίημι (aphiēmi). This word means "to send away - to bid going away or depart," "to send forth, yield up, to expire." And the word "sin" is being translated from the Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartia), which refers to "offenses" or "being offensive."
What is being "let go" or being "sent away" during forgiveness? It is one's self-centeredness: This is what is offensive to the Supreme Being.
Forgiveness means to have a change of heart - from being self-centered to being God-centered. A change from loving oneself to loving the Supreme Being.
Thus becoming forgiven is not like wiping our feet off on a mat. It is having a change of consciousness.
This is what the aspiring lover of God asks of God. They ask God to allow them to leave behind their self-centered lives and enter into a life centered around loving and serving the Supreme Being.
Such a state of purified consciousness is prayed for by those who wish to please God because in such a state, we can embrace our pure state of happiness: Love of God. This is actually our original state - before we became diseased with self-centeredness.
So can Jesus' persecution help accomplish such a renewed definition of forgiveness?
Remember first, that we have scripturally proven that one can gain such a renewed purified consciousness by approaching the Supreme Being and requesting this from Him in prayer.
Such a sincere prayer can help us accomplish this changed consciousness because the Supreme Being is also the Supreme Guide. If we want Him to guide us and help us have a change of heart, then He will help us do so. It is not necessarily an overnight thing either: A real change of heart typically takes time.
Jesus' persecution can help us accomplish such a changed consciousness - should we come to realize Jesus' loving relationship with the Supreme Being. By seeing Jesus' act of loving service to God - his allowing his body to be persecuted on behalf of his teachings of love for God - one can gain access to the consciousness of love for God.
Such a consciousness is still being accomplished through the grace and mercy of the Supreme Being. This is not a group thing. It has nothing to do with joining this sect or that sect. It has nothing to do with what others think of us. It is something personal, between us and the Supreme Being.
This is why Jesus suggested we pray privately to our wise and loving Best Friend:
"And when you pray, do not do what the hypocrites do, for they like to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so they may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your closet and shut the door, and pray to your LORD who is in secret; and your LORD who sees what is done secretly shall reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use tedious repetition as the pagans do, for they assume they will be heard due to their many words. Don’t be like them, for your LORD knows what things you need before you ask Him." (Matt. 6:5-8)New Testament verses in this commentary are from The Gospels of Jesus.