Well, actually a lot can go wrong. Every day at work or even at home, unexpected mistakes, accidents, and slip-ups happen. Things that we don’t plan for occur and things that should have gone right don’t. People with resilience know how to adjust. People without resilience get angry at the mistakes rather than look for solutions, and parents who think their children need only to be happy produce offspring without the ability to adjust to such adversities. Somewhere along the line, we lost the notion that hardship rather than convenience was a more realistic experience of life.
Consider what Jesus faced in the Gospel of John, chapter 18: betrayal by a close associate, desertion by closest friends, and miscarriage of justice. By the time he faced the show trial that could find no legal precedent for condemning him, his friends had fled; he was left alone. It seemed as if everything that could go wrong, did.
I’ve known a number of people who have told me their story about a business partner who absconded with money only to leave them with bills that still needed paying. Betrayal takes time to heal. A spouse who committed adultery feels the same betrayal, and such a betrayal may be even harder to heal. Jesus’ betrayal occurred when one of the twelve Apostles, Judas, sold him for thirty pieces of silver. Though Jesus knew Judas would do such a thing, and Judas identified Jesus to those sent to arrest him by kissing him, Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48). The irony of betraying someone with a sign of affection perhaps adds to the sense of betrayal.
Deserted by Close Friends
More than ever today, one’s close friends may distance themselves if we don’t adhere to a majority view even if and perhaps especially when such a view violates morality. Whistle blowers know this to be true. Once Jesus was led away to the Sanhedrin for a hearing by the religious authorities, his disciples deserted him. One (John) stood in on the proceedings but kept silent, and one (Peter) denied that he knew Jesus. Once again, although Jesus expected this to happen, his sense of loneliness no doubt was intensified.
In his life, we witness human beings at their worst. Many refuse to stand with the truth against an angry mob. Many refuse to put their lives and jobs at risk to stand against great wrongs. An older film starring Gary Cooper, “High Noon,” illustrates the same cowardice by many people except for one man. A band of outlaws threatened to take over a town, but as much as he tried, Gary Cooper could persuade none of the townspeople to stand with him against them. Although he prevails, too many people cowered in fear rather than uniting against a common foe.
Miscarriage of Justice
The courts condemn Jesus to death though even the Roman court could find no reason for such a verdict. Communist Russia and other atheist regimes are famous for their show trials which trotted out false evidence to condemn the innocent. The manipulations and machinations of Jesus trial exhibit many of the same injustices: no solid evidence of a crime, manipulation by powerful people to get rid of Jesus, and a political system determined only to preserve itself rather than see justice done.
Be Strong, Evil Has Lost
I don’t wish any of these things to happen to anyone, but reality has a way of coming back to haunt us when we cannot adjust to and confront an evil, mistake-filled world. Jesus experienced some of the most awful of those evils: betrayal, desertion, injustice. He didn’t condone them, of course, but rather the evil perpetrated by humanity was exposed for the evil that it is.
We can learn from his ability to withstand those things and realize that he conquered evil by his unfair death on the cross. Jesus’ experience of these evils redeemed us but not to keep us from experiencing the same things. Rather, it was to strengthen our resolve to see them through. As Winston Churchill once said, “When you are going through hell, keep going.”
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, Words Done Right LLC, and The Lazarus Chronicles
Listen to a conversation on John 18 here.