Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Beneath The Cross Of Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 55:12-14 – It is not an enemy who taunts me — I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me — I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you — my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God. (NLT)
Psalm 41:9 – Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. (KJV)
Zechariah 13:6 – And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (KJV)
Today's Scriptures bring back memories of a time when a dear friend turned against me and complained to other members of the church. I felt shocked, betrayed, and abandoned by someone I had trusted. Nonetheless, the personal pain that I experienced does not even come close to the intense grief our Lord suffered by the deceitful actions of one of His own.
During the Lenten season, many Christians reflect on Jesus' physical suffering; however, I think that we sometimes overlook the mental and emotional wounds that He endured. In particular, consider the internal struggle that He must have gone through day after day, knowing in advance that Judas Iscariot was going to betray Him.
John 6:70-71 – Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil." He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him. (ESV)
Though it is clear that Judas was fulfilling Bible prophecy, still, he did so by his own choice. Perhaps greed or disillusionment motivated him to do such a terrible deed, but God had a greater purpose for His Son. Similarly, God can use our betrayals in ways that will glorify Him if we seek to do His will.
Meanwhile, isn't it comforting to know that Jesus understands our struggles? He understands rejection, betrayal, abandonment, and loss.
Hebrews 4:15 – For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (KJV)
As we read the passion story once again, observe the Lord: betrayed, forsaken, and denied. Note how He greets His enemy as "friend": "Do what you came for, friend." (Matthew 26:50a NIV 2011). What can we learn from His example?
Let us keep in mind how much God loves us, how He came to this earth in human flesh to identify with our sorrows. He offers forgiveness, healing, and peace to everyone who calls upon His name.
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for Your great love and sacrifice, for by Your wounds, we are healed. Enable us to walk in the power of Your Spirit, forgiving others just as You have forgiven us. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.