In reading portions of the Gospels, particularly the journey to the cross, one word pricked my heart. Betray. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about it – the definition, even the sound as I spoke it aloud. Be-tray… Be traded… Not that far from the definition of the word. Judas traded Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Peter traded Him for his reputation and life. The thing about betrayal is that strangers can’t do it. Only friends, family or countrymen can – people who have been and are assumed still loyal to the betrayed.
The pain of betrayal surprises and stings. That friend who suddenly won’t speak to you, talks behind your back, lies about you or grossly let’s you down. That is betrayal. But check yourself, because the log of betrayal is probably in your own eye. I’ve been yanking splinters out of mine for a while. We are all betrayers who have been betrayed.
The word betray means to hand over to another, to turn against someone. Whenever I get so irritated with a loved one that I speak negative words about them (or to them), I have handed them over to the enemy. When I decide to withdraw love, respect, or communication I hand them over to others to meet those needs. And usually what happens is they become so hurt that they (or I) retaliate in kind. Then we all have a great big betrayal party – huzzah, poison drinks all around!
Honestly, Jesus was handed a series of the worst betrayals that could be imagined. One close friend betrayed him to death – with a kiss. Another denied him publicly – with curses added. The rest of His friends returned to their old lives – prefering hopeless stories. While the very Bride he came to woo shouted for his death and traded him in for a murderous convict. Even Pilate, who pronounced His innocence, betrayed him, not only ordering the deadly deed but handing him over to be mocked and flogged as well. No one I know can say they have suffered such betrayal in the course of 24 hours.
But in that stinging place is where victory happened, in the midst of all the unjust handing over, Jesus made a choice to cry out to his Father, not for vengeance, but for forgiveness. That his Dad would understand that these people were broken. He asked His Daddy to forgive the betrayers because they didn’t understand the damage they were causing. Can we, will we, be able to see what Jesus saw while being betrayed? …Rabid people who needed a healing vaccine, not those who need to be put down.
The vaccine is Jesus’ blood. And the only way to extract it is through His death. The only way to administer the blood is through forgiveness and trusting that His resurrection power lays in the vaccine.
Many moons ago, I became friends with the assistant pastor and his wife at the church we were attending. They were new in town and had 8 children, too many cats, a tiny car, and they struggled to make ends meet. Our children played together, we studied the Word together and broke bread together regularly.
I introduced them to someone one who was going to do missions work, and he was willing to let my friends rent his van. I introduced them to my dentist, who gave them a great rate for their whole family. During a couple emergency hospital visits, our family was there for them. And they were there for us too.
Unfortunately, something tragic happened to one of their children while in church. They had been betrayed by the church leadership, and I was there to witness the pain. I felt their anguish as they had to confront leadership concerning the issue.
One broken and bitter christian, broke my friends. They became broken and bitter. I became broken and bitter. We were rabid people infecting other people.
My friend and I talked on the phone daily. One day, I called and the phone had been disconnected. (This was before cell phones.) I called the next day, and the next. So I drove to their house and make sure all was okay. When I got there,the house was empty, trashed, a broken tv was in their yard. There was no sign of them.
I never heard from them. To make it worse, a month later I did hear from my dentist and the friend renting them the van. They had never been paid, did I know where they lived? I was crushed and bitterness oozed out of me. I couldn’t trust our church leaders and I couldn’t trust my friends.
Needless to say we left that church and went elsewhere. It took a year of healing for me. And a year later, out of the blue, the week my third child was born, I received a phone call. It was my friend. She congratulated me on the birth of my baby girl and filled me in on what they had been doing. No good explanation or apology for running away. Just like we were supposed to pick up where we left off. She just kept talking about her new life and how wrong the pastor had been. If I weren’t recovering from childbirth, I would have told her off.
As she continued, the Lord, just came over me and asked me how much longer I wanted to spend recovering from the bitter past? Another year, a lifetime? I had a choice to give Him the bitterness and forgive her, the old pastor and church leadership. I had a choice, yes or no.
It’s not easy living when you are bitter, there is always some sewage that seeps out of that kind of heart. The smell stays with you and no one wants to be around it, including you. So as suddenly and out of the blue as she had called me, I gave God my heart and said to her, “– I forgive you.” She hadn’t asked for it, but I meant it. She had been broken and the only way for her to be fixed was to hear the words from me and feel the forgiveness of God.
Every year after that she would call on my birthday (she never gave me her new number) and I would smile as I could see her healing from the past. And best of all I had grown and healed and could see pain in others that I couldn’t see before.
I’m not saying I never partake of the bitterness that comes from betrayal, but I see the poison a lot quicker now and reach for the vaccine. And if I am the betrayer? I still reach for the vaccine to ask for forgiveness from the wounded as I also learn to forgive myself.
Sorry this is a long blog.