Seward United Methodist Church
Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Betrayal April 5, 2020

Matthew 21:1-11, Philippians 2:5-11, and Matthew 26:14-35

Let me ask you a trick question: Who betrayed Jesus? Judas, right? Well, if that was the right answer, then it wouldn’t be a trick question, would it?

Jesus says to his disciples, “You will all desert me.” Peter, always the bold one, proclaims, “I won’t leave you, even if I have to die with you.” And all the other disciples vowed the same. Wasn’t that a betrayal, too? To abandon their master to save their own skins?

And it wasn’t just the twelve disciples in the upper room, either. The crowds welcomed Jesus on Sunday with shouts of “Hosanna,” which means, “Save us.” And “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” And then on Friday, they said of the same “one who comes in the name of the Lord,” crucify him!

Who sent Jesus to the cross? Was it Romans? The Jewish leadership? The crowds? Well, it was all of them. But more than that, it was all of us. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It was my sin and your sin that sent Jesus to the cross.

Have you ever felt betrayed? Of course, you have. We all have. Everyone experiences betrayal because we all fall short. Whether on purpose or by accident, we all fail others. And whether it’s intended as betrayal or not, we usually feel betrayed when someone fails us.

The question is not, “Will we be betrayed?” The question is, “How will we respond when we feel betrayed?”

A couple months ago, I saw a post being shared around on Facebook. I didn’t know the person who put up in the first place, and even if I did, I wouldn’t say who it was. But the gist of the story is that this person felt betrayed by members of their church. And they give this long litany of all the ways they’ve been betrayed. And they talked about how they were leaving and never going back. And they talked about what they wanted to do to certain individuals from that church. The phrases “smack that stupid grin off so-and-so’s face” and “shove it down so-and-so’s throat” featured rather prominently.

And that’s the typical response, right? That’s the normal, expected response when we feel betrayed, right? But what should our response be? What was Jesus’

response? Jesus loved and served his disciples who failed him. He washed their feet, even Judas. He died on the cross for the sins of the crowd who cried, “Crucify!” Not to mention, dying on the cross for my sins and your sins, too. He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” for the Romans and religious authorities who put him there.

“Let your attitude be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God.”

Do you have a right to lash out at your betrayers, to seek revenge? The world certainly seems to think we do.

Have you ever seen the movie, The Revenant? It’s based off the supposedly true story of Hugh Glass, who was mauled by a grizzly bear somewhere up in present day Montana. The other members of his party figured he was a goner, so they left two men to stay with him until he died, to bury him. Claiming there were hostile American Indians in the area, the men fled, taking his equipment and leaving him behind. Instead of dying, he regained consciousness and traveled 200 miles by himself back to civilization. According to the story, he tracked those two men down. He forgave one of them for leaving him, and just wanted his gun back from the other. But in the movie version, he tracks them down and kills them in revenge. Why the change? Well, I guess because that’s what people expect.

The expected thing to do when you feel betrayed is to get revenge, lash out, or at least have nothing to do with them again. But the example of Jesus is to love, serve, pray for, even sacrifice for those who betray us. The world doesn’t expect that, but it’s what the world needs.

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