Have you ever been misunderstood by a friend? Used? Betrayed? I know I’m not the only one. It’s not easy to forgive the people who deeply hurt you. It’s hard to ask forgiveness, but it can be even harder to give it.
Most of the time pride is what keeps us from forgiving others. We would much rather hold our heads high and dwell in self-pity, or punish them with the guilt of their own actions. But what does Jesus think of our actions, and what would he do if he were in our shoes? After all, the savior of the world walked the earth, experiencing many of the same temptations we are confronted with each day.
So, let’s take a look. It hurts when friends betray us, and it’s hard forgiving something that causes so much pain. Jesus had many people betray him. He felt the same feelings we do when we are betrayed. Jesus was surrounded by sinners, some of whom were His most devoted followers. One of these sinners was a woman he met while eating with the Pharisees one night. Walking over to the table, she began to weep because of her sins and find refuge in Christ’s presence. She poured a bottle of expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus, and wiped her tears from his feet (Luke 7:36-50). This was a very unsettling act. Many, including some of His followers, didn’t understand the significance of what she had done, and took it wrongly. Christ, on the other hand, defended her, saying that the Pharisees should have done the same thing.
I’ve had many friends who would misunderstand me in a similar way. Sometimes they get angry at me, even when my intentions are pure. How did Jesus respond? He didn’t lash out at the Pharisees for their judgement. Instead he calmly defended the innocent, and forgave those who hurt Him.
As Jesus, God Himself, gave the last supper, he probably sat on a wood bench around a modest table with his disciples. He was speaking to them about what was about to happen. Imagine sitting around this table with all twelve of your best friends. People who you’ve called your brothers. Those that you could tell anything to, and you’re sure they’d never in a million years sell you out. As they sat, Jesus was telling them the time is near. The time they had talked about. The time was here that they dreaded. They had prepared for this but this was the night! This was it. It was for real. Their hearts were beating out of their chests, but Jesus was calm. When would He be arrested? Everyone wondered. What then? He felt the need to take the fresh bread and break it, and pour the wine. And as he did I’m sure the crumbs fell through the air, gathering around with the dust. The smell in the room was of stale wine, fresh bread and men who’d been walking for miles. Blistered feet and dirty clothes. They are all very tired, scared for themselves and most of all their Master Jesus.
After he had given his word and the Last supper he knew that one of his disciples had betrayed him. John 13:27 says that After Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then told Judas, “What you are about to do, go and do it quickly.” So, he did. Then Peter said to him, “I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” All the other disciples spoke likewise, but Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times that very night.
I can only imagine the sorrow Jesus felt. Two of his best friends, his brothers, were to betray Him. One sold him in exchange for silver, and the other denied Him in exchange for security and comfort.
Jesus didn’t choose his followers by their faith in him. He had followers that were prostitutes, tax collectors, murderers, and thieves – none of them were perfect people. There’s no such thing. Jesus was the only perfect person, who lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserved.
People will wrong you, hurt you, and betray you. We’re all human and we all sin, yet we all must forgive. Regardless of how bad the person has betrayed us, or regardless of the act they posed upon us, we must forgive them just like Jesus forgave us.
The next time someone hurts you, uses you, or neglects you, stop and ask yourself: what can I do to reflect Jesus in this situation? Remember, God uses even the hardest struggles to help us grow and mature in our relationship with Him. If you truly want to be like Christ, forgive like He forgave you. Let the light of Christ radiate around you!