Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Etu' Brute' - Betrayed"

Today is the Ides of March.  The historical significance of this date centers around betrayal.  In this case, betrayal by a trusted colleague and friend.  On this date in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Senate.  One of the ringleaders was his friend Marcus Brutus.  And thanks to Shakespeare we have the famous line, “Etu’ Brute’?”  Caesar’s supposed dying words:  “And you, Brutus?”  Whether Caesar actually uttered these words, we cannot be sure, but it’s safe to say he felt betrayed.

Betrayal is devastating.  Perhaps because it occurs at the hand of someone we trust implicitly.  Betrayers know us intimately and we have believed we were loved and safe in their care.  One of my favorite movies is Braveheart.  And my favorite scene is when William Wallace discovers it's Robert the Bruce who has betrayed him.  No words are spoken in the scene, but the look on Mel Gibson’s face says it all.  Words would only have diminished the utter devastation he portrays with just that look.  I know exactly how he feels. 

The awfulness of being betrayed isn’t so much because we are duped, but because we lose a part of ourselves in the process.  Once betrayed, we generally can never approach anyone else with the same amount of trust we had before the betrayal.  And, we’re forced to deal with unpleasant emotions like grief, anger, and loss as well as a new struggle – the struggle to forgive.  If you’re like me, the struggle is fierce.  Satan, the ultimate betrayer of mankind, knows I struggle with forgiveness, and he's always waiting in the wings to bring to life the hurt and shock I’ve felt making it all seem new and raw.

The good news is I don’t have to give in to him.  I have the best role model to follow in the art of forgiveness: Jesus.  Jesus, who was betrayed by all mankind.  He knew what it was like to be betrayed by those closest to him.  Judas turned Him over to the Roman guards with a kiss no less.  Peter denied even knowing Him.  And, at His death, only one disciple is reported to have been there.  Finally, lest we forget, we have betrayed Him too.  Each time we do something we shouldn’t; each time we laugh at an off-color joke; each time we turn our backs on those less fortunate; each time we choose what we want to do over what He's telling us to do.  Despite all of this, Jesus in His dying moment said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Imagine, struggling to breathe your last, labored breath and you're forgiving those who have killed you.  Now, that’s a role model.  I’m not there yet.  I know I must forgive because God says I must.  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)  And God requires more.  I must forget too because God forgets.  “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)  Forgetting is the hardest part for me.  I have to trust enough in God to handle it so I can avoid the destructiveness of bitterness and anger.  If I let bitterness and anger consume me, the only one who wins is the betrayer.  So, I struggle with forgiving and forgetting, but as long as I keep trying, God can be in control.  “Do not say, I’ll pay you back for this wrong.  Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.” (Provers 20:22)

And what of Brutus?  In 42.B.C., Brutus committed suicide after his legions were defeated by Marc Antony.  Rather than be captured and most likely brutally tortured before being put to death, he ended it all.  I’m guessing those last two years were filled with constant worry and fear.  What a way to spend your last days.  Deliverance or Condemnation?  I think I like deliverance better.

3 comments:

  1. I am with you! Loving your blog!

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  2. Thanks Rochelle. I appreciate your encouragement. So many of my FB friends have been so kind. It's been very uplifting.

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