Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Betrayal of Jesus

Photo Courtesy of: Scott Rodgerson

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”…..Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

                                                                                       —Matthew 26:1-5, 15-16

It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus intentionally chose Judas Iscariot to be one of His disciples during His earthly ministry, when He knew full well that the day would come in which Judas would betray Him. And we aren’t even just talking here about a betrayal like that of which Peter was guilty—that of telling someone he wasn’t Christ’s disciple when, in reality, he had been. No, this was a betrayal of mammoth proportions, a betrayal that would lead not only to Jesus’ capture and arrest, but ultimately to His death.

Imagine the gut-wrenching depth of a betrayal like this one. Here was someone whom you had chosen to be a part of your community and your mission, someone with whom you had truly done life for three years. And what happens? He not only betrays you and betrays you in a way that leads to your death, but he does so in a sarcastic, snide, and humiliating way. Can you imagine going through something like that? Can you imagine the depth of pain and loss, the sense of betrayal, the feeling that these men with whom you had journeyed through life so closely for the last few years are actually acting as nothing more than fair-weather friends—and one of them truly is? It’s unfathomable. And yet, it is precisely what Jesus experienced in order to fulfill the Scriptures and obtain our salvation. That, my friend, is how much He loves you and is willing to experience for your sake!

I don’t know if you have ever experienced the betrayal of a friend or other loved one, but if you have, chances are you have been tempted to strive for perfection, to bend over backward to do anything you possibly can to win them back, to please them, to make everything okay. Or perhaps your striving has taken on a different form. You have been striving to forget about them, striving to hold bitterness in your heart so that you don’t even have to think about possibly forgiving them. You have been striving to journey through life without them or at least without the pain that regularly surfaces when you think about them.

This Lenten season, may I encourage you to cease your striving in this area as well? If you are busy looking for the answer to your problems within your own bitterness or within your own “perfection,” may I encourage you to lay that all down at the feet of Jesus and be freed from those feelings and that striving once and for all? Jesus wants rest, freedom, an easy yoke, and a light burden for you (see Matthew 11:28-30). And He knows that will only come from your doing life His way.

If your struggle is one of striving for perfection, there are several helpful passages for you. One would be Philippians 3:4b-11:

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Your striving for perfection is worthless and not that to which God has called you. If that is your response to someone’s betrayal, it’s time to let it go.

Conversely, if you struggle with a lack of forgiveness, Romans 12:19-21 is for you:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 6:14-15 is another to consider:

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This may seem to be an impossible mission, but if you purpose in your heart to forgive the one who has betrayed you, you will have strength through Christ and His gift of the Holy Spirit to walk that path of grace and forgiveness as He has called you to do. You are never alone in your mission to do what’s right.

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