As I write this, it is Thursday of Easter week. This was the night Jesus was betrayed.
Have you ever been betrayed?
It is a terrible feeling, and one of the most difficult things in life to deal with. In fact, it can become a “root of bitterness” (Heb. 12:15), a poison that corrupts everything in our lives, even the good things. A sense of betrayal can easily become the centerpiece of our thoughts, our emotions, our inner life.
There’s no better place to look than Jesus to know how we should live and to find the power to do it. So when you feel betrayed, consider doing these three things we learn from the betrayal of Jesus.
Trust God, Not Your Feelings
Feelings are fickle. They can’t be trusted. Yet most people do almost everything with the motivation of feeling happier or feeling better.
Jesus did not feel like doing what He did after He was betrayed. He cried out to His Father for another way because He felt the horror and the sorrow of the cross (Luke 22:42).
Yet He acted according to His Father’s will, not His own feelings. And He went forward and died for us.
When I feel betrayed, I am tempted to make my feelings about it the god of my life. So “feeling better” leads me around like a master.
Instead, I have the choice to let God be God. And He is an expert at transforming betrayal into redemption and reconciliation!
The first thing Jesus did after He was betrayed was to heal someone. Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, and Jesus healed him (Luke 22:50-51). Peter’s response to betrayal was self-defense and retaliation. Christ’s was to bring love and life to others even as He died to self.
Once, when I felt betrayed and falsely accused, a friend gave me good counsel. He said, “John, don’t forget, you are worse than they think you are!”
Even if I am right when I feel betrayed—even if I’ve been treated unfairly—the truth is that whoever has betrayed me can’t begin to know what a mess I actually am (Jeremiah 17:9). There is nothing good at all in me that is not from the grace of God alone.
So it’s a foolish waste of time to focus on how unfairly I’ve been treated. The better course is to join Jesus on His healing mission.
Joy never comes from contemplating the wounds other people cause, but it does come from healing the wounds they have. So when you feel betrayed, go find someone to serve.
Go find someone to love. Go find someone to encourage. Go find someone and share the story of the One who was betrayed for them.
Join the Beautiful Betrayal
Dictionary.com says that one definition of betrayal is “to disappoint the hopes or expectations.” When Jesus was betrayed, He felt the human feelings we feel.
But according to Hebrews 12:2, He “despised” (thought little of, scorned, depreciated) those feelings. He didn’t enjoy the feelings, but He endured the cross for the JOY set before Him.
He knew that death itself was about to be betrayed. All the hopes and expectations of the devil and death were about to be crushed!
When you feel betrayed, aren’t you tempted to want to see justice done to your betrayers? Isn’t it easy to want to gloat over them and be able to say, “See, look at you, you got what you deserve!”?
But what a sad life that would be—to live life focused on the temporary hurts done to us instead of the eternal joy won for us!
Instead, gloat over the right enemy. Rejoice over the right victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
Stop right now where you are and begin to praise God that death was betrayed! Thank Him that He loved you enough to Himself be the betrayer of death. Choose to daily walk the road of rejoicing in that life instead of heading down the dead-end street of bitterness.
This Easter, take all your feelings of betrayal to a graveyard, and leave them at an empty tomb. And as you walk away, with every step trust God, not your feelings. Start looking immediately for someone on your path you can help to heal.
And as you sing “Christ the Lord is risen today!” smile and remember that the beautiful betrayal of death has buried forever your need to live in the bitterness of your own betrayal.
Click here to read an Easter message from John’s wife, Donna Avant.