An Honest Journey
Forgive As He Forgave Us

Forgive As He Forgave Us

Jesus & Toxic People: Part 3 (Betrayal)

Hi, friends. This is Part 3 of a 4 Part Series on the toxicity that lies within “Betrayal”. If you would like to first check out Part 1, please click HERE. For part 2, click HERE.

If you’d like to check out the other posts written last year on responding to toxic people, you can check those out HERE.

Jesus & Betrayal

Looking at Jesus’ time on earth, He experienced immense betrayal by those closest to him. Judas exchanged money for the whereabouts of Jesus (Mark 14:10-11). And Peter, who at one moment said he would stand by Jesus no matter what, later denied knowing Him three times (Mark 14:66-72). Beyond Jesus’ closest friends betraying Him, the government, its people, and the religious leaders all betrayed Jesus.

Why is this significant? Because Jesus can relate to the deepest emotional pain and loneliness within our darkest hours of betrayal, and yet He did not sin.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet he did not sin.

Hebrews 4:15 NIV

Our Savior’s example of how to respond to betrayal is the ultimate example of how we should respond to it.

What can we learn from Christ’s response to betrayal?

It’s easy to respond in the flesh, especially when we are hurt or angry. It can be difficult to set those emotions aside. Jesus experienced this same temptation at the height of His betrayals. But instead of turning to His own will, He set His will aside for His Father’s.

Jesus was extremely distressed about His coming crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. He understood the torment that was to come, including abandonment and betrayal by those closest to Him.

In His time of affliction, Christ first devoted Himself to prayer. He turned to God the Father for help, reassurance, and encouragement in His time of need.

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:44 NIV

Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!

Matthew 26:41 NLT

Jesus understood the many temptations that would come during this time, and He persistently prayed for His cup of suffering to be taken from Him.

But God did remove our Lord’s suffering.

So, why was it necessary for Jesus to pray?

While Jesus still had to take on the punishment for our sins through the harshest circumstances known to man, the Lord sent an angel to give Him encouragement and strengthened Him in His moment of distress (Luke 22:43). Christ shows us in His ultimate moments of despair, He depended on God the Father above all else. Through prayer, God reminded Christ of His mission and spurred Him on.

It’s in our own darkest moments, that we also must lift up our hearts and pray to our Father in Heaven who hears our cries. He cares for us and desires for us to come to Him. While our pain and circumstances may not be taken away, prayer opens up an opportunity for God to work in our hearts- giving us wisdom, hope, and encouragement when we need it most. In prayer, we are reminded that God the Father is in control and we are not; we are completely reliant on Him.

Through Christ’s full reliance on God the Father, we see how Jesus did not resort to revenge. It’s amazing to read how Jesus continued to call Judas His “friend” right before Judas turned Him over to the authorities to be arrested. Jesus was fully aware of why Judas had left at the last supper and why he had come back- to betray Him. Yet, Christ continued to treat him well.

Jesus replied, ‘Do what you came for, friend.’ Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.

Matthew 26:50 NIV

Because Jesus’ mind was set on the Kingdom of God, He trusted Judas into the hands of God the Father and held no ill will toward him. How Judas later responded in suicide, showed how he was flooded with shame and guilt by his betrayal but never turned back to God in repentance for what he had done. Judas thought he couldn’t be forgiven, as he turned more inward rather than back to God in his sin and pain.

From Jesus’ example of how He responded to Judas, we must recognize that God will be the judge for each person, and each person has to take responsibility for his or her actions. It is not up to us to shame, ridicule, or respond in vengeance for wrongs done against us. It is our responsibility to continue to put our trust in Jesus and live out our faith. When we do that, we can move forward in forgiveness as Jesus has done for each one of us.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head’.

Romans 12:19-20 NIV

Back in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is also tempted in another way when He is approached by Judas, the Roman soldiers, and the religious leaders. Christ is tempted to give in to anger toward Judas’ betrayal. Instead, we see Peter respond in anger and Jesus chose to respond differently,

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’

John 18:10-11 NIV

Christ refused to give in to anger. Jesus immediately rebuked Peter’s fleshly response and then healed the priest’s servant’s ear. Christ’s response to His betrayer and to His arrest was based on what He was focused on- the Kingdom of God. His emotions took a back seat to His obedience and trust in God the Father.

Ultimately, Jesus shows us we are to forgive our betrayers, just as He forgave us. As Jesus was dying on the cross from a painful Roman crucifixion, taking on the weight and punishment for our sins, He exclaimed,

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Luke 23:34 NIV

Christ forgave all of us of our sins against God, every single one. He instructs us to forgive anyone we are holding a grudge against.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Mark 11:25 NIV

If we think of the greater picture of betrayal from the beginning of time, each one of us has rebelled against God and inherited our sinful nature from Adam’s initial betrayal in the garden. Each time we turn away from God in sin, we are rebelling and betraying our Father in heaven. But when we come before God in repentance, knowing and believing that Christ took on the punishment for our sin, we are forgiven thanks to God’s mercy. When God looks to each believer, He does not see our sins, He sees His Son who gave us a clean slate.

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17 NIV

If we hold on to betrayals or any past hurts without surrendering them to God, we will develop bitterness and contempt for others. God doesn’t hold on to our sins, so we should not hold on to the sins others have committed against us. That’s not to say that we won’t be tempted to do this, but we are to follow Jesus’ lead and forgive.

In forgiveness, Christ instructs us to pray for our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44 NIV). When we are tempted to hold anger or bitterness against those who have hurt us, we can surrender those feelings and that temptation to God. We can be reminded that we’ve forgiven that person in Jesus’ name.

Despite all this, what does moving forward look like in a relationship with a betrayer? Does a lack of reconciliation also mean a lack of forgiveness? Or is forgiveness something different than reconciliation? Does God ask us to stay with those who continue to use, abuse, or betray our trust? God shows us specific examples of boundaries and consequences of betrayal through His Word.

**Stay tuned for Part 4 on “Does Forgiveness Always Mean Reconciliation?”**

Part 3 Reflection Questions:

  1. How did Jesus respond to betrayal?
  2. How was Jesus’ response to betrayal different than Peter’s?
  3. Why is it easier to respond in anger or take revenge when I’ve been wronged?
  4. Does prayer always mean God will “save me from my troubles”? Why or why not?
  5. Why is prayer important in my relationship with God?
  6. Is it easy to forgive others who have hurt me? Why or why not?
  7. How have I betrayed God?
  8. How has God forgiven me?
  9. How does God instruct us to respond to those who have hurt us?

Photo by Italo Melo:

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