Some of the most difficult betrayals in life come through those emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual scars caused by family members. There may be nothing more distressing than the realization that someone in your life, who was supposed to protect, nurture, and guide you, was in fact the one who hurt you, neglected you, or led you astray.
Many of us silently carry these scars. The weight of emptiness, where there was once abundance, can leave even the most optimistic person lonely and scared. This is true, not only because of our initial loss, but also because we are then afraid to open ourselves up to another person in the same way—especially to someone who reminds us of our betrayer.
Since sin entered the world, our community has been broken—whether in our natural or spiritual family. Adam and Eve betrayed God, and later, one of the disciples betrayed Christ. Two relationships—originally initiated by God—were now severed as a result of man’s selfishness. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, sin entered the world and disrupted perfect community with God. After the disciple’s betrayal, a new chapter began in God’s redemptive plan with Christ’s journey to the cross, resulting in the restoration of our relationship with God and each other.
Christ’s broken body and shed blood purchased righteousness for us who believe, but we await the complete restoration of all things in the future. In other words, we find ourselves at the intersection of the “already” and the “not yet.” In the waiting for God’s full restoration of creation, some people have doubted God’s goodness and promises, especially those who are still in broken relationships. As disciples of Jesus, we must sacrifice our desires and self-interests to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Can there be a greater act of love than to release our pride, expectations, and scars into God’s hands? This, Church, is what sets us apart. We are holy because Christ’s sacrifice makes us holy. Therefore, forgiveness is not to be given in our own strength, but rather through obedience to God in light of the cross and the power of His Spirit within us. May we forgive others as we have been forgiven.
Lord, you know what it means to be betrayed and hurt by others. Still, You gave Your life for us and forgave the undeserving. As I receive Your forgiveness for all my sin, give me the strength to extend that same love and forgiveness to others.
Items Needed: paper, pen, & bowl
Give everyone in your family a piece of paper. Ask them to prayerfully write down the name of the person who has hurt them most on a slip of paper. Also ask God to reveal anyone they have hurt within their family that they need to seek forgiveness from. Place those slips of paper under a bowl saying, “Christ’s body broken and blood shed for this sin.” For the next three days, pray for those people, and if possible, seek to reconcile with them. On Sunday, consider updating the rest of your family on your heart condition and the conditions of these relationships. Celebrate victories and encourage others in the “not yet.”
Many people outside of the church have been hurt by members of the church who claim to be acting on Christ’s behalf. Discuss how you could use this passage and your own testimony to explain that they are not alone in that pain and that Christ can empathize with and meet them in that pain. What would it look like to bring the gospel message to someone who does not realize their Lord and Savior was hurt and rejected by His family and by those He was giving His life to save?
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