What would you do if you knew people you had brought into close confidence, your closest friends, family, were going to betray you? How would you respond? What would you do if the friends you had abandoned you for no apparent reason? Or left you with no explanation? Or began gossiping about you on why they thought certain things were happening in your life? What would you do if you knew about it in advance? Would you still be their friend before the betrayal or abandonment or gossip? Would you forgive?
Our example is always Jesus. His friends betrayed Him, they abandoned Him, He was gossiped about, lied about, beaten, and so much worse, and Jesus knew in advance that these things would happen. Jesus knew that it was Judas who would betray Him into the hands of those who would later crucify Him. Mark 14:10 “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.”
Jesus knew in advance that Peter would deny Him, and He even told Peter so. Luke 22:61 “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times."
Jesus knew that His friends would abandon Him during the most painful time of His life. John 16:32 "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
Jesus knew in advance that He would die a most painful death on the cross for all of mankind. He knew that it was His Father’s will that He die on the cross. Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
Yet even as He is dying on the cross He cries out to His Father in Luke 23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." How is that for forgiveness? He is being tortured, yet He is not thinking of Himself He is thinking of those who are torturing Him and crying out to His Father for THEIR forgiveness.
Could we do the same? Matt 16:24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." What does taking up our cross and following Jesus mean? Does it mean we will endure some of the same things that Jesus endured (gossipped about, abandonment, betrayal, lied about)? If you knew this was going to happen, would you be able to say "God, not my will, but Your will?" Look at what happened to the disciples. Peter was crucified. Paul was stoned, beaten, thrown in prison, shipwrecked, and eventually beheaded. John the Bapitst was beheaded. Do you think these men would say they had the full life that Jesus promised in John 10:10? I think they would say yes.