THE STING OF BETRAYAL - PART 2
Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
I said yesterday that the act of betrayal is a dreadful and hurtful experience. My guess is that you have felt the sting of betrayal at some point in your life. If you haven’t, you probably will. We can feel betrayed by our spouse, our children, our extended family, or our friends. We can also experience betrayal in the context of our work—from our boss, our co-workers, or even our employees. It has the potential to ruin friendships and families.
The Bible tells about Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. It’s a well known story in the New Testament of a follower of Jesus who was greatly respected and loved by Jesus. He was highly trusted in the small group of disciples with Jesus, and was the Treasurer and he carried the money bag. They trusted him to do the right thing. Judas had experienced everything that the other disciples had. He had been there to pass out food to the 5000 people that Jesus fed with a few fish and some bread. He had seen Lazarus raised back to life. He had seen Jesus heal the blind and the lame and the deaf. He had been a part of all that. And on the night of his betrayal, Jesus had washed his feet. He had shared the Passover meal with Jesus. Jesus had placed him in the most favoured spot at the table – right next to Jesus. Judas had been a part of all the blessings that came along with being with Jesus. That night would have been a spiritual high point for anyone who was present there. And yet, Judas still chose to walk away into the night of his own sin. He knowingly betrayed Jesus at that critical moment which led to His death on a cross, all for money. Every time that Judas’ name is mentioned in the Bible, either the passage is dealing with the events surrounding his betrayal, or the phrase, “who betrayed him” is attached to his name. Judas Iscariot – the one who betrayed Jesus. We know nothing good about this man. But the other disciples, who ran away from Jesus when He needed them most, their betrayal is never mentioned again beyond the record of the actual event. Why? Because they received forgiveness and restoration. The past, as dark as it was, was wiped away. We read that Judas went out one night and hung himself. What a tragedy!
How ironic it is that Jesus was betrayed not by a stranger, but by a close friend. Judas had eaten bread with Jesus, and he had done that many times. Judas had eaten bread with Jesus at Lazarus’ house and at Zachheous’ house. They had enjoyed fish grilled over the fire on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. To eat bread – a meal – with someone was to indicate your closeness to that person. It showed your agreement with one another in lifestyle and beliefs. That’s why Jesus was criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners and why Jews were forbidden to eat with Gentiles.
There’s a wonderful story about the cardinal of the Philippines, named, oddly enough, Cardinal Sin. When Cardinal Sin was a bishop, a young woman in his parish claimed that she had visions of Jesus. Bishop Sin was given the task of determining if these visions were authentic. He called her in for an interview, after which he made this request: “Daughter, the next time you see Jesus, would you ask Him what sin your bishop committed as a young priest and then come and tell me His answer.” She agreed. The bishop, aware that nobody knew his sin except himself, his confessor, and Jesus, felt this would be a valid test. Months later the young woman returned, reporting she had seen Jesus again. The bishop said, “Good. Did you ask Him about my sin?” She said, “Yes,” “What did He say?” “He said, ‘I’ve forgotten.’”
Would it have been any different for Judas? Of course not! I refuse to believe otherwise! Judas’ betrayal did not cause Christ to love him less. It was for sinners like Judas that He was about to give His life!
So, how are we to respond to those who betray us? Our calling and God’s command of us is to forgive those who sin against us—and is there any better description of betrayal? We must let go of our hurts and wounds, and refuse to nurse them in anger and resentment. Chances are, the deepest betrayals will demand an ongoing commitment to forgiveness—for, in our humanness, we often find it difficult to let go of such things all at once. Resentment and bitterness has a way of continuing to raise its ugly head, continually trying to draw us into its trap once again. My own experience is that it’s a day-by-day process, an ongoing entrusting to the Lord of our feelings and the situations with a refusal to give in to bitterness. The Lord knows that our hurts will consume us and destroy us, if we let them—and He is our greatest ally in our determination to let go of such wounds.
One way in which we’re helped in this process is to dare to remember the ways in which we, in our sin, have betrayed Christ ourselves. We might also remind ourselves of the ways in which we have surely left others feeling betrayed. We dare not be too smug in refusing to forgive those we feel have betrayed us. And in seeing all of this through Resurrection eyes, the disciples of Jesus were all too aware of their own guilt of jealousy, selfish ambitions, denial and defection from Christ. They were surely humbled in acknowledging their own failures—just as we might also be as we commit to resolving our own responses to those who have betrayed us.
So, how are we to deal with the sting of betrayal? As sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, we are called to respond with forgiveness. Because our sins have also been forgiven, we are called to be part of God’s redemptive work in the lives of others. With the help of the Lord, we can learn to let go of our feelings of bitterness and resentment, trusting such things into the hands of the Lord. We can move on with our lives, set free from that which would destroy us from within. And, with the help of the Lord, we can learn to trust again, though perhaps more wisely and more discriminately. And as we do, we focus our energies in pouring out our lives for the sake of others, just as Jesus did. It’s the way not only to blessing others, but also the way to be truly blessed ourselves.
Source: Chris Witts