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Facing Betrayal

March 31, 2019 Pastor: John Palka

Scripture: Luke 22:47-52

The annals of history overflow with stories of betrayal. In American history there was Benedict Arnold, an American General who contributed to many American battle victories during the Revolutionary War. Apparently, other military officers took credit for Arnold’s work, ticking Arnold off, which then prompted him to literally sell the American fort West Point to the British. Arnold went on to be a general in the British army. So rooted in American history is this story that if someone calls you a “Benedict Arnold” everyone knows you’re being called a traitor.

I had a “friend” in high school that I used to hang out with. And as high school friends we would share personal stories, struggles and opinions. Even in high school the expectation was that these conversations were private…or so I thought. I learned that my friend didn’t get that memo and passed on our “private” conversations to a whole bunch of other people. He betrayed our friendship. He betrayed me. It hurt and I was angry.

We’ve all been betrayed and it hurts and we want to get back. You hurt me so it fair that I hurt you. That’s the way the world works.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been following Jesus’ journey to the cross. Today, on that journey, we see Jesus betrayed. In seeing how He responded, we get a glimpse of where our faith leads us when we’re betrayed.

Luke 22:47-48 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

For the past 3 years, Jesus and this small group of 12 did life together. The 12 left their families and carriers to be disciples, followers and students of Jesus. They did everything together. They walked across the region together, eat together, worked and served together, they laughed and cried together. This was Jesus closest group, his inner most intimate circle of relationship. Yet there was one of them, Judas, who betrayed Jesus by turning him into the religious leaders who wanted Jesus killed. Judas had the audacity to carry out the betrayal with a kiss.

Why did Judas betray Jesus? He did it for the selfish reason of money. Betrayal is always motivated by selfish reasons. I want more money. I want more popularity, power, or prestige.

Where have you been betrayed? Perhaps at work, you rounded a corner to find someone who you thought was your friend talking badly about you. Or perhaps a group you had been working with acted without you, taking credit for some good results and leaving you out to hang dry. Maybe a friend whom you confided in blabbed to others what was said in confidentiality. Maybe you experienced one of the most painful and hurtful betrayal…that person who confessed their love for you, who said “I will be with you from this day forward, for better or for worst, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health” and that person walked away.

Betrayal’s Boomerang Effect - How did you respond? Passively or overtly?

Often revenge causes us to do some really stupid things. When he was an attorney, Abraham Lincoln was approached by a man who insisted on bringing a suit for $2.50 against an impoverished debtor. Lincoln tried to discourage him, but the man was bent on revenge. When he saw that the man would not be but off, Lincoln agreed to take the case and asked for a legal fee of $10, which the plaintiff paid. Lincoln then gave half the money to the defendant, who willingly confessed to the debt and paid the $2.50! But even more bizarre than Lincoln's ingenuous settlement was the fact that the irate plaintiff was satisfied with it.

When a person carries out revenge, they normally hurt themselves more than they hurt the other person. Seeking of revenge damages me. It hurts me emotionally, physically and certainly spiritually. My soul is damaged. Revenge pushes me away from God. Revenge muffles the voice of God, making it harder to know him. Revenge dims the light of Jesus’ grace and love. Revenge brings darkness on to my soul. Revenge exchanges God’s joy, for hatred. Revenge replaces God’s peace with my puffed-up sense of self-righteousness.

Are those the exchanges we want to make?

Luke 22:49-50, When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

The Gospel of John tells us it was Peter who drew the sword. Chances are Peter was looking to kill, but he missed his mark.

Jesus’ Reaction and Teaching - Luke 22:51, But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

“But God, let me get even, after all don’t you like justice.”

In Matthew 5:44 Jesus teaches, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Mt. 6:27 Jesus says, But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

The world tells us to get our revenge. It attempts to drive out darkness with more the darkness. John 1:5 tells us something different. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The only way to drive out darkness is with light. Jesus knew this and so He met blackness of sin with the light of His sacrifice of love. His light was the only thing that would overcome darkness.

If I hurt you and now you respond by hurting me and then I respond by hurting you and you back to me. And the cycle of self–destruction goes on. Everyone losses but the greatest loss is the loss of our relationship with Jesus and the loss of our witness to the world of Jesus’ love.

1957 Martin Luther King preached these words on revenge and love.

In Christ there is no East or West.
In Him no North or South,
But one great Fellowship of Love
Throughout the whole wide world.

This is the only way.

And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. [There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.]

So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.”

The world says you have every right to get even. If this is going to be the “truth” we confess, there is another truth we also must confess. God looks at us and has every right to hate us. We have taken his name in vain. We have dishonored him, we’ve place other things higher than him.

But God would rather die than hate you . He doesn’t give you what you deserve. You deserve death, but in Christ Jesus he gives you forgiveness, love and life. He says to you, “Let’s walk together.”