PART FOUR: Devoted to Denied ...
When reflecting on the betrayal of Jesus, many might think Jesus was surprised by the betrayal of His closest friends. Still, I believe He knew what was possible. Although He was assured of their love, He also knew of their weaknesses. The future challenges His twelve friends faced would confront their faith like nothing had before.
"Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted, and they promised to give him money. So he agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus." Luke 22:3-6
Imagine living on the road for three years with twelve friends who travel with you while you teach and minister together. What a mission trip that would be! Jesus gathered a crew to be with Him as He carried out the plans of Father God. They traveled, explored, and encountered a great deal together. I imagine they were more than His friends and more like a tight-knit family. With those kinds of devoted friendships and the love of Jesus in their midst, would you predict any sort of surfacing betrayal?
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers." Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you." But Jesus said, "Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me." Luke 2:30-34
Peter thought he was fortified in his faith to the point of facing death. I'm sure he considered himself an entirely devoted follower and friend. A leader of Jesus' crew, one who had influence over the others, was told in front of everyone that he would betray Jesus three times. Peter never saw himself as one who would betray Jesus, yet it happened.
"But Peter said, 'Man, I don't know what you are talking about.' And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment, the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord's words flashed through Peter's mind: 'Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.' And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. "Luke 22:60-62
Jesus faced the betrayal of close friends.
Jesus understands being abandoned, deserted, denied, and betrayed by cherished friends. The fact is that ALL of the twelve devoted disciples rejected Jesus. Jesus loved his friends unconditionally, yet they abandoned Him.
"On the way, Jesus told them, 'Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, 'God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'" Matthew 26:31
Zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection
As in to refute, to declare not to be true.
As in to refuse, to be unwilling to grant
It's strange how a zealous friendship can go from loyalty to refusal. We can do better and push past the betrayal to gain victory. Jesus didn't endure all the persecution, rejection, and pain at the cross for us to ignore His triumph. He is an illustration of what we can have in our own relationships.
Have you ever had a treasured friendship that ended abruptly in rejection, betrayal, or abandonment? Have you had a devoted friend who almost felt like family, but their words or actions hurt you deeply? Even though Jesus is fully aware of that kind of pain, He is also cognizant of the triumphant plans of His Father.
How did Jesus gain Victory after Betrayal?
God gives great gifts when He gives us our friends. God has an unfolding supernatural plan when He brings friends to us. We are to help each other gain stronger spiritual muscles and experience greater peace and hope. When we stay united, all this is possible. When we divide, the opposite is true.
"Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future." Ephesians 4:2-4 NLT
Paul shared this truth with the friends who made up the church of Ephesus. Through guidance from Holy Spirit, Paul urged them to be patient and loving to each other, to stay united even to the point of binding themselves to one another. He knew making allowances for their faults would bring challenges. Still, He knew there was a supernatural significance to it. God's glorious peace and hope would be present for those connected in one Spirit and as one body of believers.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NLT
Continuing to describe in more detail which behavior is evil and which will gain victory, Paul gave us tremendous insight. We can see the way to victory if we apply these verses to our friendships and look to Jesus as our example. Jesus was dedicated to His friends personally, knowing each had their own story. Jesus didn't tell them their sins were too much. Instead, He was devoted to them even when they weren't.
"Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end." John 13:1 NLT
What can we learn from Jesus' love and devotion? Jesus forgave His faulty crew, loved them unconditionally, and chose to keep His heart free from offense. Ask Holy Spirit to guide you as you ponder these verses.
"You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart." 1 Peter 1: 22
"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
How about you and your friendships?
Are there friends who you need to forgive like Jesus?
Are any bitterness, anger, or harsh words standing in the way of a friendship God put in your life?
STOP. Take a breath, or maybe three. Pause and give God an offering of your time. Allow Jesus to come to you right where you are. Allow Him to invade the eyes of your heart. Allow Him to speak and show you what He wants to reveal. Let Him come and minister. Allow Him to move freely and bring victory to hurt places in your heart. Let Him apply His love and power to move you past the betrayal and into His loving arms of peace, redemption, and victory!
[Picture Jesus in your mind as you pray.]
Pray and speak with Him... Jesus, thank you for how you allowed me to be cleansed of all unrighteousness. Your example of sincere love is more than I can do alone. I'm so grateful that you dwell inside me so I can love others deeply with my whole heart. Today, I choose to forgive my friend(s) who hurt me. I forgive him/her as you forgave me. I didn't deserve your forgiveness, but you freely gave it to me. Freely I receive, freely I give. I place all their sins under your great love and grace won at the Cross. I hand all my pain over to you and ask you to come and heal my wounded heart. You died for my salvation and my healing. Thank you for the victory won at the cross for me and my friends. I praise you and honor you as Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Sparkling Brooks Ministries
If you have missed Part 1, 2 or 3 of Betrayal Ending in Victory, click link below...