Some roads are easy to navigate, others can be treacherous and incredibly difficult. When “treacherous” describes not only the painful road you’re walking but the person who made it painful, you need to keep your eye on the prize.
Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted?
There’s nothing quite like the take-your-breath-away heartbreak when you first discover the betrayal, the pain of realizing that your enemy is actually someone that you trusted as a friend. In my own life there have been several times when that treachery came at the hands of someone who claimed to be a follower of Jesus, and those times have been the most painful. Several.
When I was in Israel in 2015, an Israeli soldier was stabbed in the back by a female Palestinian terrorist. The soldier was on a routine patrol, when the woman stepped out of a doorway as he passed and stabbed into his neck and shoulder. Betrayal is like being stabbed in the back. It comes out of nowhere, without warning. And all of a sudden you have searing pain, shock and a great deal of blood. Turning around to see a trusted friend holding the knife makes it all the worse.
Our verses today remind us that Jesus understood this pain all too well. The first reading shows us that He felt this pain. The second reading demonstrates His response, and lays out what He expects ours to be in painful situations.
“After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” When he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” “
We are halfway through Holy Week. Let’s take a moment to catch our breath, consider how to face the pain that each life will inevitably face, but take strength from Christ’s example and refuel for the last leg of this journey. Sunday is coming soon!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
In our readings today, Jesus exposes the one who will betray Him. If you notice, Jesus reacts in a rather peculiar way. If it were one of us who faced the one who would betray us, I am satisfied that we would react much differently, but not Jesus. When I was the one betrayed, I was initially consumed with pain and anger, and then began to deliberately limit the amount of damage. Jesus simply says, “Whatever it is you have to do, get it done quickly.” He then turns His attention back to the task at hand, and determines to make the entire situation into an opportunity to glorify the Father.
How many of us have found ourselves in situations where we felt as if someone has done us wrong, yet instead of allowing God to be our vindicator, we get the wind knocked out of our sails and find ourselves adrift in a sea of bitterness, anger, and self-pity? Maybe us, but not Jesus! Jesus sets the example for us to stand in the face of adversity, look it in the eye, and move on with life.
We see this dynamic in the second reading from today that comes from the book of Hebrews. We are encouraged to run our race looking to Jesus as our example as Heaven cheers us on. We must not forget in this season that we entertain a great cloud of witnesses who have gone through trials and tribulations much greater than our own.
Be encouraged! Follow Christ’s example and never lose heart. Don’t give up just because the cards seem to be stacked against you. No! Instead, listen for the cheers coming from that great cloud of witnesses, keep your eye on the prize, and press on to victory.
Remember, Sunday’s coming!