Stabbed in the Back (Todd's Story)Have you ever had a friend turn on you? The scary truth about friendship is when you open yourself up to your friends, you also open yourself up to getting hurt by friends. In all my years of living on this earth, I haven't met one person who never got hurt by a friend. The friends I used to have left me out, let me down and even laughed at my expense. I remember one time in high school, I was heading to the same cafeteria table where I had sat with my friends a thousand times before, and just as I was getting ready to sit down, I overheard them talking about what they were planning to do that night. When they saw me coming, they kind of shushed each other and stopped what they were saying in mid-sentence. They didn't want me to be a part of whatever they had planned—that hurt. Being left out is never fun. My friends have let me down. My friends have lied to me, broken plans they made with me, promised one thing to me, and did the opposite. I bet you have had that happen to you a few times too. I've also been made fun of by my friends. They made fun of my hair or the clothes I had on. They even made fun of me for being a Christian. I want to remind you that Jesus understands what it feels like to be left out, let down, and even laughed at. Matthew 26:36-56 records when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane just hours before He would be crucified for the sins of the world. He asks three of His disciples to come a little further into the garden with Him, and He asks them to pray for Him. Jesus had spent three years with these guys. They were His closest friends. He needed them now more than ever before, but in His hour of need, His disciples kept falling asleep rather than being by His side.Not only did Jesus' friends fall asleep on Him in His hour of need, but also one of them, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Him. Judas sold out the best friend a person could ever have for 30 pieces of silver. When the guards came to arrest Jesus and to take Him away, His disciples left Jesus behind to save their own necks. They were more concerned for themselves than for Jesus. How much do you think that hurt Jesus? I'm guessing a lot. Here is the big question of the day: How did Jesus deal with all that hurt and pain? The first thing I want you to see is that Jesus didn't retaliate. He didn't get revenge. I would have. Here He is, God in the flesh, and everyone has left Him, and now His accusers are standing by His cross as He is dying for their sins. I would have said, "you think this is funny? Let me show you what is funny." I would have immediately turned the first guy who laughed at me into a donkey. Not his whole body, just his head. Then we would see who they laughed at.But Jesus didn't do that. Not only that, but Jesus refused to give in to feeling sorry for Himself. Jesus never held a pity party. Jesus was different. He refused to be motivated by revenge, hate, bitterness, anger, or self-pity. What was Jesus' reaction? He refused to get bitter, and He reached out in love. He forgave those who had abandoned Him and let Him down. When someone rejects you, the natural reaction is to reject them back, but that will only worsen the situation. Rather than rejecting them, forgive them, and then move on with your life. If your friend is sorry for what they did, give them a second chance and start over again with them. If they could care less about the hurt they put you through, it might be time to distance yourself from that friendship. Don't hate that person. Don't wish terrible things would happen to them, like praying they would get explosive diarrhea for the rest of their life. Forgive them and move on to what God has ahead for your life. Be kind to them, continue to pray for them, and be there for them if they ever need you. Do what Jesus did.
1. Read Matthew 26:36-56. List the times that Jesus' friends let him down.
2. How have your friends let you down in the past? What happened?
3. How did you respond to them after they hurt you?
4. Look up Matthew 18:21—35. What does Jesus say to us in verse 35 about how God will treat us if we don't forgive those who have hurt us?
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