The Sting of Betrayal

John 13:21
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, That one of you shall betray me.

Perhaps the most wretched character in this whole series of events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus is Judas Iscariot.  Yes, the Pharisees plotted and planned and desired to kill Jesus, but they didn’t hide how they felt.  They were openly hostile.  They took up stones to cast at Him.  They accused Him of things He didn’t do.  They tried to undermine Him many times.  But it was well-known that the Jews sought to kill Jesus.  That conflict played out more in the public arena.

But Judas was that pretender, that wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Judas went along as if he were a true follower, as if he believed.  He was part of the group that was closest to Jesus.  They had built a different kind of relationship than Jesus had had with the Pharisees.  They broke bread together and traveled together and ministered together.  And now, after all of that, comes a moment where Judas is willing to sell Jesus out to the enemy.

Just because Jesus knew about it ahead of time didn’t mean it didn’t bother Him.  Even though it was said in Scripture and Jesus knew it was part of the plan, it was still hurtful.  Jesus was fully God and fully man, so He experienced pain and human emotion.  And it hurts to be betrayed.  It hurts to be let down by one considered a friend.  It troubled Jesus for Judas to devise such a plan in his heart and to be the one responsible for delivering Him into the hands of those who would ensure He was put to death.  Those are the kinds of wounds that can go deep.

And the truth is, we are all capable of betraying someone else and being betrayed by someone we love.  We’ll all face those kinds of hurtful situations, but how do we respond to them?  Let’s look to Jesus as our example.  Though He was hurt, He did not try to hurt others and retaliate and get revenge.  He was still gracious and kind and merciful.  And though Judas had betrayed Him, Jesus never disowned him.  In fact, He knew everything about all of His disciples all along the way.  He knew how each would fail Him, but He didn’t stop loving them, teaching them, and trying to help them.  So when we are hurt by someone close, may we have a forgiving spirit, a gracious attitude, and a heart of love even as we endure the hurt that comes with betrayal.

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