Category Archives: christian living

Intimate Betrayal

I’ve invited my husband, Jesse to write this post with me as the topic that I had in mind rang a lot of bells for both of us. I’m grateful that he accepted. This post is a merging of both of our thoughts and writing. Get ready, it’s a long one!

 

I (Nicole) have heard more Sunday morning messages about God taking on the form of man to identify with our humanness than I can count. I don’t know that I’ve ever truly believed them. There are lots of reasons for my disbelief most of them having to do with my insistence that it would be difficult for him to truly identify with my personal experiences as a woman and a wife. Reading Matthew 26 and 27 helped me to see how wrong I have been. Many of you have been praying for Jesse and I through the years as we have struggled with harsh truths in our marriage. Truths about our connectedness, purity, honesty, unconditionalness. How could a perfect God identify and connect with me, personally and empathetically, given the level of intimate betrayal I have experienced? Enter Judas Iscariot.

 

The first verse that really stood out to both of us was Matthew 26:23 “Jesus replied, ‘The one who dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me”. My Jesus, the God of the heavens and the earth, is a multidimensional God. He is more than the God who rides in on a cloud of glory. He is also the man who experienced the hurt that results from the most intimate betrayal in all of history. A betrayal that is signified by the very sign if intimacy itself – a kiss. He has experienced the betrayal of a friend and confidant who shared in the closest of traditions at one of the most personal moments of Jesus life – his last supper. And this God/Man can surely identify with the painful betrayals of my heart.

 

While I (Jesse) was reading I was thinking that Judas apparently didn’t really, deep down, know Jesus. He spent a lot of time with him, but we know that he had his hand in the till all along. At the last supper, right after Jesus has clearly stated that he knows he’s going to be betrayed Judas joins the others in saying, “Surely it is not I?” (26:25) It’s as if he thought he could somehow fool the Son of God. Which made me wonder, how well do I really know Him? Even though I’ve spent all of my life sitting in churches and Bible studies, do I think I can fool him too? Am I ready to abandon him when he wants to invite me into his Kingdom instead of delivering the goodies I’m expecting? Does that turn into a justification for sin, or at least for a lack of effort in pursuing a better relationship with him? After all, why bother with all this God business if he won’t do what I want? Reading about Judas leads me to ask myself some serious questions.

 

What stood out to me (Jesse) the most in this passage is that Judas represents the difference between remorse and repentance. Matt. 27:3 tells us that Judas “felt remorse.” Remorse to the point of death. Judas publicly acknowledged his sin and obviously felt awful about it. But he didn’t repent. I wondered as I read this: how many times have I felt just terrible about something I’ve done – and that was it? The fruit of remorse is, at best, an abiding sense of guilt, shame, and self pity. Repentance is something else again. A repentant Judas might have done something to show a real turning from sin, not just feel bad about it. This challenges me because for some reason, even though it feels terrible, remorse over my sins has been much easier than true repentance. Probably because it doesn’t require me to do anything except sit with my self-pity. 

One of my (Nicole’s) favorite Over the Rhine songs is Poughkeepsie from the ‘Good Dog, Bad Dog’ album. The lyrics talk abou

t being “drunk on self pity, scorned all that’s been given me, I would drink from a bottle labeled Sure Defeat”. As I read Jesse’s reflections I think that’s the kind of hopelessness he’s writing about. The turn in the song comes when hope falls from the heavens allowing us to cast our worries to the sky. Grace. 

 

So, here’s the hope of grace for us: I (Jesse) noticed that in the very midst of his betrayal, Jesus still calls Judas his “friend.” (26:50) That’s staggering. It tells me that Jesus isn’t writing anybody off, not even me. At the ultimate moment, he was still ready to embrace Judas as a “friend.” And it tells me (Nicole) that our God is the God of reconciliation. The restorer of even the most broken, deceitful relationships. He is a God who can undoubtedly identify with my hearts desire to experience renewed intimacy and recovery from betrayal. And so we both rejoice. What an amazing Savior!

 

Tomorrow I’ll be reading Luke 1-3.


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Unprepared

So, I’m still working through The 40 Day Challenge (reading the 4 Gospels in 40 days) and have been stuck on Matthew Chapters 23-25 for a couple of days now. I haven’t wanted to move on until I had totally digested whatever it is that God is trying to get me to swallow. Here’s where I have been most hung up: 

 

Matthew 24:36-39  36“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

I like to think that being a Christian for 16 years qualifies me for being ready. But am I really? Or am I more like those in the days before the flood. I hate to admit it, but if I’m being honest I’m closer to the latter. 

 

With this thought in mind, before I put this post up I decided to track how many of the 10 commandments I bust in a day. Not pretty. Here’s what I have learned about myself yesterday: I still have many, many false idols and a few gods before Him (most involve work); speaking the Lord’s name in vain continues to be a problem; while I am not a liar my truth does have a rather taffy-like consistency; I covet much (co-worker got new SAAB convertible and I drooled); and finally while no actual murders were committed several were plotted with alarming amounts of detail.

 

“The people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving into marriage” v.38 has really challenged me. While I am no longer a party girl, I do move through life feeling pretty comfortable and enjoying the finer things (eating and drinking). And I spend a lot of time focused on horizontal relationships with family members, friends and coworkers (marrying and giving into marriage). My challenge the last couple of days has been to become a bit less comfortable, a lot more alert, and to make sure that I am keeping the inside of my cup as clean as the outside (Matthew 23:25,26). 

 

Thankfully, yesterday was not the day of the coming of the Son of Man. And thankfully today wasn’t either. Until then I will continue to keep asking Him to perfect in me the work that He has generously started and will pray for enough grace to cover what is still undone. 

 

What are your thoughts on Matthew 23-25? Leave a comment! 

 

Tomorrow I will be reading Matthew 26-28.

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