This is Tigger. Tigger is our dog. He has a small problem. You see, Tigger doesn’t have many friends. Being the lonely dog that he is, Tigger has tried to make a friend. The only problem with that is… he was making friends with a SKUNK! Yep, that’s right! A SKUNK! The reason he looks so unhappy in this picture is because he is getting a major bath to de-stinkify himself… for the second time this summer! He keeps trying to befriend this little creature and every single time, he gets it!
Ever been skunked? Not literally (though I’m sure there are some very interesting stories out there). I think that we’ve all been skunked at some point. By a co-worker, a friend, a relative, or a spouse, we’ve all been there. Betrayal. It’s hard to get over and sometimes we never seem to be able to let it go. It’s in every movie, every book, and songs are saturated with the bitterness that comes from the treachery.
If you have had a chance to see Disney’s High School Musical, you will see a great example of how betrayal affects relationships. It’s a much cleaner remake of the 1978 film Grease where the two main characters Troy and Gabriella meet during Christmas vacation. Much to Troy’s surprise, Gabriella switches schools mid-year and they are re-united. They begin to form a relationship that brings out a side of them that their “friends” aren’t too happy about. So the two very different groups of friends get together to “break them up”. They betray them by using what they know about each individual against them to achieve their own purposes. The outcome? Unhappiness, sadness, the low point that you get in nearly every movie. Long story short, they succeed. To see how that ends up, watch the movie!
In the book Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of boys are stranded on an island and though they enjoy their new found freedom at first, things get out of hand and a power struggle takes place. Jack and Ralph part ways and the group divides. Though it seems that each group is secure, Ralph’s “clan” begins shrinking as boys defect from his group to Jack’s. The story progresses from this act of betrayal to end in many deaths and human hunting.
Ok all you country fans. Bring out your old Garth Brooks cds for this one! Papa Loved Mama is a classic story of betrayal. Just look at the lyrics…
“Well, it was bound to happen and one night it did
Papa came home and it was just us kids
He had a dozen roses and a bottle of wine
If he was lookin to surprise us, he was doin fine
I heard him cry for mama up and own the hall
Then I heard a bottle break against the bedroom wall
That old diesel engine made an eerie sound
When papa fired it up and headed into town.
Well, the picture in the paper showed the scene real well
Papas rig was buried in the local motel
The desk clerk said he saw it all real clear
He never hit the brakes and he was shifting gears.
Mama was a looker
Lord, how she shined
Papa was a good’n
But the jealous kind
Papa loved mama
Mama loved men
Mamas in the graveyard
Papas in the pen. “
Papa is a truck driver whose gone almost all the time and Mama is left home with the kids and apparently has an eye for other men. So Papa comes home to surprise her and, you got it, she’s “out”. He tracks her to a motel and drives his truck right through. He goes to jail, she dies… happy ending huh?
Betrayal. An awful word. When we feel betrayed there is one place that we can look for understanding, strength, and guidance. Jesus. If there was an award for the most gut-wrenching betrayals, Jesus would win. Of course our minds automatically go to the betrayal by Judas. One of the 12 disciples that spent day and night with Jesus. He had seen miracle upon miracle. He had witnessed the love of Christ, the wisdom, the compassion and mercy, yet he chose to betray the Son of Man.
“And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” -Matthew 26:21
“‘Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’
While 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. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.” -Matthew 26:45b-50
The only conclusion that we have to this relationship is Jesus being crucified for our sins and Judas committing suicide.
“So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” -Matthew 27:5
The second betrayal that comes to mind is the betrayal of Peter. One of the closest disciples of Christ, the one of which Jesus says will be the Cornerstone, and yet here we see betrayal… not once… not twice… but THREE times. Jesus knows this and even tells His disciples that they will flee from Him when His hour comes, but Peter disagrees…
“Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
‘ ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’
Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’
‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’
But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.” -Matthew 26:31-35
“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said.
But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’
He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.’
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” -Matthew 26:69-75
Unlike the story of Jesus and Judas, we have a little happier ending to this betrayal. After Jesus’ death and then His resurrection, we see a picture of peace coming between the two. Jesus letting Peter know that He is forgiven and Peter affirming his devotion to Jesus the Christ.
“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” -John 21:1-14
This was, as it says above, the third time that Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. The reason that I chose this particular one is because, in Bible times, when you sat down to a meal with a group of people, it signified that you were at peace with them. Not only does Jesus provide for them while they still are unaware of who He is, He also shows them the love and compassion of forgiveness by sharing a meal with them despite their fleeing in such a horrible time. And now it is time for a challenge to Peter…
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me?’
He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’
The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.'” -John 21:15-17
So you have two different scenarios, one of a betrayal followed by a devastation that eats away at Judas until he takes his own life. The other is of a betrayal that is followed by bitter realization of the truth, remorse, and return.
Now lets shift the focus to us. Yes, we have been betrayed so often. More times than we care to count I’m sure. But how many times do we betray Christ on any given day? Do we dare count those? We look down on Peter and Judas, yet we hold on to sin that pries us from our Savior. We cherish this evil/darkness inside so much that we allow it to place a barrier between us and the One who suffered, died, and rose again to save us.
When Tigger gets skunked, he is shut outside until he gets a bath. When we skunk God, we are shut outside until we come to a bitter realization of the truth, remorse, and return. He gladly baths us in His mercy and we are restored to a right relationship with Him.
We are left with a choice, Judas or Peter? Which one will you be? The one who skunked Jesus and ended up going mad at the separation from His Lord. Or the one who skunked Jesus only to realize, remorse, and return? Every day we have a choice, who will you choose to be today?
“Do you love me?”