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Dealing with Betrayal

Posted: 4/12/19 at 4:20pm. Column by Ed Jordan.

We are quickly coming up to Easter, the time when we commemorate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But we can also gain insight from other events that Jesus went through during Holy Week.

One of the large motifs running through the last weeks of Jesus’ life is the theme of betrayal. Jesus came to bring us the love and life of God and to give his life for us. Yet in the midst of all this, he also experienced the pain of human betrayal.

John 1:11-12 (NASB95) states: “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…”

Have you ever been betrayed? Most of us have been, in some way or another, betrayed by someone. Sometimes we feel betrayed by an employer who promised one thing but broke their promise.

Why does betrayal hurt so deeply?

Sometimes we have betrayed others by not keeping our promises. All of us have felt rejection, and the more we’ve invested into a relationship, the more that rejection feels like betrayal.

Betrayal is not always a clear-cut thing. Is it possible to have been betrayed and not feel the pain of that? Yes. Sometimes we never know who betrayed us, yet we see evidence that indicates we’ve been betrayed.

Sometimes we don’t know we are betrayed until after the fact, and the things set in motion finally arrive on our doorstep. Are there times when we “feel” betrayed, but in reality we were not? Yes. Sometimes decisions are made which affect us in a hurtful way, but the decision was not made with us in mind.

Why does betrayal hurt so deeply? Mainly because betrayal is a breach of our trust and/or love. We don’t feel betrayal where we have not invested some significant part of our life.

Often, the more we have invested into the relationship, then the deeper the sense of betrayal we will feel when our trust is trampled. It hurts so badly because we had loved and trusted the person and they seemed not to value us nor our investment.

Jesus himself felt the sting and wounds of betrayal. Who would ever consider betraying someone as wonderfully loving as Jesus? Unfortunately every one of us, at some point has betrayed him. He gave his life for us. He gives and gives and gives out of love for us, and it seems we couldn’t care less. Sad, isn’t it?

Jesus came to his own ethnic group,his own religious group, and they rejected him. Not only did they reject him, they set him up to be crucified and killed by public execution, because he threatened their power—man-made religious rules and traditions.

There was a time in Jesus’ ministry when he taught his followers some difficult truths. As a result, some withdrew and didn’t follow him anymore (see John 6:60-71).

It was at this time Judas was identified as the one who would betray Jesus. As Jesus and his disciples partook of the Lord’s Supper, Judas got up from the table and left to betray Jesus and have him arrested. That day on the Christian calendar is called Maundy Thursday.

After supper, Jesus spent the night being mocked, beaten, interrogated, whipped, and condemned to die on Friday. And it was one of his inner core of disciples who chose to betray him.

So what can we do when we are betrayed? How can we recover from such a thing? We can follow the example of Jesus, who while on the cross, in the midst of the consequences of being betrayed, prayed: “Father, forgive them; for they don’t know what they are doing.”   

Allowing physical wounds to remain open and bleeding leads to potential infection. Open wounds need to be disinfected and sealed for healing.

Spiritually, the process is similar. Remove what caused the wound, ask God to clean out the wound, and to begin the healing process. Forgiveness does this.

When we forgive, we disengage from what wounded us. We let go of it and give it to God.

Forgiveness does not deny what a person did; it releases the person into God’s hands for him to deal with, and in that process forgiveness cleans out our wound so it doesn’t infect us with the poison of bitterness.

We are to forgive like Jesus has forgiven us. At this time of year, seek forgiveness from God for wrongs you have done to him, and give forgiveness to those who have hurt you.   

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.