Trust is the glue that holds life together. Without it, there is no marriage, no family, no friendship, no government, and no society. Destroy it entirely, and humanity would self destruct. Not one single person would survive.
Nothing is more painful, more destabilizing and more devastating than the loss of trust, especially in someone you have been close to and loved. At the lowest point in his life, at his arrest and subsequent trials, this is what happened to Jesus. Every single person he trusted, those most close to him, betrayed and abandoned him. How did the rebel Jesus respond? What can we learn from his story?
For the price of thirty pieces of silver, Judas, one of his twelve disciples, agreed to identify Jesus for the temple police and Roman soldiers so that they would not arrest the wrong person. As Judas betrayed him with a greeting kiss on the cheek, Jesus responded kindly by saying, “Friend, what do you come for?” One of the disciples drew a sword and tried to split in two the head of one of the temple officials, cutting off only an ear. Jesus immediately instructed him that no resistance would be allowed and restored the man’s ear to his head.
Following Jesus arrest, all his disciples, save one, fled and went into hiding. Peter, however, trailed behind Jesus and the police at a safe distance as he was taken before the Sanhedrin, the religious grand jury, to establish charges against him before referring him to Pilate, the Roman governor, whom they hoped would sentence him to death. As Peter approached so that he might hear the kangaroo court trial proceedings, he was recognized as being one of the disciples. Cursing and swearing he denied three different times even knowing Jesus, and as Jesus was dragged off to Pilate, Peter fled to join the other cowards in hiding.
Following his trial, crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appeared several times to his disciples. They must have greatly feared this first encounter. But was such fear justified? “While the disciples were still talking, Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Those were his first words to his best friends who had recently forsaken him. Later he spoke at some length with Peter who had not only fled like the others, but had intentionally denied ever knowing Jesus. Listen to his words to Peter. “Simon Peter, do you truly love me?” This painful question was repeated twice more, until Peter devastated by such kindness responded, “Lord you know all things, you know that I love you.”
It is said that love conquers all and that it is the most powerful force in the world. Forgiveness, as its companion virtue, is the first step toward healing and restoration for both the violator and the violated.
To be continued…