Who Betrayed Jesus?

Willow Creek | March 8, 2024

Easter Sunday is the day we remember Jesus’ miraculous resurrection from the grave. However, the Easter story couldn’t have happened without the Friday prior, when Jesus would be betrayed. So, who betrayed Jesus? Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. The twelve disciples were Jesus’ closest friends, and they were dedicated to His teachings. We don’t know the heart behind why Judas betrayed Jesus, but we do know he was given thirty pieces of silver (about a day’s wage at the time–Matthew 26:15-16) for doing so. 

Very early Friday morning, while Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, guards showed up to arrest Jesus, led by Judas. Since it was dark, and because some of the guards might not have known what Jesus looked like, Judas identified Jesus by going up to Him and greeting Him with a kiss (Mark 14:43-45). Jesus was then arrested for claiming to be the Son of God (at the time, a punishable crime under Jewish law–Mark 14:61-64). 

What happened on Good Friday?


Now, a very similar question to “who betrayed Jesus” is “who denied Jesus?” That Friday, while Jesus was on trial, another one of His disciples, by the name of Simon Peter (more commonly known as just Peter), denied knowing Jesus three times. Before his denials, at the Last Supper (the last meal Jesus and all twelve disciples would share together), Jesus told Peter he would deny knowing Him (Matthew 26:31-35). Peter then remarked, saying, “I will never disown you.” Just a few hours later, after Jesus was arrested, Peter was outside where Jesus was being questioned, and three different people approached him saying they recognized him as one who hung around with Jesus. Peter adamantly denied their claims (Matthew 26:69-75). 


Who betrayed Jesus? Judas. Who denied Jesus? Peter. But, Judas and Peter had very different endings to their stories. After His resurrection, Jesus visited Peter and other disciples after they had been out fishing. Peter declared his love for Jesus three times, then Jesus told Peter to “feed His sheep” (meaning to go out and share the good news of His resurrection with others–John 21:15-19). After being “reinstated” by Jesus, Peter (along with the other disciples), would go on to start the most amazing movement in history: the Christian movement.

Who is Jesus, and why is He so important? Find out here.


Judas had a very different end to his story. After he learned Jesus would be crucified, he felt deep pain for what he had done. He tried to return the thirty pieces of silver he had been given, but the priests who had paid him did not want their silver back. Judas, feeling extreme guilt, hung himself (Matthew 27:1-10). 


Even though Judas betrayed Jesus, it was an event that would play a critical role in Jesus overcoming the grave and beating death. Jesus died on the cross, yes, but He overcame the grave (Luke 24:1-12), and that’s what we celebrate on Easter Sunday. 


In the Bible, you can find the story of Judas’ betrayal here: Matthew 26:14-25.

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