Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
For Sunday, May 20, 2012
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Often it is the betrayal of those closest to us that hurts the most. Imagine how the original twelve disciples must have felt when one of their own, Judas, turned out to be a traitor to their cause. This wasn’t just any cause: this was Jesus, supposed Savior of the World. “Judas, how could you do it?!”
In these verses the Apostle Peter offers some helpful guidance for dealing with betrayal. First, says Peter, recognize that betrayal will happen. Peter quotes Psalm 69:25 which speaks of a place being deserted. The discerning reader may ask, “But how does Peter get from a place being deserted to Judas deserting Jesus?” Peter is not suggesting that Psalm 69:25 predicted Judas’ betrayal. What he is suggesting is that Psalm 69 in its entirety speaks to how to find God when one is in over one’s head. The Psalm teaches that whilst we may find ourselves in such a predicament God is still there, still sovereign, and will show the way forward. Betrayal will happen but God is still present.
Second, says Peter, remember that God’s purpose is bigger than betrayal. Peter now quotes Psalm 109:8. Just as with the quotation above Peter is not thinking of this verse in isolation. He is thinking of the Psalm as a whole. David Gooding notes in his commentary on Hebrews (one of my favorites on Hebrews and one of my favorite commentaries period) that quotations from the Psalms often function like prophetic icebergs. One verse is visible above the surface, but there is a lot more going on in the depths beneath. Psalm 109 speaks of wicked and deceitful men and what to do about them. What should be done? “Let another take his place of leadership.” Men may betray God’s purpose, but God’s purpose is bigger than betrayal.
The betrayal of Judas was a volcanic explosion yet it is just such upheavals that produce the richest of soil in which future growth can flourish. Matthias took Judas’ place. He flourished as the gospel flourished in the rich soil created by a terrible betrayal.
Stinging from a betrayal? Remember, God is still here, and his purpose is bigger than whatever betrayal has befallen you.
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