One of the saddest days of our lives must be when we first discover that those we love and respect have feet of clay. Perhaps their hidden personal burdens of sin are exposed but sometimes the betrayal of trust lies in the good intentions of others that do not match our own sense of what is appropriate or desirable. It is a tough lesson to learn and an even tougher lesson to apply.
You see, the challenge for us is not really the recognition of flawed humanity but in how we respond to the discovery.
It seems fairly certain that Judas Iscariot followed Jesus expecting him to be a martial messiah throwing off the yoke of foreign rule and re-establishing the Kingdom of David. That was not the only flaw hidden in Judas. It appears he might have been a thief as well. But the key chink in Judas’ armor was his strong desire to see Jesus restore the glory of Solomon’s realm void of Roman authority.
Knowing the full mind of Judas is impossible. Many view him as a venal betrayer and not without cause. Others see Judas as the Devil’s catspaw or even a false disciple. But I wonder if Judas betrayed Jesus to either reveal He was not the messiah or to force his Master to defend Himself and thus demonstrate his true authority and might. It really matters little. What seems important is that Judas betrayed Jesus for not being the man Judas expected.
Yet is that so very different from Peter? No, Peter did not turn Christ over to the High Priests and Scribes but if he truly understood the ministry of Jesus and the nature of His messiahship, then why did Peter three times deny his Master and closest friend? Why did Peter fear for his own life other than because Jesus was crucified and buried so how could he be the Messiah?
And that leads me to the second point I wish to make. It is one thing to recognize the flaws wrought by our sinful nature in others. But undoubtedly, the hardest part is recognizing our own flawed nature. It is hard because we must then choose to live beyond our own wants and desires or we choose to abandon ourselves to our flawed excesses. We have to make a choice and as easy as the choice sounds, it takes a lifetime of hard work if we resist our sinful nature.
We can’t do it. We cannot prevail over the sins of our life. Not on our own. But through Christ we can, if we submit ourselves to him. But we cannot doubt Jesus just because His way is one we might rather not choose. We cannot hold back out of fear that Jesus will prove unworthy of our trust. He became incarnate and died on the cross to redeem us if we but accept the gift of grace He offers. How mush more can Jesus do to earn our trust?
We, of course, are not Jesus. In this life, we will fall short of righteousness but in Christ we need not stay on our knees groveling in the choking dust of sin. In Christ there is hope for recovering from betrayal…those of others and the ones we will most surely betray by design or accident. Those people with clay feet who let us down? Their feet are not worse and no better than our own. Don’t waste one single precious moment of your life dwelling on the failures or others. Neither must we obsess over our own failures.
Instead, look to the one who never fails and loves us even in our fallen and wretched state. Forgive those who have betrayed you and accept forgiveness for you own failures. Don’t let our own expectations cloud our judgment much less our grace. God loves us in spite of our failures. Then how can we who love Him do any less?