Suffering Through a Betrayal

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Betrayal. An abandonment or violation of trust by someone close to you. A husband betrayed by his wife. An employee passed over for a promotion by an employer who had promised it. A secret between friends brought to light for all to see. A promise made to a child so easily broken by a parent. How do we deal with that inevitable betrayal that will affect us in our everyday lives of work and family?

In my own life, I was rejected and abandoned by someone very close to me, someone I trusted closely with secrets, struggles, and victories in life. The pain of the betrayal was intense, and I longed to be understood by colleagues and others close to me. But the expectation in the Christian community to have it altogether made the betrayal even more unbearable, especially as my life seemed so fragmented.

In a much more intense way, Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of the Jewish religious leaders. The mental anguish caused by the betrayal of Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples and closest friends, is an often overlooked aspect of Jesus’ suffering for us. He had invested in Judas. He loved Judas. He cared intensely for Judas. He was discouraged, just like we are in moments of betrayal. He hurt. Felt pain. Wept.

The preliminary stages of Judas’ betrayal are recorded in Matthew 26:14-16. Several questions come to mind, particularly as Judas’ actions fulfilled prophecy: Can Judas be held responsible for betraying Jesus when he was fulfilling prophecy? Did Judas become disillusioned with Jesus’ message and life because Jesus didn’t fit Judas’ paradigm?

But the question I asked myself in the wake of my betrayal was: what internal anguish did Jesus feel grappling with the reality that Judas had sold him out? Especially in His humanity?

We often respond to abandonment or betrayal in anger, by dwelling on the circumstances. In our workplaces, we often seek to get even or make our betrayers suffer intensely for how they’ve wronged us. We see a proper model of how to handle betrayal by Jesus, however.

We read in Hebrews that Jesus understands all that we encounter and are tempted with, yet did not sin in His own temptations. He pressed on to the task that he was called to by the Father. Though Jesus’ internal struggle with Judas’ betrayal is not recorded, we can assume that it was difficult for Him emotionally. We know that he instructed Judas to do what he’d set his mind to. He didn’t stop him or throw a fit. We also know that Jesus responded to Judas graciously. Jesus could never be accused of being a pushover, but He framed His response to Judas’ betrayal with kindness and graciousness.

If we have been betrayed by someone close to us—and eventually we all will—our first response should be to cry out to Jesus who loves us, pursues us, and intimately understands the reality of that betrayal.

Have you been abandoned or betrayed? Have you had those closest to you hang you out to dry? Have you poured biblical truth into an individual only to have them reject you and your care for them? Are you facing betrayal at the hands of a fellow employee or employer? How are you responding? Are you and I in any way betraying Jesus or others by our thoughts or actions as we respond to those who betray us?

Image by Tim Miller. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Dr. Drew Randle, Professor of Christian Ministry at Bryan College.