We all know that bitter taste of betrayal. We’ve heard our friends talking about us to other friends, or had a classmate/coworker steal an idea of ours. We’ve all been skipped over for a hangout invite or had a plan sabotaged. I know we can all relate to this. And most times, when it happens, we add a brick to a wall that we’re building between us and our “betrayer.” We cling to the hope that when we’ve added enough bricks to our walls, we will no longer be obligated to see or speak to the person on the other side and therefore, no longer affect you. Because all of those bricks represent a further indication that they don’t deserve our presence.
It sounds pretty bad when I put it that way, but let me be clear, it is exactly what I am thinking.
This past Sunday, I sat in a church service and listened to the pastor read from Luke 22. He spoke about Jesus sitting at the table sharing his last dinner with Judas and Peter, two of his many followers who would betray Him in His most dire time of need.
Luke 22:4-6 “And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”
Luke 22:14-16 “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 22:31-34 “‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’”
As I sat there and listened to the pastor describe the humility and love that Jesus captivated in sharing His last meal with men He knew would betray him, I couldn’t help but relate. I thought, wow I guess I need to be kinder to those who betray me. And, to be like Jesus, I need to seek humility and love for those who don’t deserve it.
I continued down this way of thinking for the majority of the message, and it wasn’t until I was later sitting on the beach, going over the message in my head, that I got that smack of Truth that needed to be written on my heart. This whole time, I had been replacing Jesus’ deep and painful betrayals with the small and (for lack of a better term) babyish betrayals I have experienced. In reality, I should have been replacing myself in the seat where Peter sat.
I should have been thinking of the thousands, maybe millions of times that I have deliberately betrayed my savior (even after knowing He chose to die for me).
I should have been thinking of the way that Jesus has continued to invite me back to His table even as I betray and knowing that I will betray again.
I should have been overwhelmed by his gracious love, and not consumed by my own pride.
The next time I bite into one of those bitter betrayals, I pray I won’t think of how I deserve better, or how I am Holy and forgiving enough to still allow those betrayers to sit at my table. Instead, I pray that I am reminded of my open invitation to sit with Jesus, as a betrayer or not. I pray that I will love and serve without expectation. Not because I am being the “bigger” and “better” person, but because my Father has loved and served me. And, with that mindset, I pray my response to betrayal is less about walls and bricks, and more about an open seat next to me, at His table.
Luke 6:35-36: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke 22: 24-26 “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.’”