Betrayal!

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,
Nick

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About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 13 December, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. “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!”I like that.I’ve been reading about table fellowship and how that concept heightens what Judas did. As many times as we’ve betrayed God, it is amazing how faithful He is.Grace and peace,Tim

  2. Thanks, Tim. How often indeed…How different would our brotherhood look if we could trust in his righteousness, his covenant faithfulness… instead of surrounding ourselves with those of like precious performance rather than those of like precious faith.Sorry… little bit cranky. I’ll be better tomorrow.in HIS love,Nick

  3. That is a good one.

  4. I especially like your comments on Gethsemane. That’s where the humanity of Jesus is seen more than any other passage. What about Christ’s words, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I’ll never get a handle on all that is implied in those words, but I do know that He turned betrayal into salvation.

  5. Thank you for reading and praying, brothers. When you come and participate in conversations like this, it strengthens me.I think Gethsemane is where we most clearly see the perfectly indivisible Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God. He is heart-rendingly honest about his weakness and fear, and yet he chooses the hardest right, the choice I don’t think I could ever have made. “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame…”Bethlehem, Bethany, Gethsemane, Calvary, Emmaus. You and I might have one or two place-names in our lives where the mere mention of the name strikes us dumb with powerful, awesome recollection. Yet the life of Jesus is full of such places! And what’s more, I would bet that many of the places like that in our lives garner their resonance from our life with Jesus.Thanks again!in HIS love,Nick

  6. Nick,Great post brother.I think people call it betrayal because the don’t understand God. The think that God is punishing the country or forsaken the country for its ungodliness. God does beytray us. He gives every one a choice, free will. The man who shot up the mall and the man who went to Church last Sunday had a choice to pick up the guns and go to the places and kill. We have had hurricanes and Sunammi’s forever. It isnt’ like God is striking us dead. It just isn’t the way God functions. As minister we preach it from the pulpits and let our congregations know that isn’t how God functions. He is a God of mercy, promises, love, and grace. He to heal relationships. He is a God who desire to have a relationship with us to the point that he went to the extreme of sending he Son Jesus while we were still sinners. May the world not see God as a betrayer but as a “REDEEMER”.

  7. Nick, This really made me think. I have been asking all of those “Why” questions since mom died. I did pray for her healing…it did feel like betrayal. I had neve looked at it from this way…Even Jesus was told no…it has to be this way. Thanks Nick….karen

  8. I feel betrayed that I didn’t get over here earlier and read this. :)Loving your blog,Trey

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