These Holy Week reflections will be available beginning at 5:00 PM each day through the FCC Facebook page and on the FCC website. The purpose is simple: to invite you to read, reflect and pray. It’s all part of the work of preparing ourselves for what is coming and discovering once more the truth that is found within the most difficult story of our faith.
21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After he received the piece of bread,[i]Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”
What is the worst kind of betrayal? Is it the spouse who betrays a partner through an affair? Is it the friend who stabs you in the back when you least expect it, or the boss at work you trusted who suddenly turns on you. Betrayals come in many shapes and sizes and the worst part is that all of us will experience them. When they happen there is at first surprise, and then doubt that what just happened really happened. Then comes the pain, reality sets in as the trust that had been so strong and reassuring gives way to a wound that’s hard to heal.
I don’t know what Jesus really thought about his betrayal by Judas, but the text says his spirit was “troubled.” For three years he had laughed, suffered, taught, walked, and grieved with the men who dined with him that night. Together they had become brothers, family, and trusted companions. You can imagine the surprise around the table when Jesus began saying that one of them would betray him. This was no ordinary night either. Just before talk of betrayal began, Jesus had washed the feet of his friends. He used that moment, as he often did, to teach them about what it means to live as a servant to others.
This would not be the first time Jesus would face betrayal. Peter would go on to deny him three times. The crowds who welcomed him into Jerusalem with palms waiving in the air would demand, a few days later, that he be crucified. And as Jesus hung on the cross his disciples would scatter in fear.
Woven through the many betrayals this week would bring is the same spirit of forgiveness that was at the heart of all that Jesus did. Maybe you have heard about the seven last words of Jesus on the cross. The very first of the seven are those of forgiveness. In Luke 24:34, Jesus looks down from the cross and says “Forgive them father, they know not what they do.”
The God who became our Emmanuel in Jesus understands the many deep pains of life because he has experienced them too. God understands the sting of betrayal and still responds with words of forgiveness. To forgive like this does mean to excuse the betrayer but to release the power that the wound of betrayal can have in our lives. Forgiveness gives the cross meaning and every time we do it, the power of the cross is made real today. If you are still burdened by the pain of a betrayal perhaps it’s time to move toward forgiveness, to release the power this wound has over your life and be free.
Pray: Holy God, give us the power to forgive those who have betrayed us so that we might find the freedom in life to serve you more completely. Amen