Betrayal and Forgiveness

peter_walking_on_water2Have you ever wondered how Christ must have felt when He was betrayed by His own Apostles?   They were the people He loved and were the closest to Him.  They knew Him better than anyone or so one would think.  They ate, slept, traveled and were taught by Him.  They were true followers of Christ so how is it they could betray Him on that night that He was delivered up?

In 1 Peter 5:8 Peter says to be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.   It looks to me like a spirit of fear had entered them and that they were experiencing a lack of faith.  That lack of faith also reminds me of the scripture when Peter was walking on the water, once Peter took his eyes off of Christ he lost his focus and began to sink.

Matthew 14:29-31

29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Getting back to betrayal and forgiveness I know that if we live long enough in this life we will at some point be hurt and disappointed in someone or possibly even hurt someone ourselves.  Christ taught to not be the cause of hurt and disappointment but instead He challenged Peter in the following scripture.

John 13:38 Jesus answered Peter, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

It brings to mind something that happened during the Columbine shooting when one of the girls was asked if she was a Christian and her reply was “yes.”  She was then shot and killed for standing up for her belief in her Savior Jesus Christ.  Could you have given that answer knowing that it might lead to your death?  Are you prepared to lay down your life for someone you love, forsake family to follow Christ and stand up for what you believe?  I hope that everyone can say emphatically “yes”.  But the truth is no one knows what they will actually say or do when they are faced with such a situation.  Even Christ knowing the brutal death He was going to go through asked His Father in Matthew 26:39 “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 

Notice that Christ said not His will but as His Father wills it.

When betrayal comes I think of these scriptures where Christ said that He didn’t come to give peace on earth but rather to divide in Luke 12:51-53

51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.

52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.

53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” 

And in Mark 13:12-13 Mark records Christ own words.

12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.

13 And you will be hated by all men for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

It’s kind of hard to imagine that those who said they loved Christ denied even knowing Him!  Yet when the Apostles were afraid for their own lives or feared what might happen if they stood up for Christ they in fact did deny Him.  I’ve often asked myself how they could do this when they walked with Christ daily.  Could you or I have done any better?  Probably Not!  It’s clear to me that the Apostles didn’t have the Faith that Christ and His Father could protect and deliver them.

So let’s look at what the word “Betray” means.  In Strong’s concordance in the Greek it is pronounced NT:3860 paradidomi (par-ad-id’-o-mee); from NT:3844 and NT:1325; to surrender, i.e yield up, intrust, transmit: or in the KJV – betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up), hazard, put in prison, recommend.

When I think of the word betrayal the emotions that it invokes in me is hurt, anger, denial, rejection, grief, heartache, despair, sadness, emptiness and great disappointment.  Is that possibly what Christ felt on the night of His betrayal?  The difference is Christ didn’t sin and we shouldn’t either.

I often recall a line from a sermon that when evil thoughts come into your mind “Just send it on through.”  Meaning, don’t dwell on it or it can become cancerous to you or it can become a root of bitterness and possibly infect others.  We too can let all those emotions that I mentioned earlier overcome us and render us useless as a servant of God.

Rather than focus on the negativity of betrayal we need to focus on the relief brought about through forgiveness.

So how many times do we forgive our brother?  In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter was asking Christ how often he should forgive his brother when he sins against him.  Peter thought he was saying a generous number by saying seven times.

In verse 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Notice what Christ said in Verse 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

What Christ is saying is that no matter how many times you have been wronged or hurt you must forgive them.  Maybe you have actually been wronged; hurt or have let your imagination get the best of you,  whether it was by a loved one, family member, co-worker or a close friend we are to forgive them or our own sins won’t be forgiven.  We have to ask our Father in Heaven for forgiveness and to forgive those that have trespassed against us in order for us to heal, grow and mature in Godly character.  Hence the trials we go through.  Just as Christ was speaking in part of the model prayer on forgiveness in Matthew 6:12-15

12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Did you catch that in verse 15?  Let me repeat it for you.  Christ said if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.  Makes you think doesn’t it.

There is an important lesson in this for all of us and that is to count your trials as joy.  While betrayal seems almost unforgivable, if Jesus Christ can do it we need to learn to do it as well.

James tells us in 1:2-4

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

So you ask yourself how do I rejoice in my trials.  How does anyone rejoice in their trials?  I know it’s easier said than done.  We can take one minute, one hour and one day at a time to reflect on all the good that God has done for us and not dwell on the negative because that is what Satan wants us to do.  Remember “Send it on through”.  We can thank God every day that He called and chose you and me to come out of this world to become a begotten child of God.  What greater family could anyone want than being in the Family of God?

By honoring God the Father and the Son we can remember and practice Christ’s example that He has set for us to love our enemies in Matthew 5:44-48

44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

It’s clearer to me now having gone through my own past experiences and those that others have shared with me that we can learn from Peter’s words that he was ashamed and possibly even guilt ridden for betraying the one person whom he loved when he wept and remembered the words that Christ said to him.  In Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

Even Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ was remorseful and hung himself on a tree in Matthew 27:3-5

3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”

5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Now do you have a better picture of how Christ may have felt when he was betrayed on that night?  Through all of the hurt, betrayal and rejection Christ was our perfect Savior because He didn’t sin, He forgave not only the Apostles but all those who had a part in His death. I ask you can we follow His example and let go of all our past hurts by forgiving others as well as ourselves.  Yes, we are still flesh and blood and imperfect in this life today but when we forgive others and ourselves we are fulfilling the very words of Christ.

These very scriptures are where I find great comfort and yes, even joy and I hope you can to.  I look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and the Coming Kingdom of God.

In Revelation 21:4-5   We can pray for the day to come when in verse 4 God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

What greater comfort can we have than those very words when we are going through betrayal and trials?  Pray thy Kingdom Come!

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