Perspective on Suffering from God, the Betrayed

prayer-theological-correspondence-letter-5

be-tray, verb
- to expose to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy
- to fail or desert especially in time of need
- to lead astray

Jesus’ Betrayal and Peace

Jesus was betrayed by Judas, exposing Jesus to His enemies and ultimately to death on a cross. Yet, this betrayal also revealed astoundingly peace-filled moments in the last hours of Jesus’ life. Here are some:

  1. Jesus had intimate knowledge of His betrayer—He knew Judas would betray Him (Matthew 26:21) and He knew the very moment when Judas would betray Him (Matthew 26:46)—and Jesus didn’t prevent it.
  2. Jesus’ disciple Peter used a sword to slice off an ear of a servant of the high priest who was among those intending to arrest Jesus—but Jesus healed the ear and told Peter to sheath his sword.
  3. Jesus testified to the Father’s willingness to receive an appeal of protection from Jesus—to send 12 legions of angels (Matthew 26:53)—but Jesus never asked the Father for them.

Jesus didn't pursue prevention of His arrest, protection from the crucifixion, or retribution against those who came to take Him to death—when He had opportunity for all three. Jesus, while facing what He knew would be an excruciating death to bear the punishment and wrath of God for the sins of all who believe for all time, was at perfect peace.

Yet, perhaps one of the most instructive details in the accounts of Jesus’ being betrayed is one easiest to miss. Jesus references the Scriptures—stating that everything happening to Him was in accordance with what was written. Jesus knew He was in the process of fulfilling prophecy as the long-awaited Messiah (Acts 3:18).

When predicting Judas’ act of betrayal, He said 

“The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him…”
Matthew 26:24, emphasis added

Right after instructing Peter to sheath his sword, He said

“Do you think I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Matthew 26:53-54, emphasis added

I could not help but think of Jesus’ words earlier in His ministry, spoken when He was being tempted by the devil. Jesus said

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

Jesus didn’t ask for what He was truly due, as the Son of God. His plan was for the Father’s will to be done (John 14:31), and to have the joy set before Him—while despising the shame of the cross—of saving many for the glory of God (Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 1:6). His plan was to see the Scriptures fulfilled—that was the peace-filled perspective He spoke of when being betrayed. Jesus perfectly exemplified living on the basis of the word of God.

Are You Tempted to Feel Betrayed by God?

Are you tempted to feel betrayed by God due to the suffering in your life? Like Jesus, when being betrayed to death by Judas, we can look to the Scriptures. What do they say? Like Jesus, can we too have poignant perspective and peace from the Scriptures, perspective that directs our hearts toward God? And if so, what exactly does this mean?

The Gospel of John records in detail the words that Jesus speaks to His disciples prior to being betrayed. So we know exactly what is on Jesus’ agenda to share with His disciples in His last hours before crucifixion. His words give us an outline for understanding our present suffering.

  •  Jesus speaks to us as friends, telling us future plans for the world.

To begin, Jesus doesn’t want us to feel abandoned. While we certainly cannot know the full mind of the Lord (Rom. 11:34), Jesus calls us close like the nearest of friends and gives us significant understanding about His plans for this world.

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his Master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Jn. 15:15

In 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, His ordered plans are further detailed for us:

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

  • He does not leave us alone, but gives us the Helper.

Presently, the risen Christ is at the right hand of the Father while He awaits returning with praiseworthy patience (considering the manifold evil in this world and hardships His people are enduring!). He is waiting to return so that those who do not yet believe in Him have opportunity for repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). But He says that while we believers wait for His coming, we are not alone—we receive the Helper (John 14:16), the Holy Spirit.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth”
Jn .16:13a

  • He says we will have tribulation in a fallen world, but assures us that He has overcome.

Prior to being betrayed, Jesus speaks about the tribulation that we will have because of this fallen world. He speaks of the persecution that believers will experience because they no longer follow the ways of the world (John 15:18). Yet, He promises that He has overcome the system of the world, meaning He will, with certainty, complete His plans.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jn. 16:33

  • He encourages us that we’re here still for a purpose. 

Jesus next implies that instead of taking believers to heaven the moment we place our faith in Him, we stay with purpose in this world for the remainder of our God-appointed lives. Yet, while we live here, we have the assurance that we can no longer belong to the evil one and that the truth of Scripture is our tremendously peace-giving defense system in this world. Here, Jesus is praying to the Father:

“I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Jn. 17:15-18

Patience with God’s Gracious Plan

Jesus did not mislead us about the state of this world. He spoke that this world would not be right until He returns; He told us that He would not immediately take us who believe out of it. He has purpose left for us here. Not the author of sin or the reason death is here, He is the reason we can expect with joy that the enemies of sin and death will be defeated.

Jesus has overcome the system of this world, and He has a plan.

He arose, and ascended to the right hand of God. He will return for His people, and finally, He will put everything, every enemy, in right order underneath His reign—the last enemy being death, which will be destroyed. The human race first sinned in Adam while in the garden (Gen. 3), there betraying God through unbelief in God’s unimprovable goodness in his life. But the perfect Christ offers resurrection and ultimate peace—having the authority and power and willingness to forgive every sin and betrayal for those who come in true faith to Him.

Jesus said that He would be patient to return so that the full number might believe in Him (Rom. 11:25). He is working His salvation in this world, raising people out of their sin to follow Him. And only God knows when the moment this work that keeps Him presently in heaven will be done. Faith in the gospel implies having faith in Jesus’ timing—for God intends to, and will, give His gospel to all those He calls.

Doesn’t all that He has told us as friends give us tremendously helpful perspective that leads to unfaltering peace as we believe it through the help of the Holy Spirit? King Jesus—the same Jesus with indescribable peace facing His betrayal and with compassionate words of provision and instruction before being taken away to death—is ascended to the right hand of the Father. And we can trust in the plan written for us in the Scriptures, that the Savior will return. And there is joy today to be found in enduring for the joy that is ahead.

Perspective for Your Suffering Through the Account of Judas’ Betrayal of Jesus

To increase perspective the honors God and peace that rests in Him while suffering, remember:

  • the knowledge that Jesus has let you in on plans for the world as a friend
  • the gift you, believer, have received in the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who guides you into steadying truth
  • the belief that He is coming again, in His perfect timing, and has purpose for you being here
  • the astounding example of Jesus enduring His betrayal with peace because of God’s plan
  • the grace of knowing that Jesus will give His gospel to the full number, and because of His patience thus far, believer, this has included you
  • the belief that when the time has come, our pain will be over—and not a second later than Jesus says
  • the remembrance that perfect Jesus allowed Himself to be betrayed to a shameful death, bearing the wrath of God for our sins, for the joy ahead
  • the provision that we have, as those who know God’s ultimate plan for this world, to endure our pain and suffering with joy while knowing that our full joy is certainly ahead because of Jesus

[Post credit: Hope Mommies]