It is always difficult to grade such things as feelings, but it is reasonable to suggest that there can be few worse feelings than those associated with being let down. When someone misses a deadline or fails to deliver a small part of a project, you experience the milder form of this feeling. When an important contract is lost through incompetence, feelings become more intense. When a thriving company is taken from profit to bankruptcy, leaving thousands of staff pensionless, you move to the further reaches of this scale. Life and work is full of disappointments; times when a hope is unrealised or an expectation unmet.
There are factors, however, which make the experience significantly more unpleasant. A finance director caught embezzling funds or a research worker selling company secrets. Now there is an element of the deliberate, the malicious and the vindictive. The descriptive language moves now from that of “let down” to “betrayal”. You are still, however, experiencing something which is corporate, professional or objective. Your reaction may be intense but you may be able to distance yourself from the event.
At other times the experience can be more painful. When you allow yourself to become close to an individual, you open yourself to the rewards of friendship and loyalty but there are also some significant risks. It is the nightmare scenario when an individual you trust and like deliberately betrays you as a person and exposes you to danger and harm. Here being objective and professional is much more difficult.
The feelings are more extreme and they consist of hurt as well as regret. Such was the experience of Jesus Christ with Judas Iscariot. Judas was the financial director for a small group of close friends. Jesus had allowed him to get close, yet, for reasons which are not always as simple as they seem, Judas chose to deliberately betray Jesus into the hands of his enemies. Some see his motives as financial, others see that he was trying to force Jesus’ hand into taking on the authorities; either way it was a betrayal and was executed with an ironic kiss.
I want to suggest a couple of positives to take into your week from this negative story: Firstly, Jesus understands betrayal at its deepest level. Judas’ deliberate actions inflicted the first wounds of the night on a friend. Whatever you feel, whether it be the mild form of let down or the extreme fire of betrayal, Jesus understands.
Secondly, this betrayal triggered the sequence of events which we all know needed to take place to effect our rescue. The betrayal did not stop Jesus on this path to finishing his work, but rather he used it for his purposes.
Betrayal never stops the faithful follower from arriving. It wounds, it hurts, it can slow progress down but it cannot halt. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus did not stop you being rescued and any betrayal you face will not stop your life’s work. It was always so and it still is.
Matthew 26: 47-50
47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”
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