Bible Reading: John 13:18-30
I once heard it said that no one would ever really be a leader unless they had experienced some level of rejection. King David, in the Old Testament, and King Jesus, in the New Testament, both experienced rejection of the worst kind – betrayal by their close friends. David wrote about this, and Jesus quoted him. “Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me” [Psalm 41:9; John 13:18].
David was probably speaking about Hushai [Samuel 16:23] or Ahithophel, one of his counsellors [2 Samuel 15:12]. Both turned against David, in support of David’s rebellious son, Absalom [2 Samuel 16:20-23]. Writing of this experience of betrayal David said,
“It is not an enemy who taunts me – I could bear that. It is not my foes who so
arrogantly insult me – I could have hidden from them. Instead it is you – my
equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God” [Psalm 55:12-14].
It is interesting to see the different reactions of David and Jesus to betrayal by their close friends. David said, “Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them” [Psalm 55:15], but Jesus continued to love and even honour Judas Iscariot. Jesus had chosen Judas and they had travelled together for nearly three years. He must have been trusted because he was the treasurer. At a meal it was a mark of honour for the host to give a portion of food to one of the guests. Jesus appealed to Judas’ conscience [v.21] and then, by giving him the morsel of food, He appealed to his heart. Here is love, knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus chose to honour him! At that moment Judas must also have realised that Jesus knew what he was planning to do. Jesus didn’t excuse Judas, but neither was He acrimonious or vengeful.
How are we going to respond to those people who betray us? Will it be to desire their punishment or to forgive them? We may not easily get rid of negative emotions, and the rebuilding of trust cannot be guaranteed, but revenge will only be counterproductive. In the Old Testament we see the forgiveness of people who betrayed him, most clearly portrayed in the life of Joseph. Abused, hated, put in a pit, and sold into slavery, his brothers thought they had seen the back of Joseph, but twenty-seven years later they met again unexpectedly in Egypt, where Joseph was now Prime Minister. Joseph’s response to them was to say, “You meant for evil against me, but God meant it for good,” and he blessed them [Genesis 50:20-21].
Is there someone who betrayed and hurt you and whom you have not forgiven? What is the negative impact of unforgiveness in a person’s life?
Do you think that David’s reaction was a godly or ungodly reaction? What are your reasons for your answer? If it was ungodly why do you think it is included in Scripture?