It was the weightiest moment in all of history. Jesus—God in the flesh—knelt and cried out to the heavenly Father with unimaginable agony. Christ’s anguish was so deep, and the stress of the moment so intense, that His pores began to seep blood. If ever there was a time when Jesus needed a friend to lean on, someone to help share His burden, it was there in the garden of Gethsemane.
Where was John, the one with whom Christ had such intimate friendship? Sleeping. Where was Peter, the reckless but faithful disciple who had vowed to stand with his Master come hell or high water? Sleeping. And where was Judas Iscariot, the follower to whom, in spite of his questionable character, Jesus had given amazing opportunities. Off plotting with religious leaders to plan the details of his betrayal.
Sadly, the one selfless person who had poured His life into so many others was about to pour out that very life with absolutely no support. No words of encouragement. No kind smile. No arm around the shoulder. Jesus came to bless the human race and humanity let Him down in His most fragile and vulnerable moment.
Within the span of several hours, the Roman soldiers—whom Jesus came to save—arrested Him with swords and spears, Judas betrayed Him, all of the disciples deserted Him, and Peter denied even knowing Him. As He hung on those horrible wooden beams, beaten bloody, pierced with nails, and barely clinging to life, Jesus peered through sinking eyelids at the crowd of spectators. Some were crying desperately, stricken with grief, while others only reveled in their cruelty. Their individual responses, however, mattered nothing. The words uttered by Christ continue to echo through the centuries, spoken for all men and women who would ever traverse this earth. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
How did Jesus respond when let down by others? With forgiveness! Not a word of malice did He utter. Not a jaded thought crossed His mind. There was only love—liquid love that flowed from His body in the form of blood.
I think it’s safe to say that every one of us has been let down, perhaps even betrayed, by other people at some point in our lives. Our tendency during such times is to become angry, cynical, and bitter. Over time, the accumulating effects of such deep disappointment can harden our hearts, steal our compassion, and leave us cold.
The problem, it seems, is that we fail to look beyond the cross, to realize that beyond our pain rises a blazing light of glory. Our God can—and will—redeem our every hurt if only we would respond with the same faith and love modeled by our Savior.
Do you truly want to know Christ? To identify with Him in every area of life? To be conformed into His image? To be transformed by His glory? If so, you will find yourself treading the very path that He blazed. People—even people you hold dear—will let you down in one way or another. But if you learn, during such pain-filled moments, to soften your heart and forgive, the resurrection power of Christ will redeem every hurt and fill your future with brightness!