Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Friday’s Podcast at STC. We hope you have found these reflections helpful this week. My wife Tricia and I have five amazing grandchildren and each day this week has been our opportunity to say ‘hi’ to them. Today it’s Josiah; he is our oldest grandchild and we celebrated a few weeks again his ninth birthday. Josiah loves football, cricket and Lego and is one amazing boy ‘Hi Josiah from Granny and Grandad’!’
Our grandchildren have been mentioned this week for a reason. When Tricia and I look at them, we are not only thankful for the wonder they are and the love we have for them but also the hope they bring – hope for the future. You may recall that our theme this week has been ‘hope’.
On Monday and Tuesday we heard Jesus giving his ‘big picture’ view of the future; the world may seem in turmoil but those who stand strong in the faith will know hope and win through. On Wednesday the hope we experience through friendship; yesterday the the hope and confidence we can know in being set free from comparison as we learn to serve as Jesus did. Today we consider the hope that is ours in the forgiveness of Jesus as we reflect on the betrayal of Judas. A slightly longer podcast today to cover this tough topic. Our reading is Luke 22:39-53 and our focus verse are the powerful words of Jesus in v40
“Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Have you ever felt betrayed? Perhaps a confidence you shared with someone and then everyone seems to know it! Or perhaps a promise that has not been kept? An opportunity that seemed to be yours and then was taken away? The list goes on. An even harder question; have you ever felt you have betrayed someone else? Betrayal hurts. It hurts even more when friends are involved.
Doing the right thing is often so costly; standing up for the good, doing the right thing even when it’s unpopular, supporting a friend, holding a confidence, standing your ground when others fall away. It’s easy sometimes to be tempted to take the easy way out and follow the crowd.
We will never face as great a challenge as Jesus faced. But there will be times in our lives when God will ask us to choose the right way – his way – and not the easy or convenient way. Not to betray his cause. In today’s reading we see that Judas doing just that as he chose his own way. A clear contrast between the way of Jesus and the way of Judas. Jesus prayed and ‘an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him’ (v.43). Then we see the result of Judas’ act of betrayal – ‘when darkness reigns’ (53).
However, this story does show there is a way back from betrayal – it is repentance and forgiveness. It’s Peter who gives us all hope! He messed up big time – we read yesterday of his betrayal of Jesus. Yet God used him powerfully. His betrayal led him to repent and then to be forgiven.
This is such a relevant message for today. I recall a close friend of mine who went through what could be only described as ‘betrayal’ both professionally and personally. Those who were once close now speaking badly of this friend. Sound familiar? The world’s response to such situations is defensive – claims and counter claims to justify our position. To fight back. The temptation is always to defend our position, to say how we’ve been wronged and how it’s their fault, to entrench our position ultimately in unforgiveness. You may indeed have been wronged, but Jesus says there is a better way.
To fight back was what the disciples did in this story – that was their response to betrayal. “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear (49-50) Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him (51).
The way of Jesus is ultimately repentance – turning back to God – forgiveness, restoration and healing. Jesus was betrayed – but Jesus forgave. When we are betrayed we also need to forgive. That is not to say that what was done was right and needed confronting, or it didn’t mean anything, or such betrayal was not hurtful. We always need to be aware that people will let us down because we’re human, it’s in our nature! However, the final outcome has to be forgiveness, hard though it may be, there is no other way, because unforgiveness always holds you captive and and is ultimately destructive.
I have known so many people over the years both personally and professionally who find it impossible to say ‘I’m sorry’. I came from a family where no one ever admitted being in the wrong and so found it hard to forgive. It’s always easier to find the fault in others and not ourselves. One of the most powerful and beautiful Godly phrases ever is ‘I’m sorry’. It’s not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I would go even further: always keep short accounts with others.
As a Christian, I have often found over the years that when there is such an issue the way forward can be to say ‘If I have said or done something which has hurt or offended you, I’m sorry …’ – even if initially you’re not sure what the issue is! Bring it into the open, into the light and be willing to take the first step. If your ‘sorry’ is still not received, you’ve still done the right thing, you can do no more; life is too short to live any other way! To apologise, to admit when we get things wrong is the gateway to reconciliation and restoration. Being a disciple of Jesus is indeed very challenging but the only way to live!
Lord, help me today to live my life as your disciple. Let me hold no grudges or un-forgiveness in my life. Thank you that when I get it wrong, when I betray others in some way or I feel others have betrayed me, you are always there to receive my confession and give your forgiveness. Help me today not just to speak the truth but live a life of truth. Thank you that my hope is always in you. Amen
READING: Luke 22:39-53
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.’