Monday, May 4, 2009

betrayal, abandonment & denial

depressed thoughtful

"But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Matthew 26:56

When reading about the betrayal of Jesus in the garden by Judas, I tend to forget that all the disciples, even stalwart Peter, would abandon Jesus in His hour of trial. Jesus predicted that Judas would betray Him. (Matthew 26:21-25) He predicted that Peter would deny Him. (Matthew 26:34) He predicted that all of the disciples would abandon Him. (Matthew 26:31) This is exactly what occurred.

So even as the disciples face their most cowardly moments, Jesus bravely, confidently, and with conviction stands before His accusers. The road to the cross is now the only path He will take. And it will come with this first devastating pain of abandonment. I see Jesus giving Himself to this task and purpose with the full knowledge of all that it will mean.

The emotional trauma of abandonment should not be overlooked as one of the sufferings of His Passion. I know from my counseling ministry that shattered relationships are difficult to deal with. In fact, part of the ministry of reconciliation that I am committed because of the gospel is the reconciliation of lives and families shattered by sinful actions and desertions. These are not easy moments. I have seen the toughest exteriors crumble into emotional messes as these issues came to light. Jesus had to feel the pain. I know that His men did as well. Peter wept bitterly when the impact of his personal denials of his Master hit him.

But in this agony, Jesus saw the atonement ahead. He endured the cross, despised the shame, knowing that He would again be seated at the right hand of the Father. But the cross, the sin of the world, the shame of human betrayal were all very real experiences.

Because my human tendency is to run from acknowledging Him in the hour of trial, I should pray for the strength to endure. I should know that the grace of Jesus will extend to forgive my failings. I should still see His example in suffering the cross as the supreme picture of why Christians should be willing to stand up to what ever may await us as we follow Him.

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