Messages from Pastor Raddatz
Sunday March 7, 2021 Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX
RETURN FROM BETRAYAL, John 18:1-11
Adapted from “RETURN” resources, Lent CPH
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
God urges us to be true to Him, but even when we fail, He intercedes to provide blessings of forgiveness through the Cross.
That the hearers would be courageous in forgiveness and purposefully build trust among each other.
On this, our third week in Lent, our attention turns to the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. Judas, His betrayer, is present, and we see him in the company of the soldiers arrayed against Jesus, standing in the dark (literally and figuratively), turning the very Son of God over to the chief priests and Pharisees who seek to kill Him. It is a somber and sobering scene, punctuated by the astonishing declaration of Jesus in the face of betrayal: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me?” (John 18:11).
Jesus knew His betrayal would come, and He knew through whom it would come because Judas had been chosen for the task (cf. John 13:18). After Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He explained that He was giving them an example of servant leadership. He then referred to His imminent betrayal, quoting Psalm 41:9, “He who ate My bread has lifted his heel against Me” (John 13:18). Even though we have not been “chosen” to betray Jesus, we do so routinely.
Our sinful nature includes a propensity to sin by betraying others or even by betraying Jesus as we deny or even repudiate our faith in order to save face or win financial gain. When we study Judas’s betrayal of Jesus and really consider the implications of it, our conscience may be aroused, and we may experience extreme guilt over our sins. That is certainly appropriate and is an expected result of the application of Law. But tonight, the Gospel shines through: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Jesus takes our betrayal from us and crucifies it on the cross. And try as we might, God will overcome our sins and bless us.
John is the only writer who lets us know that Jesus often met with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden. Jesus and his disciples may have camped there for the Passover festival and at other times when they visited Jerusalem. (Schaff, Phillip Editor; A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series 1)
Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed. He knew it was the Father’s will that he go to the cross. He did not go into hiding, but kept his actions out in the open. He knew that Judas would become the wolf in sheep’s clothing and turn him in. How insightful that he was tolerated among the disciples as often is the case with a wolf in sheep’s skin.
Judas secures a “cohort” of roman soldiers. This is a tenth of a legion, which could max out at about 500-600 soldiers. The cohort with Judas was probably not that big, but the Roman leaders may have sent a large amount of these soldiers because they were concerned about a riot among the people. Others, from the Jewish Chief Priests and the Pharisees came along bearing clubs and torches. It may have looked like a scene from a Frankenstein movie where the villagers were approaching Frankenstein’s lair with rakes, shovels and clubs.
JESUS CONFRONTS EVIL
In verse 4, Jesus comes forward to the crowd!!! He knew all that was going to happen to him. He asks them who do you seek? They answer Jesus of Nazareth. He tells them that he is the one they are seeking, and they withdrew. The soldiers have come seeking a man and instead encounter the divine I AM and are compelled to kneel (“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” [Philippians 2:10]) (CPH RETURN resources). He confronts the powers of darkness and darkness retreats. Jesus’ ultimate desire is to do the Father’s will.
We, too, betray our Lord’s will when he allows some kind of evil to happen in our life and we come at his throne with the sticks and stones of our anger feeling God has betrayed us. Why did he let “that” happen to me? When other’s tempt us to defy our heavenly Father’s will we recoil at a full confession that I follow Jesus, and this is not what he wants for me. When someone hurts us, we want to hurt that person back and we betray our Father’s will by not loving one another as he has loved us?
RETURN FROM BETRAYAL THROUGH THE CROSS
ALL BETRAYAL IS TAKEN FROM US BY JESUS ON THE CROSS
There is good news!!! All of our betrayal is taken from us by Jesus on the cross. In v. 11: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me?” Jesus is well aware of where this is all going, and He willingly chooses to move it in that direction. It is a powerful truth that Jesus took our sins upon Himself knowing with absolute clarity what that meant for Him and (perhaps more important) for us.
A betrayal is anything that seeks to make Jesus secondary to our own ambitions and desires to sinfully elevate ourselves.
It echoes the invitation that we heard on Ash Wednesday from the prophet Joel: “Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13). “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
Astonishingly, Jesus knew all of this in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew about Judas’s betrayal, sure, but He also knew about yours. He knew that you would fail. He knew that you would betray Him in fifty little ways without even intending to. And He knew that He had the solution. “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me?” (John 18:11).
God says, “Return to Me! I want you to be true to Me, but even when you fail at that, I have already stepped in to provide blessings!” He offers forgiveness. He offers peace. And He offers the strength to turn back and receive His blessings.
When we return to God, we receive all that He has promised. We are washed in the blood of the Lamb, and our sins are taken away from us. We are strengthened in Holy Communion and in the Word of God, which offers us comfort, but also gives us words to speak and stories to tell others that they also may turn back to God. In Him, all is made right. All is made clean. All is reconciled. (CPH Resource Return).
CAN BETRAYAL BE FORGIVEN BETWEEN PEOPLE?
Betrayal between two people can be forgiven and trust can be built. It can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit and it takes time. It takes more time than fixing any broken pipes that froze in your home in the last couple of weeks here in Texas!!
In your worship folder I have put an insert. I found this article on “THE ROLE OF FORGIVENSS TO BUILD TRUST” by Randall Conley. I think it has some good thoughts and we can apply this to our topic for this morning. Please take it home and spend some time digesting it. Tell me what you think next week by letting me know the pros and cons or any insights you may have.
God put it best in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
May we praise God that he has forgiven all our betrayal and ask his help to forgive ourselves and one another, Amen.
John F. Raddatz, Pastor
“God is Faithful”, 1 Corinthians 1:9
The Role of Forgiveness in Rebuilding Trust – 8 Principles to Remember by Randall Conley
Withholding forgiveness from someone is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Suffering a betrayal of trust can be one of the most difficult and challenging times in your life. Depending on the severity of the offense, some people choose not to pursue recovery of the relationship. For those that do, the process of restoration can take days, weeks, months, or even years. If you choose to invest the time and energy to rebuild a relationship with someone who has broken your trust, you have to begin with forgiveness.
I’ve experienced this personally in my own life and can attest to the fact that trust can be rebuilt and the relationship can be stronger and healthier than it was before. But it requires the parties involved to step out in faith, invest the time and effort, and be accountable to each other.
There are many misconceptions about forgiveness, like it’s a display of weakness, it lets the offending party off the hook, or opens the door to people taking advantage of you. Those are misconceptions for a reason: they’re wrong. As you consider forgiving someone who has betrayed your trust, here are 8 principles to remember:
- Forgiveness is a choice – It’s not a feeling or an attitude. Forgiving someone is a mental decision, a choice, that you have complete control over. You don’t have to wait until you “feel” like forgiving someone.
- Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting – You don’t have to forget the betrayal in order to forgive. You may never forget what happened, and those memories will creep in occasionally, but you can choose to forgive and move on.
- Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate consequences – Some people are reticent to extend forgiveness because somehow they think it lets the other person off-the-hook from what they did wrong. Not true. Consequences should still be enforced even if you grant forgiveness.
- Forgiving doesn’t make you a weakling or a doormat – Forgiveness shows maturity and depth of character. If you allow repeated violations of your trust, then you’re a doormat. But forgiving others while adhering to healthy boundaries is a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Don’t forgive just to avoid pain – It can be easy to quickly grant forgiveness in order to avoid conflict and pain in the relationship. This usually is an attempt at conflict avoidance rather than true forgiveness. Take the appropriate amount of time to think through the situation and what will be involved in repairing the relationship before you grant forgiveness.
- Don’t use forgiveness as a weapon – If you truly forgive someone, you won’t use their past behavior as a tool to harm them whenever you feel the need to get a little revenge.
- Forgiveness isn’t dependent on the other person showing remorse – Whether or not the person who violated your trust apologizes or shows remorse for their behavior, the decision to forgive rests solely with you. Withholding forgiveness doesn’t hurt the other person, it only hurts you, and it’s not going to change anything that happened in the past. Forgiveness is up to you.
- Forgiveness is freedom – Holding on to pain and bitterness drains your energy and negatively colors your outlook on life. Granting forgiveness allows you to let go of the negative emotions that hold you back and gives you the ability to move forward with freedom and optimism.
Forgiveness is letting go of all hopes for a better past.
Forgiveness is the first step in rebuilding a relationship with someone who has betrayed your trust. If you skip this step you take the risk of trying to rebuild your relationship on shifting sand and eventually trust will crumble again. Start with forgiveness, you won’t regret it.
Current Weeks Message
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
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Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020
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