My children and I are reading day by day the story of the week that Jesus went to the cross. Today we read about Judas being paid off to betray Jesus. On my own I'm reading meditations on the Stations of the Cross and started with number one this morning: the Garden of Gethsemane, which ends with the arrival of Judas to betray Jesus into the hands of His killers.
I went through my morning routine with those thoughts on my mind and it brought me back to a time in eighth grade when my best friend betrayed me. Here's how it went. We were at a "boy-girl" party, the kind where the entire class is invited (and shows up). The kind where some kids hang out playing pool or cards or something like that. By eighth grade the match-ups were going strong. This one was "going out with" that one, although it didn't seem like they ever actually went anywhere. It was more of an identity thing, a bit of prestige, depending on who you were paired up with.
My "best friend" took me off to the side during this party and asked me who I liked. Now, I was no dummy. She'd shown herself to be less than trust-worthy before. I was not about to reveal my true crush. So I named a boy in the class that I could care less about, that was currently "dating" a girl I couldn't stand. What could my friend do with that information? And what did I care?
Sure enough my friend scooted away a short time later and returned with the-girl-I-couldn't-stand. "You like Danny?", she asked. Then she continued, not waiting for my response, "well we're not going out any more. And I think he likes you too. He wants to ask you out. He's in the other room, waiting". She gave me a sly smile. My friend stood behind her looking as though she'd swallowed the Cheshire Cat. I rolled my eyes and played along.
I don't remember what happened after that. But I do remember coming out of the situation more triumphant than not. I'd known the betrayal was coming and so I'd been able to script it. Most of the sting was gone. Yet knowing I'd been chosen as the object of junior high trickery still hurt. To have a "friend" who'd behave so callously? It made me angry...and sad.
I wonder about Jesus. He knew, long beforehand, that Judas would betray Him. Yet He let Judas into His circle of friends. He acted on trust toward him. And I'd almost say that He scripted His betrayal too. But the scene in the Garden beforehand shows otherwise. It was His Father's plan and it grieved Him to know how it would go. But He chose to follow it through. His betrayal, even though He knew it was coming, hurt. It hurt a lot. It was part His being fully human.
As we approach Good Friday and then Easter, remember this: we have a Savior who knows the hurt we feel because He has felt it Himself. Even more, think of His love that He knew everything He would endure and still did it - for us!