“Even my own familiar friend…who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” -Psalm 41:9
Betrayed! To add further insult to all the injury (and insult) we’ve already seen, betrayal played a major role in the unfolding of events leading up to the cross—betrayal and slander intended to destroy.
That’s the one kind of bullying I didn’t mention yesterday—the kind that has been so deadly nowadays in the form of “cyberbullying.” As government agencies troubled about this have said, you can be bullied without ever coming face to face with the bullies. They can very effectively bully you behind your back, just by running you down in others’ estimation.
In Jesus’ case the frustrated bullying mushroomed to downright plotting of His death—at someone else’s hands, of course. Cyberbullies, Hitlers, and religious hypocrites often don’t soil their own hands with the dirty work; they just try to bring it about at someone else’s hands (Jhn 18:31; Mk 15:11).
From the time Jesus began His earthly ministry, this kind of bullying assaulted Him. It seems to have arisen from two motives: 1) the envy Pilate perceived (Mk 15:9-10), and 2) the rebukes Christ repeatedly voiced about religious hypocrisy (e.g. Mt 23:14-15,23-25).
Certain people don’t want competition—or exposure and rebuke—or anyone just getting in their path to self-aggrandizement.
That seems to have been the case not only with the Pharisees, but also with Judas. A commentary I just read notes that his betrayal happened right on the heels of Jesus’ rebuking him for calling Mary’s pouring out of expensive fragrant oil to anoint her Lord’s feet “wasteful.” Judas was the money-box keeper, and that’s where he thought the money ought to have gone—so he could get his hands on it like the rest from which he was pilfering (Jhn 12:3-6).
What sordid little criminal activity! And what an attitude toward Christ! He wasn’t “worth it”!
But Jesus knew what Judas’ heart was like before He chose him (Jhn 6:70), and He knew beforehand that Judas would betray Him (Jhn 6:64,71). He knew what that little verse tucked in Psalm 41:9 prophesied, as well as Zechariah 11:12-13. Surely He also knew ahead of time how Psalm 41:5-7 would apply to Him. Yet He willingly submitted to it.
What does this say to us? That even when things look all wrong, Jesus knows what’s going on and is working everything together for final good (Rom 8:28). And, if we’ve ever been betrayed or slandered or otherwise plotted against, we can rest assured that we do not have a High Priest Who can’t identify with all our trials. Even foreseen betrayal brings plenty of pain, so He can identify. By the same token, through experiencing the kinds of suffering Christ went through, we can more fully identify and relate with Him. This is “the fellowship of His suffering” that Paul desired in order to know Christ more fully and “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me” (Ph 3:10-12).
Yes, all things work together for good, even friends who break bread with us and lift up their heel, or tongue, against us.