There's a game called never have I ever where you have to say something you've never done before. If you've done that thing, you have to stand up and find a new seat.
I wonder how many people would stand up if you said, never have I ever betrayed someone.
I would stand up.
When I was in junior high school, I rode the bus to school. My best friend got off the bus with me because he lived across the street. We grew up together and did everything together. We were brothers. There wasn't a time I can remember without him. Then one day, when I got off the bus with him, something happened. I don't remember what it was or why I did it.
I started a fight with him that day. We fought outside until his mother came out to stop it. Then I lied and said my best friend said something bad about me so he would get in trouble. I don't remember what he said or if he said anything at all. I just know that I betrayed him that day.
We lost a lot of time together because of me. I wasn't there for him during some of the hardest years of a boy's life. When I think about betrayal, I think about my best friend.
After you've betrayed someone and realized how terrible of a sin it is, you feel this tremendous amount of guilt. You want so badly just to make it up, to make things right, but it's impossible. There's nothing you can say or do to make your betrayal disappear. You're stuck in guilt, like a wave of water drowning you. Your heart sinks... Your spirit is discouraged... Your mind is spent...
This is betrayal. It's the pain of being totally rejected by another person. It's an outright, direct degradation of who they are. I'm a betrayer. I caused that pain and I can never undo it.
And Jesus was betrayed. His own disciple whom he loved for three years chose riches instead of faithfulness. Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. It was intentional and conniving. It was not merely one disciple who betrayed Jesus, though. Many followed and later turned away. Many cheered and later chanted, "Crucify Him!" Many were blessed and then watched as they scourged His flesh.
In Mathew 25, Jesus relates Himself with the hungry, thirsty, stranger, poor, and imprisoned. When I betrayed my best friend, was I also betraying Jesus? What does that mean?
I feel my guilt is appropriate because of the sin I've committed. How can I accept forgiveness? Jesus took my betrayal upon Himself on the cross. I betrayed, and yet Jesus bore the consequences for my betrayal. He was crucified as a betrayer, even though He was betrayed and innocent.
Jesus said, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."
He forgave my sin.
I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I'm overcome. I feel I should say, sorry, but it's not right. It's the wrong response. The correct response is, Thank you. He has forgiven me, but I still have to apologize to my friend and amend the ways I've been wrong.
And there's more.
Jesus gave me his innocence. I'm no longer a betrayer. My betrayal has been replaced. I'm free of that bondage. I'm new again.
And there's more.
Jesus rose from the grave on the third day. He is stronger than death, incapable of staying down. He proved all He said and did by rising to confirm His work and our salvation.
And there's more.
Then He breathed on those who believe so they would be filled with the very Spirit of God.
This is grace. It's kindness. And now everything is different.
Don't call me a betrayer anymore. I've sinned, but it's not who I am. I'm who He says I am. Behold, all things have become new.