By Van Richmond
Pastor, New Life Church, Nashville
Focal Passage: Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2
You have walked across the razor-sharp pieces of broken trust, just trying to understand why you were betrayed. The act of betrayal creates a tormenting pain that tears at every emotional fiber of your being while simultaneously wrapping you in a dulling numbness. Disbelief, shock, and denial become constant companions because of someone’s treachery or violation of a personal confidence. Thankfully, we are not trapped in that state. God can and does bring us to a point of deciding how to overcome the betrayal.
Most people find betrayal triggers a mental tug-of-war between a Christian response and a carnal response: what we should do versus what we would like to do. Satan is really, really hoping you get dragged across the dividing line and lose that battle. To ensure Christ gets the victory, let’s look at God’s directives as well as Jesus’ example on how we should conduct ourselves in situations like these.
In our focal passage, Joseph experienced unimaginable hurt when he was betrayed by his brothers. In another account from the Old Testament, David also experienced the surprise and sting of betrayal, but as we find written in Psalm 55:12-15, his betrayer was not an enemy or a family member but was “a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.” David knew all too well the torment of enemies, but that was far less painful than betrayal from a friend. Like us, his first response was to experience the excruciating pain; his second response was to turn to God. In verse 16, David says, “But I call to God … . Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” Acknowledge your pain, and then pray. Pray hard. Pour out your disappointment, your anguish, your tears. David prayed because he knew God was compassionately listening.
In moving to the New Testament we find history’s best-known act of disloyalty. The deception of Judas Iscariot has become symbolic of the ultimate betrayal, and Christ’s actions are a demonstration of the ultimate response. His reaction forms our third step in responding to betrayal.
When Jesus was betrayed by Judas, He moved on. There were no snide comments written and posted on the walls of the Tabernacle; there was no ranting, no revenge. He moved on! The Lord simply refused to let His ministry get sidelined by the betrayal. Perry Noble wrote in Christian Post, “It actually served Him in a way that enhanced His ministry! Think about it; without the betrayal there would have been no crucifixion, and without the crucifixion there would be no resurrection!!!” Salvation for mankind was more important than settling a score. The perfect man provided a perfect model. Romans 8:29 says, “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” The image Christ humbly displayed was of someone who said, “My mission, not Myself.” If we are conformed to His image, we must move on.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, including Peter, who had betrayed Jesus by denying Him three times. The Lord’s focus was still on ministry when He directed Peter, “Feed my lambs. Shepherd my sheep. Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Jesus wasn’t looking in the rearview mirror. His focus was forward — preaching the gospel, leading people to faith, and building His church.
Moving on requires that we discard all unneeded items. God unloads our seeds of bitterness, and then He willingly takes on the burden of the person who hurt you so you are freed up, free to hurt and then to pray, free to forgive the one who betrayed you, free to move on with a healed heart so you can again tell those who are lost about His forgiving heart.