Jesus Overcame Betrayal. You Can, Too.

By Annemarie McLean Published on March 28, 2024

Have you ever been betrayed?

Today, as we collectively remember the moment when Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest friends and handed over to authorities to face humiliation, physical torture, and eventual gruesome death, we ponder this. Betrayal takes on many forms and faces. It seeps into our relationships, business dealings, military institutions, and geopolitical alliances.

In its purest essence, betrayal shatters trust.

Among the dictionary’s five definitions of “betrayal” are these:

  • The act of exposing or delivering someone to an enemy through treachery or disloyalty
  • The act of disappointing a person’s trust, hopes, or expectations
  • The act of revealing information in violation of confidence
  • Failure to keep or honor a promise, principle, cherished memory, etc…

If you have ever been on the receiving end of any of the above definitions, then you know what it means to feel betrayed.

The Worst Feeling in the World

Betrayal is arguably among the most painful of all human experiences, right up there with rejection. Betrayal pierces the heart and is borne alone, in isolated agony, by the one betrayed. Without forgiveness, betrayal can turn loving hearts cold and trusting hearts jaded. Our visceral reaction is to cry out, “How could you do this to me?”

In our shock and dismay, we go silent and numb as reality sinks in — along with feelings of anger and thoughts of revenge. On this the betrayed can agree: True betrayal causes pain too deep for words.

It’s here that we find Jesus on Maundy Thursday. One of us. One who was betrayed. Unlike us, though, Jesus knew it was coming. Sitting at the Last Supper table with His disciples, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21).

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And He felt the weight and pain of His impending betrayal; Jesus wasn’t emotionless. In fact, John writes that He was “troubled in his spirit” (13:21) before telling His disciples that He was about to be betrayed.

How did Jesus remain pure in word and deed when one of His own disciples, supposedly one of His closest allies and best friends — one into whom He had poured His life for three solid years — sold Him into the hands of His enemies for 30 pieces of silver?

Simply put: How did Jesus remain sinless in the face of betrayal?

Peace Is Possible Even in Pain

What Jesus did after Judas kissed Him is extraordinary, but what He didn’t do is just as remarkable. Both at the Last Supper (when Judas identified himself as the betrayer) and in the Garden of Gethsemane (when he kisses Jesus to show the temple guards who to arrest), Jesus neither cursed Judas nor assaulted him. Rather, in responses that can only be described as supernatural, He remained peace-filled and others-oriented.

According to John 13:28-30, after Judas departed, Jesus laid aside His own emotional pain and spent the rest of the dinner pouring hope-filled promises into the remaining eleven disciples, preparing them for what was to come. He commanded them to love one another, comforted them with a pledge of the coming Holy Spirit, prepared them to be hated by the world, and reaffirmed that He is the True Vine, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He reassured them that their sorrow would turn to joy and that He had already overcome the world (John 13:31-16:33).

In all these things, Jesus showed us the path to our own deliverance and victory over betrayal. If you are bearing the cross of betrayal right now, you can find solace, encouragement, and victory in Jesus’s example.

While Jesus felt every pain and pang, he did not let his betrayal define or defeat him. He kept His eyes on the mission “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2) for the sake of others.

The Way Forward

Like Jesus, you can choose not to allow the destructive pull of self-pity to swallow you whole. You can turn outward and grow, instead of imploding inward, as hard as that is.

Like Jesus, you can know that your betrayal is not the final paragraph in the story God is writing of your life. What the enemy meant for evil, the Lord can turn it for good.

Jesus was a man betrayed by a friend. Your betrayal may look different, but whatever form it takes, in Jesus, you have One who comes beside you in that darkness, One who has been there to show you the way through. Like Jesus, you can choose to forgive, find peace in God the Father, finish your mission, and experience resurrection hope on the other side of this painful experience.

 

Annemarie McLean is a writer for Liberty Counsel, a nationwide public interest civil liberties law firm committed to restoring the culture, advancing religious freedom, protecting the unborn, and strengthening the family. In 2012, she founded 3D Missions, an international outreach taking the Gospel to the nations through the performing arts, and cofounded Brave & Beautiful, a platform empowering young women to live, love, and lead courageously. She holds a journalism degree from Oral Roberts University, with postgraduate work in organizational leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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