Betrayal strikes deep, again.
Many of those lovely men and women who went to work or tried to commute on September 11th, 2001 probably prayed to God that they would have a safe trip or a good day at work. They certainly did not ask for what they got. Betrayal.
Those beautiful thousands who perished around the Indian Ocean during the tsunami of 2004? I’m certain they lifted their voices up, asking for peace and long life. They did not ask for what they got. Betrayal.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama? How could God let Katrina ravage our homes and families? How many of those sufferers received what they asked for? Betrayal.
Those lovely young students at Virginia Tech woke up that Monday morning to a day full of potential. Some of them knew they were fulfilling a calling. Did any one of them expect that brisk and beautiful day to be shattered by deadly gunfire? Betrayal.
And now, evil has reared its ugly head again. AK-47 in the mall. NFL player murdered in his home. More shootings in Colorado. Betrayal. Betrayal. Betrayal.
Why do I keep calling it betrayal? Because deep down, perhaps deeper than conscious knowledge for some, our hearts recognize the innate goodness of creation, including the original goodness of men and women. No matter how many times we are hurt, we can still expect goodness! How is this possible, unless in some way we acknowledge that everything around us was meant to be good!?
Then, when we expect good and get evil, we call it betrayal.
Betrayal is an experience Jesus of Nazareth understood well. Judas was not a random stranger. He wasn’t just an acquaintance or a friend. He was a constant companion for three years.
NT Wright says, “Jesus trusted him and loved him and laughed with him. Jesus was on a journey to fulfill God’s great purpose for creation, and knew Judas would try to make it all go wrong.
“Jesus knows, and this is part of the strange darkness of the story, that God is sovereign and will hold even that in his overall purpose. I was talking to someone the other day about the tsunami, and I said that ‘The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane is as close as we get in the NT to understanding, if we can understand, what is going on with the strange purposes of God in the world.’
“We are taught as Christians to pray for things, we are taught to pray in faith, in the name of Jesus, and again and again in Scripture we are told (not least in John’s Gospel) that what we ask for in faith, we will receive if we really believe it!
“The strange thing is that in the garden of Gethsemane, the incarnate Son of God said to his Father, ‘Please, isn’t there another way?’ and the answer was ‘No.’ And if you can understand what is going on there, good luck to you because I can’t. It’s deep and it’s dark and it’s mysterious and its divine and it tells us something about the darkness which is at the heart of the cosmos, and about the fact that God did not come into the world to give us a theory about why it would be, so… so that we could sit back in our philosophers’ armchairs and say ‘Well that’s all right then,’ because it isn’t all right! The world is still full of pain and sorrow and anguish and evil, radical evil, and the message of the gospel is not that God has given us a theory by which we can understand it, but that He has given us Himself in the person of his Son to be plunged down into the middle of it, to drown under the waters of evil. He says in the garden, ‘This is your hour, the power of darkness.’ He knew that he was going into the middle of that darkness. Many Jews of Jesus’ day talked about a time of great suffering that would come upon Israel. They talked about it as a time of great testing, great tribulation, great trial and torture and sorrow. Some of them saw it as happening to lots of Jewish people, some just a few. Jesus believed it was coming, and he knew that he had to go out front and take it on himself, solo. What did he say in the garden? He said to his friends, ‘Watch and pray so that you may not enter into the testing.’ Many translations of the Bible call that ‘enter into temptation’ like Jesus was saying ‘Say your prayers or Satan may catch you in some trivial sin or other.’ No! Jesus is seeing the tidal wave of evil rushing towards him, the tidal wave called the testing, the tribulation that so many of the prophets and other Jewish writers had spoken about. And Jesus realizes that this is going to engulf all of them and he realizes that the only way to avoid that is for him to go and stand with his arms outstretched and take it, draw it onto himself so that the others may escape.”
This is the opposite of betrayal. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When you expect goodness and get evil, it is called betrayal. When you expect evil and get goodness, we call that salvation! Rescue! This is the life of the Christ of God! Let us rejoice that we can take shelter under his outstretched arms, that we might lead others into that blessed haven of peace, for betrayal and tribulation are on every hand, and God trusts US to be his watchmen, his shepherds, his beacons. Christians, unite!
in HIS love,