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Were You There When He Was Betrayed? - Matthew 26

A service plan for Lent planned around Judas' betrayal of Jesus, part of a Lenten series following specific events that led up to Christ's death and resurrection.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Since this is the second Sunday of Lent, we continue to pursue the theme of "Were You There?" for a series of messages. You will find the entire listing of the sermons in this series within the material posted for February 13 entitled "An Introduction to Lent."

The event in focus for this message is the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the others. This event involves several movements or phrases as will be explained in the sermon notes. Whereas the sermon last week focused on the plot to get rid of Jesus, this message and service will focus more specifically on Judas and his involvement in the plot. This service will need to focus on the disillusionment that Judas experienced, the tragedy of his betrayal, and the work of Christ who was willing to experience betrayal for the sake of our salvation.

Please note that this event is taken out of the chronological order in which these events took place in order to make other events fit the appropriate holy days later on.


Prelude: "Christ, the Life of All the Living" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
"Amazing Grace"

Introit: "When the Trumpet Sounds," Thomas [see<href="#music" > music notes]

*The Call to Worship
The trumpet of the Lord sounds, calling us to examine our souls,
for we have not only met temptation, we have felt its grip.
The trumpet of the Lord sounds, calling us to mend our ways,
for we have not only committed sin, we have felt its sting.
The trumpet of the Lord sounds, calling us to rend our hearts,
for we have not only witnessed forgiveness, we have felt its power.
O come, let us worship the Lord!
(The Worship Sourcebook, p. 555)

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song of Praise: "Christ, the Life of All the Living" PsH 371


The Call to Confession

The Scriptures tell us that God desires to forgive his people. We have sinned and Jesus has
come to pay the price for it. The prophet Isaiah says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all"

(Isa. 53:6). Therefore, trusting the grace and mercy of God, let us confess our sins to God
and to one another.

Sung Prayer of Confession: "O Christ, the Lamb of God" PsH 257, RN 216, SFL 44
or "Kyrie" RN 86, SNC 52, 53, UMH 483
or "Lamb of God" SNC 253

*The Assurance of God's Pardon
Please rise for the Gospel Reading. [pause]
Hear the reading of the Holy Gospel in which we are told the story of the suffering and
death of Jesus Christ for our pardon and salvation.
Matthew 27:24-31
This is the Gospel of Christ: “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by
his wounds we are healed"
(Isaiah 53:5b).

*The Passing of the Peace
Leader: The peace of Christ be with you.
All: And also with you.
(The worshipers greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ be with you.")

*Our Sung Response: "What Wondrous Love" (st. 1, 3) PH 85, PsH 379, RN 277, SFL 169, TH 261, TWC 212, UMH 292
or "I Love the Lord" SNC 227

Offertory Prayer

Offertory: "As Moses Raised the Serpent Up" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
or "For God So Loved the World"


The Children's Moment

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16, 20-25, 47-56
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "Were You There When He Was Betrayed?"
(Were You There - #2)

Response: "Were You There?" PH 102, PsH 377, SFL 167, TH 260, TWC 218
1. "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"
2. "Were you there when they plotted for his death?"
3. "Were you there when he schemed to sell our Lord?"

Anthem: "I Wonder Why," Pfautsch [see <href="#music" >music notes]


The Prayers of the People [concluded with the Lord's Prayer in unison]

*Our Affirmation of Faith: The Nicene Creed

*Song: "Man of Sorrows-What a Name" PsH 482, TH 246, TWC 226, UMH 165


*The Benediction and Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Hail, O Once-Despised Jesus" (st. 3-4) PsH 395

Postlude: "Were You There " [see <href="#music" >music notes]
or "Hail, O Once-Despised Jesus"

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. It would be good to briefly reintroduce the Lenten series of messages to the congregation again. Quickly explain its intent, particularly for those who were not present last week. After doing that, the focus of this sermon must be carefully distinguished from last week. At that time the focus of the message was on the efforts of plotting by the religious leaders to get rid of Jesus. Judas was in view last week but only secondarily. This week he is the primary focus.
  2. A study of the person of Judas can be difficult. We only have scant information about him. But what information we have is a sad and difficult story. It's been called a "night study of a dark person." His journey apparently moves through several stages:
    1. He was a disciple in good standing during Jesus' ministry, apparently trusted enough by the others to be appointed treasurer (see John 12:6).
    2. Jesus was aware from the beginning that Judas would become a betrayer (see John 6:64, 70, 71).
    3. There is good evidence for the fact that Judas went through a process of disillusionment with Jesus. Perhaps he was expecting an earthly kingdom in which he would hopefully have a prominent place. So he couldn't understand why Jesus seemed to be withdrawing more and more, talking about suffering and death, and the religious leaders were becoming angrier with him. Judas perhaps began to feel the "loss of a dream."
    4. Two other events may give us additional information about a deteriorating relationship between Jesus and Judas. He was left out when Peter, James and John were invited to accompany Jesus up the Mount of Transfiguration (why didn't they take the "Treasurer"?), and he and Jesus clashed at Mary and Martha's banquet on the day before the Triumphal Entry (see John 12:1-8).
    Is it possible that this disillusioning process caused Judas to turn against Jesus and join the opposition?
  3. The process of Judas's betrayal moved through several stages which are chronicled in Matthew 26.
    1. The chief priests and elders make their decision to arrest Jesus and kill him (vv. 3-5).
    2. Judas offers his services, strikes a deal, and lies in wait for the right time (vv. 14-16).
    3. Judas is exposed by Jesus in the upper room and quickly leaves (vv. 20-25).
    4. Judas carried out the betrayal in Gethsemane (vv. 47-50).
    5. Judas is filled with remorse and destroys himself (27:1-10).
  4. In your analysis of the thirty pieces of silver, check out a couple of references that provide insight: Exodus 21:32 explains this is the price to pay when your bull gores someone; this was often the price of a slave in their culture; and this money was likely taken out of the temple treasury which was to be used for sacrifices (in Matt. 27:5-6 it seems Judas expected them to put it back there).
  5. Judas is a sad study-of how the wrong expectations of Christ can produce disillusionment, of how dangerous disillusionment can become, of how remorse is different from repentance, of how deals that we consider to be a bargain produce bankruptcy, and of how God can work his plan of redemption even through evil acts of people like Judas.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice ( Augsburg Fortress)

1. The prelude suggestions on the hymns "Christ, the Life of All the Living" and "Amazing Grace" can be found in the following sources:


  • Leupold, A.W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M).
  • Peeters, Flor (1966-Peters). Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M).


  • Organ, Anne Krentz. Christ, Mighty Savior. Augsburg 11-10819 [1997] (E-M).

AMAZING GRACE/ NEW BRITAIN PH 289, PsH 462, RL 456, RN 189, SFL 209, TH 460, TWC 502, UMH 378

  • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 1. Fred Bock B-G0548 [1980] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. The King of Love. SMP KK277 [1983] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E).
  • Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M).
  • Martin, Gilbert. Two Preludes on American Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GSTC 962 [1972] (E -M).


  • Albrecht, Mark. Timeless Hymns of Faith. Augsburg 11-10863 [1998] (E-M).
  • Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M).
  • Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound CPH 97-6891 [2000] (M; gospel style).
  • Sanborn, Jan. Piano Music for the Care of the Soul. Ron Harris RHP0403 [1997] (M).
  • Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983] (M-D).


  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Amazing Grace. Lake State HB 00067 [2000] (2-3 octaves, E-M).
  • Kauffmann, Ronald. Amazing Grace. Flammer HP-5207 [1986] (3 octaves, E-M).

2. The SATB anthem "When the Trumpet Sounds" by André Thomas is published by Mark Foster MF 261 [1985] (M). This anthem in gospel style takes some careful rhythmic preparation. Its text is very consistent with the spoken Call to Worship.

3. Offertory suggestions, both instrumental and choral, on "As Moses Raised the Serpent Up" and "God So Loved the World" can be found in the following sources:

GIFT OF LOVE/ O WALY WALY PH 94, 335; PsH 219; RN 155; SNC 204; SFL 165; TH 597; TWC 392, 499, 593; UMH 408, 643; WOV 749

  • Diemer, Emma Lou (1993). Augsburg Organ Library - Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003].
  • Powell, Robert J. Sing a New Song. Augsburg 11-10766 [1996].
  • Wood, Dale. Wood Works on International Folk Hymns. Sacred Music Press 70/1070 S [1995].


  • Carter, John. Today's Hymns and Songs for Piano. Hope 244 [1995].
  • Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996].


  • Wagner, Douglas E. God So Loved the World. Beckenhorst HB67 [1987] (3 octaves, E-M).

SATB Choral Anthem:

  • Stainer, John. God So Loved the World. Schirmer 3798 (E-M).

4. Because spirituals were passed on through aural/oral tradition, we have taken the liberty to craft verses on "Were You There" that tie in with the theme and sermon.

5. The SATB anthem "I Wonder Why?" arranged by Lloyd Pfautsch is published by Agape AG7104 [1972] (E-M). This anthem gives some direction for the congregation's reflection on the message they have just heard.

6. You may wish to consider using different settings of "Were You There" for the postlude throughout Lent. You will find many suggestions here. We are also giving suggestions for "Hail, O Once Despised Jesus" as an alternate for this particular service.

WERE YOU THERE PH 102, PsH 377, SFL 167, TH 260, TWC 218, UMH 288

  • Callahan, Charles. A Lenten Suite. Morningstar MSM-10-312 [1991] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Lent-Easter. Summa SP-112 [1998] (E-M).
  • Diemer, Emma Lou (1975). Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M).
  • Diemer, Emma Lou. Celebration. Augsburg 11-9097 [1975] (E-M).
  • Page, Anna Laura. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Boardman 4570-46 [1981] (E).
  • Purvis, Richard. Eleven Pieces for the Church Organ. MCA Music 03257-068 [1957] (M).
  • Stearns, Peter Pindar. Eight Hymn Preludes for Lent. Flammer HF-5133 [1985] (E-M).
  • Wood, Dale. Wood Works. SMP KK357 [1986] (E-M).
  • Young, Gordon. Hymn Preludes for the Church Service. Flammer 4188 [1964] (E).


  • Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity 70/1194U [1998] (M).
  • Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M).
  • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns . . . Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (E-M).


  • McChesney, Kevin. Were You There. Lorenz HB-363 [1991] (3-5 octaves, E-M).

ARFON PH 99, 501; PsH 395; TH 250; UMH 541


  • Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M).
  • Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H.W. Grey GB643 [1978] (E).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. You will notice that the Service of Renewal is the same as last week. This will remain a standard part of the service throughout Lent with only the Gospel reading changing each week. Familiarity, especially in confession, is helpful for the meditative spirit of Lent. We encourage you to ask the congregation to stand for the Gospel reading as was often the case in the historic church.
  2. The Children's Moment is placed immediately before the sermon so that it can be an opportunity to speak to the kids about liturgical functions. Focus, for instance, on the prayer for illumination. Why do we have it here? Why do we need to pray for illumination? (What is illumination?) What should we pray for in this prayer? Do you think the pastor has prayed while he wrote his sermon? It would be a nice conclusion to this time to actually pray the prayer for illumination with the children.
  3. The Scripture reading includes excerpts from Matthew 26. It would be helpful to explain the intent of this reading before you begin. Make the worshipers aware that we are aiming to watch for the actions of Judas in these excerpts. Two or more readers could be included, with each reading a different portion of the chapter.
  4. We have suggested the Nicene Creed as an affirmation of faith after the sermon. You may select another creed or passage of testimony. In any case, during this season it is important for the body of Christ to reaffirm its faith together as a response to the message of the Word of God.