And even as Jesus said [his betrayer had arrived], Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: "You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss." So Judas came straight to Jesus. "Greetings, Rabbi!" he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.
Jesus said, "My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for."
Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him.
— Matthew 26:47-50 NLT
Betrayed in the garden of prayer.
Betrayed by a kiss.
Betrayed by a friend.
Unfortunately, betrayal in God's family did not end with Judas. Betrayal by a Christian friend and confidant didn't stop when the moisture from Judas' kiss on Jesus' cheek dried. Unfortunately, betrayal in what is supposed to be a place of safety and spiritual nurture didn't end when Judas hanged himself.
Have you been betrayed by someone you thought was a friend in Christ? Have you been undercut by someone who was supposed to be a loyal confidant? Have you been wounded in what was supposed to be a place of spiritual safety?
If you have, you know the wounds a friend can leave when he or she no longer is a friend! You know the pain of Gethsemane.
But if this is your story, remember it is also Jesus' story. For you, for us, the latter part of Matthew's Gospel includes a powerful two-point message. First, watch Jesus as he is betrayed, denied, and forsaken by his most beloved friends. He is a pioneer for us on how to handle the agony of betrayal and abandonment. Second, speak honestly to Jesus about your wounds and hurts. He knows and understands not only because he is divine, but also because he has been in our world with real human skin and longs to comfort and help you and me in our times of heartbreak.
Almighty God, please help me never be the one who abandons someone else, especially a brother or sister in Christ, in a time of need. And, dear Father, I certainly don’t want to ever abandon Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I know I can stumble in my loyalty because I have fallen to other weaknesses at other times. And Father, help me to forgive those who have wounded and abandoned me in my times of crisis. Cleanse my heart of bitterness and resentment so that I can be more like Jesus, who was abandoned so that I would never ever be completely forgotten, forsaken, or alone. In Jesus' precious name, I pray. Amen.