I know a little bit about betrayal. Almost two years ago, I found myself in an airport crying alone because I had been betrayed. The specifics aren't important, but basically, my best friend had lied and hurt me deeply. I looked at my hands and wondered how I could hold so much hurt when I was so weak. The truth is, I couldn't. I couldn’t handle being betrayed, so I held onto the words of a choir song derived from Psalms 139: "If I should descend into the abyss or ride on a blade of light and escape to the heavens you are with me." I was not alone because God was there, and I knew that I was going to be okay. I would rather go through the pain of breaking a bone than experience that again, yet I know I had only the smallest taste of the kind of betrayal Jesus endured on the cross.
This Holy Week, I've been thinking about the story of Christ's suffering especially in terms of the betrayal and isolation he experienced. Jesus’ story is one I've heard upwards of a thousand times: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” However, no matter how many times the story is rolled around and adapted into songs, movies, musicals, and even hip hop dance routines, the actual story resists being reduced into a cliche. It still has relevance and meaning the first time and the thousandth time.
One of Christ's closest friends murdered him, his other friends said they never knew him, God the Father turned his back on him, and the sun itself stopped shining. Add in the torture and humiliation of crucifixion, a punishment that he did not deserve, and it’s no wonder that he asked for the cup to pass from him. Jesus was physically separate from those he loved, emotionally drained, and spiritually isolated. The black rot of all the sins of the world were put on him, and the world rejected him though he came to save it, and in his agony on the cross, Jesus released a guttural, desperate cry: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” He could not hold the despair of isolation inside his body even as his body was breaking and being taken away from him. At the hands of those he loved, he endured more suffering than any other person. Talk about serious levels of suffering and betrayal.
Yet, he loved us, and he pursues us even when we screw up and betray him again and again.
Jesus willingly gave his life so that we can live in the promise that God will never abandon us. He wants us to become children of God and take care of us even as we struggle to do the right thing. He's always with us and gives grace to humble because he already walked the road to be the sacrifice. No matter where we are or what we are going through, in an airport or in a congregation of Christians, we are never alone. As Romans 10:12-13 says, “The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” God is faithful and compassionate and made a way for us.
The photo featured is an Easter-themed cheesecake I made. In France, eggs, chicks, and "flying" bells are traditional decorations for Pâques.