Coping with other’s unexpected behaviour – Part 1

Predictability in healthy relationships enrich dependability and security. When unexpected behaviour by those we depend upon creates fear, doubts, and uncertainty, it can be traumatic.

I suggest the most unpredictable and extreme behaviour witnessed in Scripture was by Judas Iscariot. Imagine the shocked thoughts that must have gone through the other eleven disciples’ minds. “Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present” (Luke 22:4-6 NIV). How could you do this Judas? Well, verse 3 tells us that Satan had entered Judas, which changed everything.

Judas was nothing more than a religious man open to internal satanic influence despite walking with Jesus for 3 years. Yet, it was Jesus who had chosen Judas to be one His disciples (Mark 3:16-19). Had Jesus got it wrong? Was this an unexpected interruption to Jesus’ plans? Events like this cause us to struggle with the complex integration of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.

However, Jesus, knowing what Judas was planning, permitted him to participate in the Passover and then exposed Judas when He said “the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:21-22). God had determined these events, yet Judas was also a willing participant. No wonder the disciples “began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this” (Luke 22:23). But Judas knew.

Later, Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter responded by cutting off the right ear from Malchus the servant with his sword (John 18:10). But there was no outburst against Judas. Mark tells us that everyone “left him [Jesus] and fled” (Mark 14:50). So much for the support of close friends. Matthew tells us that during the fake trial of Jesus the next morning, Judas “went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). The entire scene was in human chaos.

Through these staggering events, we get to observe how Jesus and the disciples responded to Judas. There was no witch hunt, so to speak. Judas did not become the source of bitterness, or the target of personal revenge. In fact, as we read the New Testament, we don’t hear of the disciples carrying a grudge, slandering Judas’ name, or voicing their animosity against him.

Some observations may help prepare us for those times when others inflict unexpected pain upon us. First, you have no pain which has taken the Lord by surprize. Just as He knew what Judas was about to do, so also the Lord sees your circumstances coming. The Lord knows all the confusing and conflicting details and feelings with perfect clarity. The Lord knows us, our activities, our thoughts, and even our sleep patterns (Psalms 139:1-3). He knows whenever a sparrow falls and has even numbered the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:29-30). Nothing in your life escapes His attention.

Knowing this gives us the initial confidence needed to respond as Jesus did to His suffering. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23 NIV). As he suffered, He entrusted through surrender to His Father who knew best. As we begin this short series, may we begin with trusting surrender in our heavenly Father.

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