Scripture: John 13:21-38
Observation: During his Passover meal, Jesus says that one of the disciples will betray him and then gives Judas (his disciple and ultimately his betrayer) permission to go and turn him over to those trying to kill him. Jesus finishes by saying goodbye to his disciples and encourages them to love one another.
Application: In elementary school, I experienced some intense betrayal. My “BFF” (notice the intentional use of quotation marks) bought a new set of BFF necklaces – you know, the ones where one necklace says “best” and the other says “friends” – and then she gave the other half – TO SOMEONE ELSE.
I was hurt. I was confused. I was furious. Apparently, I was former BFFs with Judas 2.0.
Betrayal cuts deep. While we quickly heal from elementary school-level betrayals, other hurts don’t fade quite as easily. When our spouses cheat on us… when our parents systematically reject us… when our friends turn their backs on us when we need them most… we’re left with hard questions.
How did I get here?
What did I do to deserve it?
We become so consumed with our pain, assuming that pain is a punishment, an inevitable consequence for our own brokenness. We forget that it’s the pain that leads us to purpose.
Jesus understood betrayal at the deepest level. After washing the feet of his friends and sitting around the table with them for a meal, he has to acknowledge that one of them is more foe than friend. Judas, his disciple, his follower, his friend, is about to go tell Jesus’s persecutors exactly where he is so that they can arrest him and eventually kill him. This betrayal is a death sentence.
But, this betrayal wasn’t a forever death sentence. In fact, the pain of this betrayal triggered the purpose, the very reason Jesus came in the first place:
“’The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him.’” (v. 31)
Pain to purpose.
How do we view our pain and suffering? Is it a punishment or for a purpose?
It’s hard to see the purpose in our pain when we’re in the middle of it. Pain clouds our vision, pushes us into survival moment, ignites voices of doubt, and triggers our self-protection mechanisms.
But pain is not simple punishment. Pain led to the cross – it led from death to life, from hurt to hope, from despair to resurrection.
What if we viewed our pain as an opportunity rather than a punishment, something to embrace rather than simply survive?
Prayer: God, I pray you’ll help me see all my pain as an opportunity – an opportunity to step closer into the purpose you have for me. I pray you’ll help me navigate pain with the same focus, determination, and grace that Jesus navigated his. Amen.