Bible Reading: Mark 14:69-72, ESV
As we think about the sacrifice of Jesus, we often focus on the unbearable physical pain He endured.
He was hit, flogged nearly to the point of death, and had a crown of thorns driven into His scalp. He was made to carry His own cross. Nails were punched through His flesh before He was hoisted into the air to suffocate in one of the most inhumane and cruel forms of capital punishment ever devised.
It’s hard to not focus on the pain He endured for us. But I want you to consider another way Jesus was made to suffer in the moments before His crucifixion. Consider the emotional pain Christ endured as those who were closest to Him turned their backs.
Of course, there was the moment when Jesus cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” —Matthew 27:46) as God the Father turned His face from His Son, which must have been the most crushing blow of all.
However, let’s look at the human element, Christ’s “inner circle.”
Jesus personally chose 12 disciples whom He poured Himself into. These men could almost be considered His earthly family, surrounding Him, learning from Him, and serving in His ministry. Jesus loved them, and yet He knew—long before they did, in fact—that a couple of these men would publicly betray Him.
Judas, certainly, is the one that comes instantly to mind. After all, it was his betrayal of Jesus that ultimately led to the crucifixion. We’re told in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered Judas…”
John 13:2 says that the devil put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. Judas went to the chief priests and officers, accepted a payment from them and then actively plotted how to betray Jesus into their hands when there wouldn’t be a crowd around Him.
Judas’ treachery was the ultimate betrayal, directly resulting in a sham trial and the agony of the cross. But I wonder if the second betrayal might not have hurt just as much as the first.
Along with James and John, Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends, whom He chose to be a witness to key moments in His earthly ministry. For instance, Peter was there for Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain and at Gethsemane on the eve of Christ’s sacrifice. He even drew a sword and tried to physically defend Jesus as He was being arrested (John 18:10).
Peter’s denial of Jesus—which, according to Mark, Jesus foretold prior to leaving for Gethsemane—must have stung deeply. As Jesus was being beaten and ridiculed (Mark 14:65), Peter was busy distancing himself from Christ (Mark 14:66-72). Three times people approached Peter to ask him if he was associated with Jesus, and three times Peter denied Him. “Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this Man of whom you speak!’” (Mark 14:71).
In the midst of Christ’s anguish, His friends turned their backs on Him. What emotional pain this must have caused, even as Jesus knew it was coming and understood that it had to be!
Maybe you’re reading this and it sounds a little too familiar. Maybe you have friends or family members who have turned their backs on you, or perhaps—like Judas—they were instrumental in causing the suffering you are now enduring. Maybe you’re struggling through pain and despair, and the people you thought you could depend on have disappeared. Maybe you’ve been hurt by others in the church. Bodily pain hurts physically, but emotional pain slices directly to your soul.
My friends, I’m here to tell you that people will let you down. People will turn their backs on you and cause you pain. But here’s the key—Jesus was forsaken, betrayed and crucified, but He conquered all of that! People are imperfect, but Christ is risen and victorious!
The Bible tells us not to put our faith into men or princes. Instead, this Easter place your eternity in the One Who endured scorn, pain, and—yes—betrayal from His friends, so that you may have a hope that extends far beyond the pitfalls and pains of this world.
Jesus suffered and died to save you from sin. Ask Him into your heart and life today.
Scripture Reference: Mark 14:69-72
69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.”
70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”
72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.